What we're about

Come join our Sarasota/Bradenton Book Club focusing on the classics.
Do you never feel comfortable unless you have a book going? Do you feel the frustration when there is no one available to discuss what you have just been reading? Or, maybe, you used to enjoy reading but feel you don't have time for it anymore but would like a spark to get you back to reading again? Then this might be the place for you. 
One catch though...as the name suggests, we will be reading the 'classics'! I say that word in quotes because no one can ever agree on what books should be on that list, so, I will not have any definition. We will decide what to read in group participation and I expect lots of lively, respectful debates as to whether a book should be considered a classic or not. For a great short essay on why you should read the 'classics', pleas see this - http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1986/10/09/why-read-the-c...
So, what kind of books should you expect? I hope for a wide mixture of both fiction and non-fiction from 2000 BC to modern times, and not just sticking with the western canon but exploring the world from all continents and cultures. 
What kind of people should you expect to meet? I hope we get a range of members from their 20's to 100's, and while many book clubs tend to either be solely for females or heavily weighted with females, I hope we will also have a strong male contingent. My ideal is that we have a host of varying viewpoints. Above all, I will not only expect but demand respect for everyone in the group and their opinions. 
What should you expect from the meetups? We will be discussing one book during each session that has been chosen well in advance. I hope for full group participation but, having always been a shy person, I will try to make sure that no one ever feels uncomfortable or out of place, i.e. being put on the spot for an opinion. As you come to more meetings and meet people, you will gradually grow more comfortable with sharing your thoughts. 
What this meetup is not. Despite a focus on the classics, we will not be school. No preparing ahead of time with thoughts on what the theme is, or essay like answers to questions on comparing and contrasting, etc. It will be natural to dig a little deep into some books, but only when the conversation leads us there. Also, I do not want a roomful of snobs. Leave your pretensions at the door. No one will ever be judged for never having read certain books before. Many 'classics' were the soap operas of their day! Even Shakespeare was most popular among the rabble, not just for the high and mighty. If you've never read the classics or your only experience was in school, then prepare to be amazed. Challenge yourself to begin and you will soon find that picking up one of these books is no longer a challenge, and you will begin asking yourself why people don't understand when you can't stop gushing about all the characters and ideas you have been reading and talking about. 
What can we expect from you and how to make the most from the group?  Try to come to as many groups as you can.  Don't wait for a book you may be interested in.  I have too many examples of people believing they would not like a book only to fall in love with it.  I am fine with people coming to the meetup even if they have not finished a book as long as you know to expect spoilers.  Negative opinions are just as valid as positive ones, however, if you found yourself not finishing the book because you disliked it, be prepared to have your opinion challenged at the group and possibly be encouraged to finish later when others say that the book gets much better in the second half.

One last note about expectations.  I will become more strict with no-shows.  I make reservations at a restaurant based on the number of RSVP's.  The restaurant will often have to make arrangements for a larger group, so, for a number of people not to show up, it is rude to those who did come and to the restaurant.  I am fine with last minute changes, as I'm guilty of that myself and life does get in the way, but, I will only give a pass for 1 no-show before removing you from the group after the next instance.
What can you expect from me? I'm not a scholar, just someone who loves to read. I have been participating and organizing book clubs for more than 10 years. I began 2 successful book clubs in the area in 2005 that are still going strong, however, I handed the reins to others in 2011 when I moved to London for 4 years. Now that I'm back, I knew I wanted to be an organizer again, and there were not many evening book clubs for people who work in this area.
Lastly, if you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to send me a note!

Upcoming events (3)

June Book Club

Needs a location

The last few years have been very challenging for those of us who enjoy traveling. So, let's do some armchair traveling which won't require any vaccines, testing, face masks, etc.! We will be reading Arabian Sands by Wilfred Thesiger.

