roomLast night I hosted our February book club meeting (!), and the night was magical. After weeks of choosing paint colors for our house, actually painting (Joe), setting the menu for the night, selecting a color theme for the table linens and floral arrangements and finding time to actually read the book, I was relieved when 7:30 p.m. came around and guests began arriving. Admission: I know not everyone takes hosting book club as seriously as I do. My book choice was Room by Emma Donoghue mostly because it was selected as one of the New York Times Top 10 Books of 2010. When you choose a book from that list, you rest assured that at least part of the group is bound to like it. A synopsis of Room via Good Reads:

In many ways, Jack is a typical 5-year-old. He likes to read books, watch TV, and play games with his Ma. But Jack is different in a big way--he has lived his entire life in a single room, sharing the tiny space with only his mother and an unnerving nighttime visitor known as Old Nick. For Jack, Room is the only world he knows, but for Ma, it is a prison in which she has tried to craft a normal life for her son. When their insular world suddenly expands beyond the confines of their four walls, the consequences are piercing and extraordinary.

I am proud to state that Room was a hit with book club. It was sad, freaky, terrifying, enlightening, depressing, hopeful and funny all at the same time. Set upon a deeply disturbing premise - being kidnapped and held captive by a deranged person in a soundproofed cell for many years - Room was entirely original and like nothing else I've ever read. The book is narrated by 5-year-old Jack, and the tone takes some getting used to, but the investment pays off. Our meeting last night included some of the most lively - and lengthy - book discussion we've had in quite a while. Because Room addressed so many varying personal and psychological issues, we had even more to say about the book than usual. How do you think you would raise a child while imprisoned in an 11' x 11' room? Did you notice Ma's real name was never revealed? In what section of the country do you think Room was located? What part of the story or which character did you wish was developed more? Did you sympathize at all with Ma's father? The discussion was wonderful.

My book club menu wasn't entirely original, but it was well received. After Karen, our resident wine opener, cracked open a few bottles, Meg started things off with her delicious warmed brie appetizer, and I served Martha's Mac and Cheese, Contessa's Parmesan Asparagus and a brand new salad with homemade dressing that stole the show (recipe to follow on HCG). If you ever doubted the authenticity of HCG (and why would you? This site is nothing if not authentic), my book club menu is proof that I live Here Comes Gina Laura's chocolate chip cookies, MR's PB&J bars and Asher's chocolate covered pretzels via JTS made for a delicious dessert selection.

We did something crazy last night and set a tentative book club hosting schedule for the remainder of 2011. Yes, many of our book club members are Type A personalities (MR and I definitely are; we took online quizzes last week). We're sure the husbands of book club members will be the giddy when they learn the dates by when all home improvement projects must be completed. The most anticipated 2011 meeting will take place in December when Katie (a.k.a. KB) will unveil the 200-year-old farmhouse she and her husband P. Hitch have been diligently renovating. All of book club is dying to see the transformation - this is an actual, intense renovation, not a pansy ass one like HCG would do. Even better, KB's house will be decorated for Christmas for our December meeting!

After 18 very successful months, our book club is still without a name, so I turned to my dad for some suggestions. He gave it his best shot, but Dad's best suggestion for our book club name is more fitting for the intermediate reading group of a second grade class: Bookworms. Really, Dad?