An interview with Holly Gillum, founding member of Longfellow Nursery School Book Club .
How many members does your club have? I think there's probably 15 of us on paper, and maybe between eight and 12 show up in a given month. A lot of the moms in the group - their kids are graduating out of the preschool, but we're just gonna stay a group. It's sort of taken on its own little thing.
What book are members reading this month? This month, we're doing "Daughter of Fortune" by Isabel Allende.
What books has your group especially liked? Our favorites have been "The Red Tent" by Anita Diamant, "Memoirs of a Geisha" by Arthur Golden and "The Diary of Mattie Spenser" by Sandra Dallas.
Do these book have anything in common? I think we probably like - let me think, well - strong women. ... I guess we really got to know the characters. And I think with all of these books, the stories were historical. "The Diary of Mattie Spenser" was in the 1800s in a territory out West. "Memoirs of a Geisha" is, of course, about a young Japanese woman, not in modern times. "The Red Tent" takes place back in biblical times: Jacob had 12 sons, but he also apparently had one daughter, so this woman [the author] picked up the thread and put her own spin on it. ... The main thing is that they take place in a different time and different cultures.
Do you find part of what members get out of the group is a form of escapism? I wouldn't say escapism. We all have preschool-age kids, so I would say it's definitely a nice outing. It's nice to do something different. Some of us stay at home, some of us work part time, full time.
We take turns doing research [on the books]. Maybe not every month, but somebody is usually willing to do some legwork on each book. We did "Wuthering Heights." Our one member who has a background in literature ... brought some reprints of reviews of the book that came out when it was written, and that was interesting because some people panned it ... and some people wrote about the symbolism in it. So she brought all that, which made for a nice discussion.