Brunch leads to novel discussions

Book club

Howard Live

March 14, 2002

An interview with Mary Margaret Kamerman, founder of First Thursday Book Club.

How long has your group been in existence? Ten years. We started in March of '92. I am a voracious reader, and I had one or two close women friends that I met with once a month for brunch, and we'd always end up talking about books, so we decided to start a book club. ... We have nine members now.

Is that a comfortable size? Yes, I feel if it were any bigger, everybody would not get a chance to share and discuss.

What book are members reading this month? We're doing Waiting by Ha Jin. In a way, it's a little bit of an exception because we don't often do male authors. We do primarily female authors, but we have done some males.

Has there been a real favorite, over the last decade? We certainly loved Rose's Garden, which is by Carrie Brown. And Carrie lived in Columbia. ... Well, we loved the characters. We loved the setting. It was a book about a man whose wife had died. You hear about how he deals with his grief and part of it is taking care of her garden, Rose's garden. ... It's a healing book. It's about people dealing with grief and loss. It's a book about love. ... I think we all felt pretty hopeful afterward, which many of our books don't do.

Is there a book none of the members liked? Yes, we've had some of those. Not too many because what we say in our book club is that one of the members has to have read the book and loved it, has to be willing to lead the discussion on it. One book we didn't care for was The Dead of the House by Hannah Green. There was nothing engaging in it. You couldn't get involved in the characters. There was nothing in the plot. ... We read that about four or five years ago, and that's when we came up with the rule that you had to have read the book to recommend it. ... And because the discussion leader has to have loved the book, even if the other members didn't enjoy it at first, they will get something out of the discussion.

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