Meet Margaret – our optimist.
Margaret can find something nice to say about anyone (and any book) she meets. She’s positive, enthusiastic, talkative like you wouldn’t believe, funny, and one of the most genuinely “glass half full” people you’ll ever know. She brings the positive outlook to the book club – even if she hates a book, she can find a silver lining – and her book choices tend to take our group off in new and interesting directions. Our one and only non-fiction read has been thanks to Margaret, as was a run of spiritual-focused fiction that we had a few years ago.
And in typical Margaret fashion, when I asked her to send me her answers to my five questions and begged her to include a photo, she jumped at my “I’ll even take a photo of your feet” offer!
Here are Margaret’s thoughts on our book club.
Lindsay: What has been your favorite book club book and why?
Margaret: There have been so many wonderful book club books, but if I had to pick just one, I would go with Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes. I still remember the main character’s first name and can approximate her last name. Sometimes I have trouble just remembering book titles, so this is saying a lot.
There are a few reasons why this book is a standout for me. Aminata’s character was brought to life in such a powerful and vivid way, that as a reader, I was able to connect with her so strongly. When I read a book, I need to feel something—for better or worse. I want to be moved. I want my emotions ruffled in some way. This book made me feel many things on a deep level. I especially enjoy books which have story lines in which there is a triumph of the human spirit in transcending the most difficult of challenges that are served up. What I loved most, was being a witness to Aminata’s journey, the choices she made and how they defined her life and purpose.
Lindsay: What’s your favourite book club memory?
Margaret: My favourite book club memory is when a bunch of us visited a Chapters book store, in search of our next book club pick. I enjoyed this because we went “old school” (no electronic gadgets involved). It was just us, connecting with the books “real time”, on a very tactile level. As much as I’d like to think that I wouldn’t judge a book by its cover, I discovered from this experience, that covers do have a bigger impact on me than I realized or would care to admit.
That wasn’t my only discovery, however. During that book store visit, it came up that one of our members had a unique “litmus test” for deciding whether a book was going to be worthwhile to continue reading. I thought it was the most interesting thing ever, that she was able to zero in on a particular page number and had a whole rationale to back it up!
Lindsay: In an ideal world, what would we be reading next?
Margaret: Well, I’m not sure how ideal this would be, but I love the idea of breaking the mold and doing something VERY different and outside of the box. I wonder what it would be like to pick a book that was a well-known childhood favorite that we had either read or had exposure to like Blubber, Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret or a Nancy Drew mystery. I think it would be interesting to have a discussion about the book from a childhood perspective and now as an adult. I’m not sure what my pick would be, but I’m thinking that Charlie and The Chocolate Factory is a strong contender at the moment.
Lindsay: What advice would you give, to someone looking to join a book club?
Margaret: I would suggest that the person do some self-reflection and be very clear on WHY they want to join a book club and what their vision is of how they want it to operate. Not all book clubs are alike and one size does not necessarily fit all. Armed with this information, they can ask the right questions to see if a particular book club will be the right fit for them.
Above all else, they should ensure that whatever book club they join, it is one in which every member is respected, gets to have a voice and can freely express themselves without fear of judgment.
Lindsay: How do you think the book club should celebrate 10 years?
Margaret: I think it would be nice if the festivities included some kind of walk down memory lane, in terms of the books we’ve read or the memories we’ve shared. Not too long ago, we collectively tried to piece together as complete of a list as possible, of all the books we had read. I also think it would be fantastic for all of us to participate in some kind of literary event like Word on the Street, something in connection to Canada Reads or just going to see an author speak.