Book clubs' choices bound around globe

January 23, 2003

An interview with Joanne Locke, member of Bookward Bound book club.

How long have you been a part of Bookward Bound? I've been in well over a decade. ... The club has been in existence for - I'll bet it's at least 15 years. What's nice about it is we keep getting new people. Some people drop out, but it keeps on going like an Energizer bunny. [We have] roughly a dozen members.

What are the demographics of your group? Mostly 50s and 60s. A couple of bureaucrats, some in the real estate business, one or two teachers, one retail person. Some of the retirees have turned into writers for little local newspapers. One is very active with little theaters. All women. Not that we've ever excluded a man, but [no man's] ever asked to join us.

What book are members reading this month? Waiting by Ha Jin.

How did you choose that book? What we tend to do is every six or seven months we each bring books we want the group to read to the meeting, and the more persuasive or enthusiastic the person is, I guess, the more likely we are to read it. ... We try to do books around the world. We've done them from Italy and China and Japan and Indonesia. So at least once a year we try to do a non-English-speaking author.

Is there a book that has really stood out over the years that members liked? I guess what I would remember more were books that some people loved and some of us hated. ... Sometimes the ones you like a lot are not the ones that have the best discussions. City of God by E. L. Doctorow was complex. You never knew which of the characters was speaking until you really got into it. It was not an easy book to pick up. Some people really enjoyed that, and others thought it made you work too hard.

Is there a book none of the members liked? Almost everybody didn't like Are You Somebody? by Nuala O'Faolain. ... I got about halfway through it. The main character was writing about herself, and she was like "Me, me, me!" and she was not very likable. The person who chose the book, as I recall, thought that made it interesting. She thought it was an interesting character study.

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