F. Scott Fitzgerald's `Tender is the Night' is the choice

Book club

March 18, 2004

An interview with Jacqueline Easley, founder of the Soho Bookworms of Howard County.

Why did you start the book club? I've always been an avid reader since I was little, but I fell out of the act of reading after I got out of college and started working. About four years ago, I read the book Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri. It is a collection of short stories about the Indian-American immigrant experience. The book was so beautifully crafted. The characters were compelling. I was reminded how satisfying an experience it is to read a good book.

How did you come up with the name Soho Bookworms? It's short for Southern Howard, although not all the members are from the southern part of the county anymore. We've expanded since we started in November 2002. We always have dinner together, so there's this feasting and camaraderie. Since I've become a mother, it's become more important to carve out some time for myself. I was an English literature major in college, so it's fun to get back into intellectual discussion. There's the social aspect, too. Most of the women in the group are also mothers.

Did your members talk about their expectations for the club? Yes. Some wanted a good laugh, some wanted to be inspired and others wanted to escape. Some wanted to learn about another culture or were interested in character development.

What are you reading now? Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

What have been some of the more unusual books your group has read? Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie was one. Another was How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez.

What is Alvarez's book about? It's about a group of sisters from the Dominican Republic and how they struggle to reconcile their heritage with their life in the United States. Each chapter was written in the perspective of a different sister or about one experience from several of the sisters' points of view. Our group tends to lean toward fiction and women writers with strong female protagonists.

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