An interview with Kathy McDowell, founding member of Good Friends, Good Books book club.
What are you reading? The Miracle at St. Anna by James McBride. It's about the Negro 92nd Division in Italy in World War II. Amidst prejudice, they're trying to help this town come out from under Nazi occupation. It's historical fiction.
How did you choose this book? We read another of his books, The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother. Whenever we like an author, we try and read more of his or her books.
How long have you been meeting? We've been meeting for nine years.
How was your club formed? I started it with a friend of mine. I was in graduate school and found I wasn't making time to read for pleasure. I figured that if I was in a book club, I could definitely make time to read one book a month. It started out in our neighborhood and just kind of grew from there. We keep it at 12 [members] and rotate among each other's homes. We meet once a year to select books for the whole year. We try to mix it up so we're not reading the same genre each month.
What are some favorites of your group? The Chili Queen by Sandra Dallas. She's from Denver, and her books are much more about the West. It's a great story and has an intricate plot. It has a surprise ending. We liked One Thousand White Women: The Journals of May Dodd by Jim Fergus. We also liked the nonfiction book Paula by Isabel Allende.
What was that about? It was about her daughter, who was very sick and was dying a slow death. It's kind of a diary of Isabel's that she wrote during that time. It goes into her family history as she was going through this process.
Do you have special activities correlating with your books? People do try and serve refreshments that tie into the book. When we read Paula, we had South American food. When we read At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon, the hostess made the marmalade cake.
What has kept you together all these years? We have a wide range of reading interests. Everyone really enjoys getting together to talk about the books. We keep coming up with new and exciting authors and books that we wouldn't have read on our own. The group has opened our eyes to so many books. We are a diverse group of professional women, and many of them have decided to stay at home to raise their children in the last five years. We just really love to read.