Tyler's `Grownups' the choice

Book club

October 03, 2002

An interview with Alberta Hatmaker, a co-founder of Page Turners book club.

How long has your group been in existence? I think it's been around five years. We were at a neighborhood picnic and got to talking about different books we've read, and we thought, "We just want to get together and talk about the books."

What book are members reading this month? We're reading Anne Tyler's Back When We Were Grownups. We usually pick two or three books at a time, and then we give our selections to the library. We have a helper at the Howard County Library at Glenwood who usually assists us in getting the books. And if they don't [have enough copies], we'll try going to the used-book stores, or someone may know someone who can share a copy. ... And we run [our selection] by the librarian at Glenwood to see if it would be a good book that would generate a good conversation.

What makes a book good for generating conversation? The personality of the people the author chooses to write about and, of course, the situations. We read Katharine Graham's autobiography, and some of the gals had not known that much about her and her life was really quite a story. And it led to discussion of the pros and cons of some of her decisions and how she handled different stresses and problems in her life. And it all makes for a good conversation, a good sharing, I guess.

Is there one book that stands out as a real favorite over the years? One that we've really enjoyed just for the humor in it was Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. And the gals thought Seabiscuit was a real favorite -- the strength of characters in the book and the horse itself. A book club does open new avenues to what you might find that you do enjoy. It's this racehorse that no one ever thought would amount to anything. ... Here comes this horse that somebody bought for practically nothing, and he turned out to be a horse that thousands came to see. ... It was just the character of this horse. He did run with the grace of a trained horse. This horse just had a certain sense of winning, and he gave back to his owners because they genuinely cared about him. ... I can remember my father talking about Seabiscuit. ... Seabiscuit ran here in Baltimore, and there were thousands and thousands of people waiting to see this horse run.

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