Monday, January 14, 2013

Book Club: January

Since moving to Birmingham in June, I have been swept up with new friends, a new job, and continuing my Master’s. All of these things have kept me busy, but also left me missing something. While I adore the new girls I met and the AMAZING times we’ve had, I had nothing that was solely for myself. Being the introvert that I am, meeting people can be overwhelming but also completely rewarding. With things in my life finally reaching a decent homeostasis (thank heavens) I knew I wanted to do something for myself that would be intellectually rewarding as well as push my boundaries a bit.

Enter: Book Club.

Just before I left Birmingham to go home for Christmas, I decided to find a book club. The first one I looked at was the Hoover Public Library. I knew that it would not be far from home. But with my odd schedule (working security can really bite sometimes) I would need to find one to fit my weird schedule. The first one I looked at was the first Thursday of every month, and that seemed good except I would have to go to the meeting the day after driving 12 hours back to B’ham. I was not having that. But there was also a second Thursday of every month, so I decided to investigate that further. When I noticed that the Great Gatsby was on the reading list, I was sold.

This past Thursday was the very first meeting. I had ordered the book on Amazon and couldn’t wait for it to arrive. And then once I did, I found myself procrastinating doing other things (no shock there). But being the avid and quick reader that I am, I was able to get it read on one of my days off and finish it the evening before book club.

The novel is the first published by Michel (pronounced Michelle) Stone. She had previously had several short stories published and never considered writing a novel until attending a writer’s conference. The novel, the Iguana Tree, follows the experience of Hector and Lilia, a couple with an infant, as they come into the United States illegally. The two have very different experiences when they cross separately including the abduction of their young daughter Alejandra.

Stone’s perception of immigration came from a nonpolitical place. The story of Hector and Lilia is instead a tale weaved out of the experiences of real people who made the journey into America for a better life. When asked about her political ideas or solution for the issues, Stone deflects and maintains that she is an author setting out to tell a story, not harbor political undertones.

To me, the book’s main message is that when deciding to follow your dreams, step carefully. There is good and evil everywhere in the world, and if you do not watch your step someone could find a way to take advantage of you.

I’ve decided not to delve further into book details, instead leaving it up to you to decided to read the book and see Hector and Lilia’s fate for themselves. What I can do is go on more about book club and the lovely Michel Stone.

So I get to book club, not really knowing what to expect. In the room is around 20 women. Of varying ages, mainly older. Not many young people are available on a Thursday morning from 10 am to noon! But we sit down and begin discussing the book, and to my joy and wonderment, we are actually going to skype the author! We divvy up questions to ask her to further discussion as well as any questions we want to pose ourselves. I was besotted.

So we skyped the lovely Michel and got to hear about her experiences in writing the book and what she plans on doing next (very excited for her next novel). I was able to approach her from the standpoint of a fellow writer and ask how to get my procrastinating butt (common theme in the novel that is my life) moving and how to develop a good writing process for myself. I even found a compatriot next to me who is also a writer and we exchanged information in the hopes of setting a time to write together, making it less likely to procrastinate when you have a comrade with you in the trenches. I left book club with a huge smile on my face, and then called my mom to gush about the wonderful experience. The gushing went on for around 20 minutes! Needless to say, I am very excited about tackling the next book, although it will have to wait while I tackle some of my unread books currently overwhelming my bookcase.

No comments: