Book-It! I mean, Book Club!

January 13, 2010 at 1:19 pm (Uncategorized) (, , )

Do you remember Book It?  Growing up, this was something that gave me sublime pleasure.  I could read as much as I wanted and then turn in my star-filled button for a personal pan pizza at Pizza Hut.  I never felt guilty about reading when I was doing Book It because I felt it was for a just cause, since obviously anything that gets me free pizza is a worthwhile endeavor.

I wish something like Book It had followed me through high school and college, but alas it was only honors English classes and Bachelor degrees that I dealt with.  Undergraduate studies didn’t damper my love of reading and it’s a hobby I enjoy to this very day.  When I moved to Chicago I decided it would be cool to find a book club, so I could sit around with actual people and discuss new books.  Luckily a book club found me, and last night was my second evening with these literate ladies.  I guess books and pizza can still go hand in hand, even when you’re a grown up.

Let me start this by saying we’re not a bunch of dry, uptight old broads who analyze every bit and piece of everything we read.  Actually, last night I was one of maybe 3 women in our group of 10 that had even finished our book of the month.  No matter, we all sat around and discussed it anyway.  We met up at Spacca Napoli, which is in Ravenswood and serves the pizzas in the picture.  I had never been there before and enjoyed a glass of nice red wine before my meal.  Both food and drink were delicious and our service was exceptional.  I think our waitress wanted to join our club, because she went on and on about how cute we were and how awesome it was that we even had a book club.  She even brought us out a complimentary appetizer AND a free dessert (baked bread with Nutella…I’d never had Nutella before and I’m rather ashamed at what I’ve been missing.  Freaking amazing).  By the end of the night she had named our club The Lunching Ladies, which is especially ironic since we meet for dinner.  Anyway, the restaurant and the service were phenomenal so I highly recommend the place.  The prices were reasonable, the atmosphere was laid back and I left so satisfying full that I almost fell asleep on the train.

This was the (fictional) book we read for the month.  It was the first novel of by Australian guy and I enjoyed it, for the most part.  It’s about this man (who I self-diagnosed as schizophrenic and bipolar) who has some crazy philosophical ideas and assumptions and ends up screwing the continent of Australia out of millions of dollars; his brother, who is a much beloved criminal known for inspiring honesty in sports; and his son, who grows up with the depressed and manic father and becomes his own, eerily similar person.  Make sense?  Yeah I thought so.  I thought the story was interesting and the main characters were the type that you love to hate, but I think the book could’ve been shortened by say, a few hundred pages (I think it topped out at 530).  Some (okay, many) of the ramblings of the father got old real quick and since the entire book jumped around and used different narrators to tell various parts of the story, it was a little difficult to follow at times.  The general consensus of the book club was that the book was a dud – most everyone felt it was much too long and a little too confusing.  As I said, I liked it, but it also takes a whole lot for me to avidly dislike any book.  It wasn’t the most thrilling thing I’ve ever read but it was creative and random enough for me to derive some pleasure out of.

All in all, a successful meeting.  The gals in my club are interesting and fun and I’m excited to get into the groove of going more often.  If only every server we encountered would be so liberal with the freebies!  No matter – good conversation, good company, books, wine and food make for a great evening even if you don’t get a free dessert.  But the dessert does help.


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