Sunday, March 22, 2015


A sunny spring Saturday in Denver. I teach, run by home to change clothes, then head downtown to  for Book Club. Other members have come and gone, but six of us have been meeting for almost twenty years. Today's book is, ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Tony Doerr. I loved it and can't wait to talk about it.

Union Station has been open six or eight months, but I have not been down there yet. I wander through a huge lobby, looking for a what seems to be a non-existent piano that Val has designated as the meeting area, and wondering how I will ever connect with anyone. My ADD self, which doesn't usually do enclosed shopping malls, kicks in, and I struggle to find the piano, because there is so much else to look at- people, little shops (Hey, there's a sign for Tattered Cover Books, did they move over here?), gorgeous antique architecture and fixtures.  

Just when I am about to ask someone if there is another lobby with a piano, I hear someone calling my name. It is Brenna, who has staked a claim on a quieter corner. Soon Brenna spots Val across the lobby and calls on her cell phone.

"Turn left! No, left again. Turn around. We can see you." 

Brenna and I laugh as Val follows the somewhat convoluted directions, finally spots us and makes her way across the lobby. Brenna and Karen head off to find a beer, while I hold down our encampment in the lobby. 

We know Karen is not coming- she is at a funeral in Saint Louis, but Terri is supposed to be arriving by light rail. No one has heard from her, but after fifteen minutes, we decide not to wait any longer. It is time to bring our final member into the conversation.

Laura is not in Denver right now. She is eight or ten thousand, or maybe a million miles away in Hong Kong, doing a two year stint as director of professional development at an international school corporation. In December, we chose our books for the next six months, so she could buy/download them. And every month, she joins us via Skype or FaceTime or telephone, from her apartment in China. Brenna is our technology guru, who makes it all come together.

Today it takes several attempts. No connection via Skype. Nothing via FaceTime. "I'm going to try calling," says Brenna. But then Laura's face pops up on the iPad. It is early in Hong Kong, only four on Sunday morning and she is still in bed. We wonder for a minute why we decided to meet at two, and promise that next month we will meet a little later. 

Laura assures us she doesn't care that we have called so early and reaches for her glasses and her book, ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, by Tony Doerr. Let the book talk begin! Terri arrives and somehow manages to find us in that huge lobby. She makes her way to where the iPad can see her. 

Some months, depending on what has gone on in people's lives, and on people's interest in the book, we just talk, and the book kind of takes a backseat, but today we are ready to talk book. This meeting has been rescheduled several times and Brenna, Laura, and I finished the book over a month ago. Val, an avid reader, has read several other books, including THE GOLDFINCH, but has not finished ALL THE LIGHT. 

A spirited conversation ensues as we make our way through the book.

"What page are you on?"

"Wasn't that the grandfather, it was her grandfather on the radio, wasn't it?"

"What actually happened to the climax?"

"Could you believe how it all came together, right here?"

"What page is that?

"Do you think that's really where the whole thing came together?"

And so we sit, four fifty-plus women, in the middle of Union Station, surrounded by young and beautiful people, talking about our books, for almost an hour. Finally, Brenna's phone is almost out of juice, Val has to head off to Fort Collins for an evening with a new friend, and Laura is ready to go back to bed. We make plans for next month, BOSTON GIRL, April 11, place to be determined, I think. We say goodbye to Laura, "Love you sweetie! Miss you! Only a couple of more months until June!" and the screen goes blank.

Brenna, Terri and I head across the street for a burger and continue the conversation- books, life, Laura's dog, my boys.

We have been reading talking books and loving each other for almost twenty years. 

Book club. 

Book Club, twenty years, Union Station, Denver


Judy said...

My book club operates much the same way sans technology. We're meeting Thursday to discuss a book I read ages ago due to many rescheduled meetings.
I tried listening to All the Light on my phone as I walk, but I can't concentrate on it. I'm waiting to borrow the print version of it from one of my students. She should be finished with it this week. Fingers crossed.

Sonja said...

what a lovely book club group you have. I admit, I am envious. to have shared stories of all types with friends of 20 years is a blessing.

Linda B said...

Envious of your group, Carol, but happy you've even continued to include your faraway friend. Sounds like a wonderful time.

Unknown said...

Wow! I can't even imagine the books that you've talked about during your 20 years! Congratulations for your long frienships and your books!

Lori said...

I envy you your group. Maybe I need to work on making one happen.

Rose Cappelli said...

Book groups are the best! I have been in one for 25 years. To say we have shared more than books is an understatement. Like a writing community, a reading community is a source of support and friendship. All the Light I Cannot See is our next book. Thanks for sharing.

Mary Ann Reilly said...

This is inspiring. Your settling in to discuss the new book and the obvious commitment (Hong Kong, no less)of your group members speaks to the idea of book sharing being so pleasurable.

We need to return or perhaps find for the first time, the pleasure of the text at school.

Unknown said...

How special that you have belonged to this group for 20 years! What dedication you must have!

I am a huge bibliophile, but I've never belonged to a book club before. I move every few years because I am an international teacher and currently live in a place without many expats or books in English. Perhaps I can find an online book club?

-Amanda at

Molly Hogan said...

Carol I loved reading about your book club and wrote a poem about mine for my slice yesterday:
We were also discussing All The Light We Cannot See! Great book! I loved hearing about how your club has evolved over the years and admire your technological persistence in the fact of geographical distance. Twenty years is a wonderful accomplishment! Thanks for sharing.

elsie said...

A circle of friends to talk books or not and to share time and a meal is awesome. Plus the fact that you have been doing this for twenty years! I can see that this is a highlight in the month. How great is technology to allow your friend to participate from Hong Kong! Amazing!

Karen said...

Book clubs are indeed special and sacred things. I love how long you've been together, and how your friend joined via tech - that's some dedication to being part of the group!!
My book club is the same - some times we don't even talk about the book, but it was still time well spent.
Cherish these wonderful women!

Maureen said...

Your book club has been around such a nice long time! These words are a sign that the book was awesome:
"today we are ready to talk book." When friends get together and choose to talk book, you know it is worth reading! I need to check it out.

Mary Lee said...

The importance of things that last...

Ramona said...

Carol, love the line, "...we are ready to talk book." In addition to my regular book club, I have an online book club with two friends who used to be in our book club, but have moved away. And now, I must quit reading posts and dive back into the book that I must finish before Thursday. I took All the Light We Cannot See to our retreat and it made the cut for next year's list.

Nanc said...

Yay for book club and including your friend during her overseas stint. I think I now have another book to read. I'm so glad you have been there for each other through thick and thin. 20 years...sounds like you should have a party. ! xo

BK said...

My book club is a group of 3. Easy to schedule and we often only talk briefly about the book but we all loved the Doerr book too.
Loved your documenting.
Digital Bonnie

Lynn said...

Oh gosh Carol my slice was about our book club as well and we read same book! We had a very interesting conversation about the book as well!

Lynn said...

My slice was about a book club we just started in our new home...we just moved to New Mexico 7 months ago. We also read the same book and also had a very interesting discussion!

Stacey Shubitz said...

20 years!??!? Wow! That is incredible!