“Reading week is in February, so we’ll read February at the start of March.”
“Ok, what book?”
“Yes, but what were we supposed to read in February?”
“The book is called February.”
“And we’re reading it in March.”
And so begins my afternoon with the Not Just Chick Lit Book Club, five ESL teachers who have been meeting to discuss books and life for over ten years.
“I always thought book clubs were for old ladies,” Christine tells me, “but most of us met while we were in teacher training. On our breaks we would discuss what we were reading, and the book club started from there.”
“We have similar interests,” Pasquel continues. “As ESL teachers, we get to meet people from all over the world. We like to read books set in other countries that spark discussions about politics and global issues.”
Some of the Not Just Chick Lit Book Club’s favourite books have been The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Cutting for Stone and Bel Canto. This month they read The Broken Social Scene Story Project and are discussing “Cause = Time / Time = God / ?” Which by sheer coincidence, I happen to have written.
“We don’t usually read short stories,” Laura says. “It was different from discussing a novel. Because it was only twelve pages, we could really get into it and talk about all the elements.”
Over a lunch of salmon, because you must eat salmon after discussing a story where people turn into fish, I ask if they have to like a book to have a good discussion about it.
“Definitely not,” Lois tells me. “We’re all very opinionated, and sometimes the best discussions come from when we don’t agree.”
“And do you ever come across a book you don’t like and can’t finish?”
“We’re pretty dedicated,” Nancy says. “We choose books based on what we’ve heard is good and what we like, so out of respect for whoever chose the book, we try to finish it.”
“What about Roughing it in the Bush, by Suzanna Moodie?” Christine interjects, and the other four groan.
“I read seventy pages,” says Lois.
“Me too,” says Laura. “I said if it doesn’t get better after seventy pages, I’d stop, and it didn’t.”
The Not Just Chick Lit Book Club meets monthly from September to June, monthly excluding for February. Instead, they will be meeting at the beginning of March to discuss February, by Lisa Moore.
On February 8th, Jane Ozkowski, Shari Kasman and Jesse McLean will be reading from their award-winning Broken Social Scene Story Project stories, while The Darcys play the songs that inspired the stories. The whole thing will go down in Guelph at Planet Bean Café at 2 Wyndham street from 6-8pm – and it’s free. Find out more.