"Arabian Sands" is Wilfred Thesiger's record of his extraordinary journey through the parched "Empty Quarter" of Arabia. Educated at Eton and Oxford, Thesiger was repulsed by the softness and rigidity of Western life-"the machines, the calling cards, the meticulously aligned streets." In the spirit of T. E. Lawrence, he set out to explore the deserts of Arabia, traveling among peoples who had never seen a European and considered it their duty to kill Christian infidels. His now-classic account is invaluable to understanding the modern Middle East.

July Book Club

Needs a location

Since April's book club was a bust due to the location, my absence and a poor showing of no shows (which I'll give the benefit of the doubt and chalk it up to lack of parking), I'm selecting a book for this month so we can keep on a schedule of having a few months reads in advance.

So, this month is short stories by Kate Chopin. Almost every collection includes novella, The Awakening, but there are other stories.

From - https://www.katechopin.org/biography/

Kate Chopin’s short stories were well received in her own time and were published by some of America’s most prestigious magazines—Vogue, the Atlantic Monthly, Harper’s Young People, Youth’s Companion, and the Century. A few stories were syndicated by the American Press Association. Her stories appeared also in her two published collections, Bayou Folk (1894) and A Night in Acadie (1897), both of which received good reviews from critics across the country. Twenty-six of her stories are children’s stories—those published in or submitted to children’s magazines or those similar in subject or theme to those that were. By the late 1890s Kate Chopin was well known among American readers of magazine fiction.
Her early novel At Fault (1890) had not been much noticed by the public, but The Awakening (1899) was widely condemned. Critics called it morbid, vulgar, and disagreeable. Willa Cather, who would become a well known twentieth-century American author, labeled it trite and sordid.
Some modern scholars have written that the novel was banned at Chopin’s hometown library in St. Louis, but this claim has not been able to be verified, although in 1902, the Evanston, Illinois, Public Library removed The Awakening from its open shelves—and the book has been challenged twice in recent years. Chopin’s third collection of stories, to have been called A Vocation and a Voice, was for unknown reasons cancelled by the publisher and did not appear as a separate volume until 1991.
Chopin’s novels were mostly forgotten after her death in 1904, but several of her short stories appeared in an anthology within five years after her death, others were reprinted over the years, and slowly people again came to read her. In the 1930s a Chopin biography appeared which spoke well of her short fiction but dismissed The Awakening as unfortunate. However, by the 1950s scholars and others recognized that the novel is an insightful and moving work of fiction. Such readers set in motion a Kate Chopin revival, one of the more remarkable literary revivals in the United States.
After 1969, when Per Seyersted’s biography, one sympathetic to The Awakening, was published, along with Seyersted’s edition of her complete works, Kate Chopin became known throughout the world. She has attracted great attention from scholars and students, and her work has been translated into other languages, including Albanian, Arabic, Catalan, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, French, Galician, German, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Malayalam, Persian (Farsi), Polish, Portuguese, Serbian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, and Vietnamese. (If you know of a translation into another language, would you write to us?) She is today understood as a classic writer who speaks eloquently to contemporary concerns. The Awakening, “The Storm,” “The Story of an Hour,” “Désirée’s Baby,” “A Pair of Silk Stockings,” “A Respectable Woman,” “Athénaïse,” and other stories appear in countless editions and are embraced by people for their sensitive, graceful, poetic depictions of women’s lives.

August Book Club

Needs a location

This month is a 20th century classic by Octavia Butler, first published in 1979, titled Kindred.

The visionary author’s masterpiece pulls us—along with her Black female hero—through time to face the horrors of slavery and explore the impacts of racism, sexism, and white supremacy then and now.

Dana, a modern black woman, is celebrating her twenty-sixth birthday with her new husband when she is snatched abruptly from her home in California and transported to the antebellum South. Rufus, the white son of a plantation owner, is drowning, and Dana has been summoned to save him. Dana is drawn back repeatedly through time to the slave quarters, and each time the stay grows longer, more arduous, and more dangerous until it is uncertain whether or not Dana's life will end, long before it has a chance to begin.

Octavia Estelle Butler (June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006) was an American science fiction author and a multiple recipient of the Hugo and Nebula awards. In 1995, Butler became the first science-fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship

Past events (54)

May Classics Book Club

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