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My book group meets about once a month.  It’s almost nine years now and there’s never been much discussion about a name.  Come to think of it, there hasn’t been any.  We’re a sui generis  bunch, currently okay with our unpretentious/portentous acronym, GWNN-Y ~ Group With No Name-Yet.  But we’re traumatizingly good at giving out awards ~ THE GWNNYs ~ once a year to our favorite author, character and book.  All by ourselves, in someone’s living room.


I like our democratic style.  We each get a turn to choose a book (by way of miracle or magic) and then some of us actually read it. Or not. Either way, there’s no moral obligation to say that you liked it.

Fiction, nonfiction, cookbook, exposé, true crime or classic ~ it’s all fodder for discussion that often includes cover art, jacket copy, the hummus-thingy in the snack bowl, any food that is important to us, and who read the last page first.

Coming up for us in July is an oldie-but-goodie, Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser. It’s over a century since Dreiser began his first novel by writing on a half-sheet of yellow copy paper the words “Sister Carrie.”

It tells the story of two characters: Carrie Meeber, an ordinary girl who rises from low-paid wage earner to high-paid actress, and George Hurstwood, a member of the upper-middle class who falls from his comfortable lifestyle to a life on the streets. I’m thinking it’s the perfect book for We-Who-Digress. There’s a mistress of a traveling salesman, an accomplice to a theft, chorus girls, strikes and strikebreakers, celebrity and suicide.

Want to read it with us?  There’s a  Project Gutenberg free e-book here.

We’re all familiar with the classics and best sellers from way back when, but how many have we actually read? (Cliff Notes do not count.) Like The Man In the Gray Flannel Suit by Sloan Wilson, recently reissued with a new introduction.

Are you a fan of MadMen?  Westport, Connecticut up-and-comers Tom and Betsy Rath are the roots from which Don and Betty Draper grew. This novel about the veneer of suburban prosperity, and the disaffection that roils underneath it, hit the shelves in 1955.

Arguably Ireland’s most well-regarded literary son, James Joyce, wasn’t always an optimistic fellow but he told a cracking good story.  This is his first novel which introduces us to Stephen Dedalus (who returns in Ulysses). The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man laces together scenes from an Irish upbringing that is like the author’s own and reveals, in details both poignant and mordantly funny, Joyce’s conflicted feelings about Ireland, Catholic guilt and the myriad ties that bind.


Are you reading a classic?  Revisiting an oldie-but-goodie? Rediscovering an emerald among the M&Ms?  Do share.

Meet you here next Sunday ~ Historical Fiction


  1. Oooh love the sound of your book club! I’m also fond of books & reading..Usually reading at least 2 books at any given time..Hadn’t heard of Sister Carrie though(and I thought I’d read most of the good classics) Sounds like a read I’d enjoy, so I’ll be checking it out..Can’t say I’m reading any classics now or lately..Reading alot of fitness at 50 books! Just in case my metabolism changes as much as other folks say it will..Oh, the joys of aging 🙂


    1. Ah, liquid love…a gentler way to get the words down. I wonder what to call it now, the keystroke and the screen? So Berna, I have Fitness at 60, but it’s not a riveting read. Pull out Forever Fifty and Other Negotiations by Judith Viorst. The dip back into When Did I Stop Being Twenty? and It’s Hard to Be Hip Over Thirty….you get the idea? She’s got the decades covered. 🙂 Sister Carrie is new to me too, I think, so let me know what you think if you decide to plow through it.


      1. Oooo I like the sound of ‘When Did I Stop Being Twenty?’ Lol, seems like that happened & I didn’t even realize it..And I’ll for sure come back with a review after I check Sister Carrie out..I know pretty quickly when I crack a book open if I’ll finish it…


  2. I’m in turmoil about The Classics right now. It’s because of a movie. Gatsby. So there’s lots of talk amongst the English Teachers I know about the movie and the book. During these discussions, I try to sit small so as to NOT be asked about it. Reason: I THINK I read it via a HighMarksOutlineSeries-sort of book. And I hate to tell that son of mine who’s so literary and such a good teacher that his Mom is a luddite or whatever such are called who don’t read the regular book, but depend on the reviews of the book. I’m like the book store owner in the cartoon who’s telling his customer, “I didn’t read it but it’s great.”

    That said, all that Toni says about this book group is true. I love the unpretentious and non-posturing comments. We DO cover a lot of ground in our discussions. (I do NOT rely on the aforementioned outline series for this group, I mean, I’m a grown-up now.)



  3. The one book I have re-read several times is “Trinity” by Leon Uris. I don’t know if it qualifies as a true classic (published in 1976) but it is to me. I have never heard of “Sister Carrie” and may take advantage of the e-copy.
    Enjoy your summer reading.


  4. Loved the coverage and thus suggestions of classics. Again, it’s always good to re-visit those you read when your point of view was different.


  5. It does my heart good to hear all this chatter about the classics… The classics are alive and well and really fun to read now that we are no longer forced to read them.


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