Saturday, May 10, 2008

Book Review - And Thoughts on the Book Club

What a lovely book. "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency", written by Alexander McCall Smith. In the tradition of the home-spun detective using common sense and a keen sense of observance here comes Mma Ramotswe, Botswana's one and only lady private detective.

Her character is someone I would like to have as a friend. She's sort of an wizened person who uses her brains to get through life. We go on a series of cases and get to know her style of solving minor crimes and disappearances.

Meanwhile the reader is taken to Botswana in the southern Africa right along the edge of the Kalahari Desert. We get a little peek into life in this distant land as we learn just a bit about their cultures and traditions.

The writing is light and airy, being written by Alexander McCall Smith, a white man who was born and grew up in what is now Zimbabwe. Actually I was a bit put out when I realized this. Once again, I kind of hoped/expected the author to be more like the main character through which he speaks.

But that slight disappointment didn't remove the pleasure of the book and I am in anticipation of reading the next in the series, "Tears of the Giraffe".

I'm afraid that book is going to wait as I will be tearing into "The Book Thief" in expectation of the next book club meeting. Tee hee hee.

Thinking about book club reminds me of something I keep meaning to put into words, and I'm not certain how... but let's stumble through, eh?
I'm really enjoying book club. We are mostly expatriates which immediately brings us a bit closer than the average simple book club... we have something else in common. We are also exercising something else some of us don't have a chance to enjoy much here... that is just being with people who "get" you. They understand your jokes and silly references to obscure movies and pop culture whereas the Germans have their own pop culture references which leave us completely dumbfounded. This simpatico-type feeling really warms my heart about my expat friends.

On top of that warm and fuzzy thing, I find that when I stray into a book store I almost always end up in the same area, reaching for the same old authors because they've churned out a new book. What is interesting about this club is that these people are reading things that I NEVER would have just picked up. While sometimes the book simply isn't my cup of tea, I still am exposed to subject matter which I would never have explored without the book club list. This is a new kind of mind-opening experience for me.

An example. The above book and the second in the series were placed in a "bring some, take some" book exchange at the last book club meeting. I happened to hear the "donor" of the book saying that he really enjoyed the story and gave it a high recommendation. Another person seconded it and soon a third was saying that she too enjoyed the book. Through this club I get to know a bit about each of these people. I get an idea if I will like the book based on what I know about the books that THEY like and that I've read with them. All of this is quite fascinating to a person who's never been a part of a book club before.

Now, here is what I would like to do...
I would like a "movie club". It would be a group of people who agree to all see the same movie before the next meeting. Then we could discuss the movie. THIS too sounds wonderful to me!

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