Wonder Pens Book Club
Danielle on our team here had the great idea to start a staff book club, which is just one of many reasons why it's so wonderful to have her here in the shop. I don't know if it's sometimes that a connection that people who like to read are people who like to write, and who like to write by paper (hence working in a stationery shop), but most of our team are people that read books, which I think is pretty great. I think I read somewhere that you can tell how developed a culture or a civilization is by its libraries, and I love that the Toronto Public Library is one of the busiest library systems in the world - a fact which does make me feel slightly better about my late fines. Here's a great read on libraries and reading, in case you've got the time. In any case, unfortunately we couldn't quite catch everyone for this first meet - we have a few students and we're coming into exam season - but I'm looking forward to spring and summer park picnics with everyone.
We had our first meeting at Mercury Espresso, which is on Queen Street quite close to the shop, to discuss our first book, Catch-22. I'd read it in college, but I re-read for the book club - I'd forgotten how long it was. When I was a teacher, I lived in the west end, but my first teaching gig was two half time positions, one in south east Scaborough and one in north east Scarborough, so I spent a lot of time on the road, listening to audio books. I figured with driving back and forth to the cottage that I would get through the book in no time, but Catch-22 is a bit circular in plot, so I eventually gave up with the audio book and just dug out my hard copy. There's really nothing like holding a book in your hands. In case you're curious, our next book is Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Unfortunately our book club is just for the team here, but you're more than welcome to read along with us, and quiz us on our progress when you come visit us in the shop. It's Bogdan's pick, so you can give him the toughest questions.
***Jon and I have been sharing a notebook to list the books we've read since we've been together. The first half of the notebook is mine and the second half is his, and every year we can count up how many books were read. Looking back over the years, I had been reading lots and lots, and then my first year of teaching was a bit slow, and then it picked up again. Then the first year we opened up the shop was a complete drought which lasted through the second year of the business, which is when we had Caleb. Over the last year or two, though, I've been picking up books again, which feels really good. Actually, I've been re-reading a lot of books, which I almost never did when I was younger. I think I wanted to get through a lot of the classics, and a lot of the books I imagined one "should" read, but it's really a very nice thing, to settle into a book that you've read before and that you remember liking. Those familiar characters and jokes and relationships, and always a few surprises due to a faulty and faltering memory. As a side note, I love that Caleb is patient and quiet enough to sit through appointments and interviews and book club meetings like this. He doesn't say very much, but I wonder what he's picked up just from listening - I can only hope he's absorbing lots. Caleb is quite interested in books himself - it's funny because for a little while I was genuinely worried about him being so anti-book, he would flip through the pages literally as fast as he could so you couldn't even read a single word or see a picture, and then get up and off to go play with a truck. These days, he has his favourite books, mostly about trucks and cars, but he loves to have anything read to him. I have to remind myself that this is both something that is amazing and wonderful, especially while I'm hiding his book on firetrucks because I can only read about Jan's class trip to the fire station so many times.
Vicarious Book Club: I just read “Station Eleven” from the library, and liked it so much I ordered in another one of her books “Last Night in Montreal” so thanks for a new author!
“Catch 22” came out when I was a teenager—never could finish it. One of our family friends loved it and laughed and laughed, but I never got the joke.
So glad to hear you enjoyed Station Eleven – I also enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. I’m also looking into more of her books, although I don’t have any on my list right now. I’ll have to keep Last Night in Montreal in mind.
Catch-22 is a tough one to get through, it seemed longer this time than it did when I read it in college. One of the team also couldn’t finish it! :)
Paul Godden said:
When I worked as an IT consultant in the UK, I could spend more than six hours a day in the car. Audiobooks kept me sane (though my wife might argue with that). I listened to Catch-22 more than once, plus countless others… and you’re right. There is nothing to equal the feel of the book in your hands, and the almost eager revelation of your favorite pages as it’s opened up.
Yes, sometimes with traffic in Toronto and driving through the city, with construction or snowy weather, I could spend stretches of 2-3 hours at once! It was great for me mentally to still be listening to stories and books, but I don’t think I could ever convert to audiobooks/e-books full time, even with no longer have to lug around boxes and boxes of physical books every time we move!
Yes, I have really enjoyed re-reading books! It’s always interesting to see which books you end up loving more and seeing more deeply into, and which books surprise you with how much less you like them the second or third time around.
And I know just what you mean – but they say that life is in the mess! ;)
Susan White said:
My husband and I also share a notebook for keeping track of what we’ve read. I’ve been re-reading some of my favourites and the interesting thing is that with age and maturity you sometimes see a book from a whole new perspective which makes it that much more enjoyable.
Yes, this is definitely true about the re-reading! Sometimes I find myself surprised that I had once enjoyed a book so much, and other times I find myself falling in love even more deeply. A marvelous journey.
Lorie Truemner said:
I have re-read many of the books I enjoyed as a child and adolescent. It’s delightful to find nuances and concepts that eluded you in your youth and turn reading the old book into a fresh experience .
And … if it weren’t for books and magazines and various kinds of paper (and dare I say, my pen collection?) I would have a very tidy house!