Discussions of scenes shed light on members

Book club

November 22, 2001

An interview with Joanne Zaslow, co-founder of the book club, Ladies Eat and Read Society.

How did you get started? The name is kind of tongue-in-cheek. We all kind of know each other from the Columbia area ... and we had been talking about getting a book club started for months, and one day we said, "OK, we're going to set up a meeting," and now we're on our fourth year. In addition to our book discussions, we're trying to encourage literacy, and so recently we've been contributing funds to buy books in elementary schools.

What book is your club reading this month? Oh, this is a weird one. We're reading, if you can believe it, Stephen King. Hearts in Atlantis. I don't think it's one of his usual types. It's sort of Vietnam era. ... It's really unusual because we tend to read books from Oprah's list or Modern Library or the Radcliffe [University] list. It's not always the New York Times [best seller] book list. As a result, we've read a number of books that were movies, before they became movies: The Horse Whisperer, Practical Magic, Chocolat, The Cider House Rules.

What are your discussions like? We've got a really interesting mix of people. We're all women, but we've got nurses and editor types, and we've got a chef, so we've got different insights. For example, there's a nurse that will tell us what's realistic in the medical scene when a book relates to something medical. [We read] Memoirs of a Geisha, and we have people who have lived in the Orient, so they shared insight about that. You know, you read these books and discuss them, and then you take off and you find out things about people that you never would have known.

Where does your group meet? Our November meeting was in an art gallery because we read Girl in Hyacinth Blue. That book is all about tracing a painting through its various owners through time, so we said, "Let's go to a gallery." Mostly we meet in each other's homes, but we have met at the Mad City coffee shop and a place in Catonsville, a little old-fashioned antique place that you had to call in advance to get seating for tea. We generally try to get a place that relates to the book [when we're not meeting in one of our homes] just to get a little atmosphere.

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