What we're about

Books! Food! Friends! What’s not to love?

About Us

We read a variety of worthwhile literature from around the world and across time. Different genres, different styles, there’s something for everyone. It’s all too easy to zone out in front of the TV or get stuck in a pile of endless “beach reads,” so we use book club to explore the hidden and not-so-hidden literary gems. Things that make you think, really...

NOTE: May 15, 2019 - we are tidying up the membership list to drop inactive members. If you were dropped and wish to be reinstated, please simply "Join" again and in your responses let us know that you do want to participate! Our apologies to anyone erroneously dropped.


We currently meet at Amuse at the VMFA. Payment options include a check, cash (please bring small bills) or the square cash app. Amuse only does one check so we have to all put it on my card.

When do we meet?

Currently, our book club meetings are scheduled monthly, for Sunday brunch around noon.

What might we read?

Usually fiction, sometimes classics, sometimes books that you may never have heard of, and sometimes modern day popular literature. Check out our calendar to see past reads and upcoming events. What we won't read - Jodi Piccoult, Twilight, Danielle Steele, etc...

Please be sure to check out our policies here (http://www.meetup.com/Smarty-Pants-Book-Club/about/) .

Upcoming events (4)

VMFA Don Quixote Docent Lead Tour

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

IF YOU HAVE NOT RSVPd AND WANT TO JOIN THE TOUR, PLEASE SEND ME A MESSAGE AND WE WILL TRY TO MAKE Arrangements.... VMFA has arranged a private docent-led tour for us in connection with our reading of Don Quixote. More details about the docent and the works will follow. The tour will be at 10:00 on October 27, and we will have our club discussion meeting immediately following. You can attend one or both events; it is totally your choice. The cost will be $10 per person for the tour, and we have to pay in advance, by October 17. There is some scholarship funding available if the cost will be a hardship for someone. Send me a message if you need the assistance. I will send a reminder in early October to arrange collecting the fee by Venmo, PayPal, or mailing me a check. You can also pay me in advance at the August or September meeting.

"Don Quixote" by Miguel de Cervantes

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Our October book is a long one: "The Ingenious Gentleman Sir Quixote of La Mancha", or just "Don Quixote" (from Wikipedia) Published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615, Don Quixote is the most influential work of literature from the Spanish Golden Age and the entire Spanish literary canon. As a founding work of modern Western literature, it regularly appears high on lists of the greatest works of fiction ever published. It is known for its central ethic that individuals can be right while society is quite wrong. The story follows the adventures of a noble (hidalgo) named Alonso Quixano who reads so many chivalric romances that he loses his sanity and decides to become a knight-errant (caballero andante), reviving chivalry and serving his country, under the name Don Quixote de la Mancha. He recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his squire, who often employs a unique, earthy wit in dealing with Don Quixote's rhetorical orations on antiquated knighthood. Don Quixote, in the first part of the book, does not see the world for what it is and prefers to imagine that he is living out a knightly story. ------------------------------------ There are many English translations of this book, and many opinions about the merits of various translations. If you don't like the first translation you start, maybe try a different one (prose vs. poetic), and if you have the option to read in a language other than English... Please do! There are even several Spanish versions, to cater to the modern reader of the original. I think we will have a lively discussion and the linguistic analysts among us will enjoy doing lots of research. https://franklycurious.com/wp/don-quixote-english/ http://miscellanynews.org/2018/05/02/arts/translations-of-don-quixote-prove-accessible-unique/ https://www.theguardian.com/books/2015/aug/19/modern-version-of-don-quixote-declared-against-literature English Translations: Thomas Shelton (1612 & 1620) John Phillips (1687) Captain John Stevens (1700) (revision of Thomas Shelton) Pierre Antoine Motteux (1700) *Ned Ward (1700) – (The) Life & Notable Adventures of Don Quixote merrily translated into Hudibrastic Verse John Ozell (1719) (revision of Pierre Antoine Motteux) Charles Jervas (1742) Tobias Smollett (1755) (revision of Charles Jervas) George Kelly (1769) (considered as another revision of Pierre Antoine Motteux) Charles Henry Wilmot (1774) Mary Smirke with engravings by Robert Smirke (1818) Alexander James Duffield (1881) John Ormsby (1885) (widely available, not always in its entirety on the Internet.) Henry Edward Watts (1888) Robinson Smith (1910) Samuel Putnam (1949) J. M. Cohen (1950) Walter Starkie (1964) Joseph Ramon Jones and Kenneth Douglas (1981) (revision of John Ormsby) Burton Raffel (1996) John Rutherford (2000) Edith Grossman (2003), and updated edition (2015) Tom Lathrop (2005) James H. Montgomery (2006) Gerald J. Davis (2011)

"The Day The Sun Died" by Jan Lianke

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Yan Lianke is a Chinese writer of novels and short stories based in Beijing. (excerpted from The Paris Review) Centered on a fourteen-year-old boy named Li Niannian, whose parents run a shop that sells items for funeral rituals and whose uncle runs a crematorium, the story in The Day The Sun Died describes a night during which most of the residents of the boy’s village suddenly start sleepwalking—or, to translate the Chinese term for somnambulism more literally, “dreamwalking.” The community degenerates into chaos, as many villagers act out the urges that they had kept suppressed during their normal waking state. Like Ulysses, which famously unfolds over the course of a single day (June 16, 1904), the main narrative of The Day the Sun Died takes place over the course of a single night, beginning at five P.M. on the evening of the sixth day of the sixth lunar month, and concluding early the following morning. The novel is divided into a series of “books,” each of which opens with a header that notes a temporal interval using the traditional Chinese geng-dian system, and each book is then divided into sections that similarly open with a header that notes the corresponding temporal interval using the Western twenty-four-hour system. The Day the Sun Died also features a character named Yan Lianke, who is a well-known author of books whose titles are permutations of novels by the real Yan Lianke. Even as Yan Lianke’s dark vision has brought him considerable international recognition, it has also increasingly embroiled him with China’s censorship regime. In 2016 the Chinese edition of The Day the Sun Died won Hong Kong’s prestigious Dream of the Red Chamber Award, despite the fact that the novel was never published in Mainland China. Also: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/10/15/yan-liankes-forbidden-satires-of-china

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

From Wikipedia: Convenience Store Woman (コンビニ人間 Konbini Ningen) is a Japanese novel written by Sayaka Murata. It captures the atmosphere of the familiar convenience store that is so much part of life in Japan. Murata worked at the convenience store three times a week, basing her novel on her experiences. Originally published in 2016 by Bungeishunjū, an English-language translation by Ginny Tapley Takemori was released by Grove Press (US) and Portobello Books (UK) in 2018. Keiko Furukura was always considered to be a strange child, and her parents worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they should say, and she copies her coworkers' style of dress and speech patterns so that she can play the part of a normal person. However, eighteen years later, at age 36, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has only few friends. She feels comfortable in her life, but is aware that she is not living up to society's expectations and causing her family to worry about her. When a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work in the store, he upsets Keiko's contented stasis.

Past events (118)

"The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" by Anne Brontë

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

Photos (42)