The cats knew something was up. They'd been fed early and without complaint. The house was clean and quiet, still tidy after my mother's visit on the weekend. The gorgonzola and Evansdale brie were out of the fridge, soft and luscious, the virgin olive oil was dark green and pungent, the dukkah spicy, the Highfield chardonnay and Saint Clair pinot gris chilled just right, and the Kawarau Reserve pinot noir was coming nicely to room temperature. Our new couch looked great, the cushions neatly arranged, the CD player was loaded, and the husband had been dispatched to see a movie.
The box of books was downstairs, waiting. As host of the bookclub this time, it was my responsibility to add some new books to our pool. My choices were largely based on books I'd read recently, some bought on impulse at bargain warehouse stores, others specially sought out.
- Mr Pip by Lloyd Jones
- My Name Was Judas by CK Stead
- The Bastard of Istanbul by Elif Shafak
- The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Each book is very different, but I wanted to know what the others would think of them. New books are eyed eagerly, fallen upon greedily, clutched possessively. Negotiations are sometimes necessary, schedules and commitments over the next month or two are weighed and compared, reading capacity determined, and books eventually selected.
We manage to do some serious reviewing of the books, their language, the characters, what we liked and what we didn’t. Recommendations are made carefully. A less than enthusiastic review can sentence a book to the bottom of the box for months if not years, neglected, unchosen. Other books become lifetime favourites, candidates for our annual Bookclub Supreme Award. Books are sometimes hotly debated, loved by some, detested by others. Despite knowing each other so well, we’re never quite sure who will love and who will hate a particular book, and why. That’s what keeps it interesting. Why we keep coming back. It’s not just for the friendship, wine and cheese.