Where the Crawdads Sing… Bookclub Meeting

When one of our members read Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens, she immediately knew it was the book she wanted our club to read. The only problem was that the waiting list at the library was extensive. A few of us bought the book and passed it on to another member over a period of four months until everyone had a chance to read this amazing work of art. Once the club meeting was scheduled, our group of eleven, reduced to only seven in attendance due to scheduling conflicts – but we still had a great meeting.

When a book lends us a theme, we often try to bring it into our meeting. Kya lives in an old shack of a house, with nothing but basics, and sometimes even less than that.

Nate befriends Kya with a variety of beautiful bird feathers that she adds to a collection of those she has also found herself. I ordered a pack of 25 natural bird feathers on Etsy to scatter on the table and tuck into the twine wrapped around our napkins along with a plume from a grass plant that made me think of marsh grasses.

Originally I just sprinkled the bird feathers on both sides of the table, but then I saw these wood disks that I wanted to use for my Gal Pal Alpine Friendsgiving in a couple of weeks and remembered that Nate left a bird feather on a tree stump. I placed the feathers on the wood disks to represent Nate’s gesture, that coaxed Kya toward trusting him.

The member who chose the book brought a textbook from the 60’s, her hurricane lanterns and shells …. Kya’s lessons with Nate, the lantern that she worked to buy oil for and the shells along the beach of the marshes.

The Menu:

Mini Chicken Pot Pies with puffed pastry lids. The filling can be made a day ahead and the puffed pastry added the day of. Brushed with egg wash around the sides of the ramekin and top of the dough, an Italian flat leaf parsley leaf on top.

Black eyed pea salad. Also can be made the day ahead. I used frozen peas that I cooked according to the package. They still had a little crunch to them afterwards rather than soggy from the can. I used a peach instead of mango that seemed more appropriate for a southerner, added agave instead of sugar and white balsamic vinegar.

Madeleine corn muffins. 1 box of Jiffy corn muffin mix, 1/3 cup of evaporated milk, 1 egg, 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes. Mix in a bowl until well combined. Cooking spray on madeleine pan, one full teaspoon of mixture into each mold. Bake 15 -20 minutes.

After a lively discussion about the various characters and events of the unique story, assisted at some points with questions from a book club kit found online, we collectively agreed that Ms. Owens’ book was quite a literary journey that we very much enjoyed.

This meeting would be the last of this our fifth year. We have read a total of 25 books together with a vast variety of tales and topics and look forward to the new adventures upon written pages we will experience during our sixth year in 2020.


Hosting a Book Club

A newlywed couple finds "Something In The Water" 
while scuba diving in Bora Bora.
For the table, paper napkins with seashells, coral and anchors- ironed out and made into a table runner; borrowed shells and coral arranged over tropical green leaves from my yard.
A newlywed couple finds “Something In The Water”
while scuba diving in Bora Bora.
For the table, paper napkins with seashells, coral and anchors- ironed out and made into a table runner; borrowed shells and coral arranged over tropical green leaves from my yard.

The inspirational seed for starting a book club was planted many years ago by the eldest of a family of seven cousins to my ex-husband. As I explained in my post “My Flower Girl’s Wedding”, my life bloomed with culture and creativity from time spent with this extended family. We frequently joined this cousin and her husband for dinners that never lacked in conversations that I found to be interesting and simulating. I learned over time that while she had a wonderful personality, she was also an avid reader. Over the years I found that other people I’ve met who were avid readers stood out in the same way. They were information seekers and the information they gained from reading extended into interesting conversations.

The Paris Apartment, by Michele Gable was based on a true event.
Smart T.V. used to share images of the actual abandoned Paris Apt.
Cheese, crackers and fruit board. 
Fruit tart from a local bakery.
The Paris Apartment, by Michele Gable was based on a true event.
mart T.V. used to share images of the actual abandoned Paris Apt.
Cheese, crackers and fruit board. 
Fruit tart from a local bakery.

Every book read, slightly changes the reader. It teaches empathy, opening our eyes to situations we may not have experienced; it re-forms our perceptions; it can help us see a situation from a different perspective; it can take us on a journey through another’s eyes; it educates us about history, surprising discoveries, bees or owls, or medical conditions. It helps us grow and in turn, as my mother once said of me, “she can talk a little about almost everything”. These are all of the reasons I love reading.

When I held my first book club meeting, I advised my group that while I enjoy being creative when I have friends over, no one was obligated to follow my lead when their time came to host. I fully understand not everyone as interested in cooking or entertaining, or simply may just not have the time to do so. There’s also the burden of cost, and while the meetings are not meant to be costly, I’ve allowed everyone to put their own spin on our meetings. I also offered by space if there is a conflict with hosting at their own.

We agreed to meet every other month, to allow space for other activities, our last meeting usually held in late October or early November knowing the holidays require other attentions. In all, we usually have at least five meetings per year. On two occasions, our book lent to finding a restaurant rather than meeting at the home of a host. We found a French cafe’ to meet for “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLean. Below we met at Muriels in the French Quarter for “Welcome to The Garden Club” written by a New Orleans author Jenny Tilbury.

