Nonfiction or fiction pleasing

Book club

April 25, 2002

An interview with Carol Stretmater, member of the Highland Book Club.

What book are members reading this month? They're reading The Best American Short Stories 2001 edited by Barbara Kingsolver.

How did you come to choose that? A different member picks a book each month. The person who has the meeting tells you what to read the next month, and then they lead the discussion that month.

Does your group read any nonfiction? Ah yes, we just read Seabiscuit. ... They all liked it. It's well written, and it's written so that it's really easy to read. It's nonfiction, but it's written like it's fiction. And it was interesting to read about a different subject that you're not familiar with, and also it talks about the horse races in Maryland: Pimlico and Laurel.

What other books have members especially liked? We read Caravans in November, which was particularly topical because it was about Afghanistan. ... It's about Afghanistan in the 1940s right after the war. It's before the Russians came in and took over Afghanistan. It's fiction. It was written by [James A.] Michener. It's a story of the rebuilding of Afghanistan after the war ... and by reading this it gives you a little bit of a geography lesson. ... Now I know where all those places are that they talked about in the newspaper.

Has the group had any big surprises, books that you all thought you would like but didn't, or vice versa? I think some people thought Seabiscuit wouldn't be good and, once they got into it, enjoyed it very much. We even read one of the Harry Potter books, and it went over well. I think that we read that because so many people [in the club] have grandchildren, it was interesting to see what the kids were reading.

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