As best as I can tell, Oprah seems to have made Book Clubs as popular as they are today. However, I can remember my mom and her friends buying books and passing them around and talking about them afterwards, well before Oprah was famous.
With EN working second shift, I almost never have the opportunity to join a book club. My friend Emily used to let me play along with hers. She’d read the assigned book, then pass it on to me. I wouldn't go to their meetings or anything, but Emily and I would discuss the books between the two of us. It didn't take long before I started calling her club the “Disturbed Chicks Book Club.” Every book I read from their selections left me feeling dreadful afterwards.
First, there was Body Surfing by Anita Shreve. It’s been so long now that I can’t remember why I disliked this book, but I can remember thinking “that’s time spent that I’ll never get back” when I finished it. Then we read Back Roads by Tawni O’Dell. I've since read other books by Tawni and I love the funny characters in them. Back Roads was disturbing and horrible and I still feel icky when I remember the plot of that book. The last book I read from their selections was We Need to Talk about Kevin. Though I loved this book, I bitched to Emily the whole time I was reading. I HATED the format: letters from a wife to a husband. What the fuck, I thought, just tell the story. Well, it all makes perfect devastating sense in the end. So while I enjoyed the book, once again I found the story to be sad and disturbing.
I love to read and I read A LOT. Friends have introduced me to so many wonderful authors I would never have discovered on my own. I never would have picked up The Hunger Games on my own, but my friend Sarah encouraged me to read them and I especially loved the first book. Water for Elephants and The Help were other suggestions I might not have read without recommendations, even though they were very popular. I still cannot bring myself to read about vampires. That’s a level of make believe that I can’t bring myself to care about.
I am a frequent flyer at my town’s library. I know most of the librarians and I’m there often enough to get recommendations from them. I’m also enough of a skank that I frequently owe late fees. The way I look at it, it’s a community service to pay these fines. Every dime I pay goes towards more new books, right? Sadly though, our library is fairly small and I often have to have books ordered in from other libraries, so I have to wait for something I really want. That’s ok though, I've recently discovered new series’ that keep me very busy.
A few months ago, I was at the library and I saw a notice for a Cookbook Club. As a big girl that loves to cook, I was intrigued. I found the gal running the club and begged her to tell me more. She explained that the members of the club would each get a copy of the selected cookbook to play with for a month. On the day of the meeting, the members would attend and bring a dish they prepared from one of the recipes in the book. AND the meetings would be held on Saturdays!
I immediately texted Skinny Bitch and begged and pleaded that she do this with me. It took some cajoling and brown nosing, but she finally agreed and I signed us up. Since then, we've confessed to each other that we each actually read cookbooks for fun. Is there such a thing as a “foodie geek?”
Our first selection was available at the end of December. It is Get Cooking by Mollie Katzen. I like that we are starting out with a “cookbook for beginners.” The introduction talks about kitchen tools and preparation of various foods. The recipes cover everything from soups to desserts, but the best part is that the recipes call for regular food that even I have in my kitchen after a long sabbatical from the grocery store.
I almost immediately decided to make a Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup. It sounds interesting and delicious and like something I wouldn't normally make. Plus I asked Santa to bring me an immersion blender for Christmas, so this soup would break it in nicely. Then I started looking more at other recipes and now can’t decide what to bring. Since I convinced Skinny Bitch to join this club with me, I almost feel like I should make the Caramelized Balsamic Red Onion Soup, which I would never eat, but she would love.
And so I read and I play… The other night I made Chinese-style Peanut Noodles for dinner, which was very tasty. It’s been pretty fantastic to bring a new variety of food to the table and to be so excited when my girls are willing to try new things.
I’m not going to lie, I could waste hours upon hours perusing the internet for new recipes, but there’s something amazing about paging through a cookbook and being excited about bringing new stuff to the table. Maybe someday we’ll get out of the rut of having tuna casserole, sloppy joes and macaroni and cheese on a regular basis!
First Cookbook Club meeting is on January 26. I hope I can finally decide on a recipe to share before then. Otherwise, I’ll be the overachiever that shows up with 15 different dishes!