By Guest Blogger Beth Schwartz
I have recently taken up a new hobby. Well, not exactly new, I am just pursuing it in a different way. Always an extremely avid reader, I have joined, or more like was recruited into, a book club. My mother loves to tell the story that I was so consumed with reading as a child that she would ask me to set the table for dinner and I would try to do it while devouring every word of a Nancy Drew mystery. She would watch in distress wondering, “How did I manage to raise such a little nerd?”
As for my newest bibliophilic pursuit, I belong to a very young book club having only just completed our third book. We started out with extremely high aspirations and read the textbook-like Twelve Caesars – about what else but the twelve Caesars – which was not a favorite of the book clubbers and was universally panned if even nary a cover was ever opened. Next there was the self indulgent opus The Discovery of Heaven by Harry Mulisch that is at 730 pages as thick as a phonebook. It was an improvement over our first book, and offered much insight into the Dutch culture, but still was not dearly loved.
This month we finally went for a more mainstream choice that was more manageable in size as well as an Oprah pick – Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was a pretty good read but it wasn’t exactly a page turner. But as I have found in my limited book club experience, that’s really not the point. The idea is that because someone different picks the book each month, we are introduced to reading material and, in turn, ideas we would have never taken the time to pursue on our own.
But even better than opening up our minds to new cultures, reading genres and stories we might have ordinarily dismissed, is the camaraderie created by a group of women who come together each month. Gathering with my fellow book clubbers and discussing the month’s reading material to glean their opinions, comments and interpretations has been a very gratifying experience.
Although at first resistant to joining the book club as I love the solitary aspect of reading, I have found it still allows me to find my escape while at the same time delve into and explore the book at another level. It has even led me to the conclusion that I probably would have enjoyed many a book a lot more had I incorporated group discussions.
But that’s not where the learning ends for this ambitious group of book lovers. We have been called high maintenance because we also insist on broadening our culinary horizons. Based on our chosen book, we also bring a dish along that relates to it. For instance, this month because Eat, Pray, Love takes place in Italy, India and Indonesia, a dish from any of these cultures could have been in the offing. I made an Indian dish that I would have never even considered making before, if not for this activity.
As the dog days of summer ensue, spend some time with yourself. Broaden your world and take up a new hobby or put a twist on one you already enjoy.
Beth Schwartz is the editor of Luxury Las Vegas magazine, also part of the Stephens Media family. She blogs at www.luxurylv.com/truly-scrumptious.