"Welcome to the Garden Party" by Jenny Tilbury- about of group of 
French Quarter Garden Club Socialites.
“Welcome to the Garden Party” by Jenny Tilbury- about of group of
French Quarter Garden Club Socialites.

If you’ve always wanted to be part of a book club, you can reach out to your friends like I did (see Birth of a Book Club post). If you don’t have a group of friends that are readers, look for one to join at your local library or museum. Barnes and Nobles has a book club that meets over a newly published book every other month. Find a place to meet a group of readers to form a separate club. Don’t avoid starting a book club just because of the limited space or the worries of hosting like Martha Stewart. A book club can meet at a nearby coffee shop or in a reserved library meeting room.

The Chaperone" by Laura Moriarty 
Surprisingly filled with content and based in the 1920's and 1930's 
made me think of Art Deco.
“The Chaperone” by Laura Moriarty
Surprisingly filled with content and based in the 1920’s and 1930’s 

made me think of Art Deco.
Orange curd cake with toasted meringue.
Orange curd cake with toasted meringue.

We all gravitate toward different types of books and this club has introduced me to genre’s I would have never found on my own. We’ve read books that taught us to never see a bee the same way again; to remember the sufferings of past holocaust victims; inspire us to travel; realize how society hasn’t changed, it’s just attached it’s judgment to differ issues; the strength of someone who discovers a difficult medical condition can reshape their lives in a better way; the possibility that one apartment somewhere in the world can be ignored for decades and then found to have valuable treasures. Below is a list of some of the books we’ve read:

  • Sarah’s Key, by Tatiann DeRosnay
  • The Paris Wife, by Paula McLean
  • Educating Alice, by Alice Steinbachy
  • A Man Called Ove, by Fredrik Backman
  • The Paris Apartment, by Michelle Gable
  • The Bees, by Laline Paul
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein
  • Wesley the Owl, by Stacey O’Brien
  • Left Neglected, by Lisa Genova
  • The Chaperone, by Laura Moriarty
  • The Gvernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie, by Mary Ann Shaffer & Ann Barrows

I have such deep respect and admiration for a well written book. These authors spend years performing research, applying creativity and intrigue, inventing characters and dialog that don’t really exist, but are so real we think we know them in the end. They describe places they’ve never been to from photos and imagination and make us feel like we are also there. We often take for granted the effort, dedication and time that it takes to write a wonderfully imaginative book, simply for our own entertainment. It is a craft and passion that one is born with and must express. How lucky we are to be the recipients of the fruits of their labor.


The Birth of a Book Club

Some of the more than twenty books our group has read.

It started with an idea that had been brewing inside of me for many years (much like this blog) and I finally decided to put that idea into motion with an invitation letter that I enclosed in the Christmas cards of friends I thought might be interested in participating in a book club.

Below is a portion of that invitation:

“The busyness of trying to balance family responsibilities, build new or maintain ongoing careers; strive for a healthy mind and body and keep in touch with friends can be an overwhelming challenge.  I’ve learned that you have to form a plan. Make Time!

For years I have had a secret desire to form a book club.  As “life” has made it more and more difficult in recent years to read the many books I at one time committed myself to (mostly before I had cable television and all of those darn cooking shows to distract me) as well as spend quality time with my friends; I have sought to come up with a way to steal some time for my friends in the new year.

My idea is to invite several of my friends to read a suggested book and then collectively gather at my house  (or alternate at one of yours) for afternoon tea as the Brits call it to visit and share a group conversation discussing the book we read.  Over the years I’ve read many books and I’ve always known that bringing a group together that read the same book, provides a common subject of discussion with different perspectives and ideas that can reap gifts from the read greater than one of us may have gained on our own.”

From there I requested an R.S.V.P. deadline and of the 8 or so invitations I extended, we started with 5 including myself and a light, neutral first read, “The Five People You Meet in Heaven”, by Mitch Albom. By the second meeting our group extended to 6 when a friend of one of my members said she would like to join. Hence, the formation of the formation of the..

Social Writes Book Club Est. 2015

Our host provided some “Sweet Tea” and yummy finger foods.

This February marks the beginning of our 5th year. Our club has grown to 10 members with 2 alternates. Approximately five times a year (every other month) a different member selects a book and hosts the meeting at her home. We have read a number of interesting books that have informed us, surprised us, and entertained us. The refreshments vary from simple to sometimes when the book lends it, a “themed meeting” like the one below. “The Paris Key” by Juliet Blackwell, inspired a French Bistro meeting.

Our host served up French onion soup, chocolate croissants and macrons.

In 2019 we continue on with memories of great books, loving friendships and great food. Stay tuned. Our next meeting is later this month. If you’d like to read along the book is “Something in the Water” by Catherine Steadman.  Until then…. Happy reading!