Once every month, we’ll share the motivation and passion that drives one book club — it could be yours! — from across the globe. These are the people who have combined the solitary pleasure of reading a book with the joy of sharing, discussing, and debating it in a social setting.
September’s spotlight features Kathy of St. John’s, Newfoundland, whose group has the unusual name the We Don’t Bake Muffins Book Club. Read on to find out why!
What was the inspiration for starting your book club?
We have founding member Kelly White to thank for the birth of our book club in 2007. Kelly loves, loves, loves to read and had been part of a book club when she lived elsewhere. She suggested we start one of our own here in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Our first book was The Kite Runner, and I remember being struck by how many details I’d forgotten until we started to discuss the book. Even now I love those moments of “oh yeah, I completely forgot about that!”
We get many questions about our name, We Don’t Bake Muffins Book Club. We didn’t actually have a name until I did a website design course and needed a guinea pig. The website needed a name, fast. I had a flashback to a cab ride Kelly and I took to George Street one Friday night with a few girlfriends. The conversation turned to men and expectations. The taxi driver decided to throw his two cents in and one of us stated loudly and firmly, “but we don’t bake muffins!!!” There was a lot of laughing, I recall—most of it from the taxi driver who almost lost control of the car. I realize it’s one of those “you had to be there” kind of things, but it stuck.
Who are the members of your club? How did you come to know each other?
Our members are 10 of the smartest, most opinionated, interesting, passionate women you’ll ever meet. We are in our thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties. Some of us are wives and mothers, but most of us are not. We all have different professions, different experiences, and very different points of view. We came together as Kelly, Peggy, and I talked about our book club to whomever would listen, and we soon added an acquaintance here, a co-worker there and threw in a sibling or neighbour. In fact, two of our newest members came to us through our website and were strangers to us all. The mix has been absolute magic.
Do you have a unique way of preparing for a book club meeting?
For me, preparation involves a trip to the liquor store for a few bottles of red and white vino, and then to the grocery store in search of anything in a bag, box, or tray that can be opened moments before everyone arrives. (There was that time I tried to go all out with hot apple flips… let’s just say it didn’t end well.) Some of our other members spend much time and effort to provide homemade cheesecakes and dips, fish and brewis, or hot little pastry things—to them I bow. But without exception, the wine and snacks always rock!
Do you incorporate food, films, field trips, or other bonus features into your meetings?
We have a very imaginative group that always find a way to keep our meetings new and exciting. When we read Something Fierce, Peggy found a CBC interview with Carmen Aguirre. We watched the interview after we had discussed the book, which gave us a whole new perspective. In preparation for our Lolita discussion, Pam created a slideshow of media images featuring young girls, and we had to guess how old the models really were. Lady Chatterley’s Lover inspired a little game with a flipchart listing the book’s colourful euphemisms for the female body. The object was to translate them into modern slang. This might have been one of our loudest meetings (according to the neighbours and passersby!). Also, when we read The Curse of Flowervilla by Anastasia English, Kelly prepared a wonderful traditional Newfoundland meal of fish and brewis. We even held one of our meetings floating on foam noodles and holding a glass of wine in Toddy’s pool.
If you could invite any author (or even just any person) to join one of your meetings, who would it be and why?
Easy! The queen of the book clubs: Oprah, of course! Although I can’t guarantee she’d get a word in edgewise with this crowd.
We did have an author join one of our meetings, sort of. When we were reading Bullets, Butterflies, and Italy we sent author John Meyer a bunch of questions in advance of the meeting. He was so very generous and recorded a personal video for us and answered our questions. It’s worth your while to take a look at it on our Facebook page.
Of all the books your club has selected, which is your favourite?
My favorite would have to be The Best Laid Plans by Terry Fallis. This is an example of a book I would never have picked up on my own. (Political satire… even worse, Canadian political satire! Groan.) To my great surprise, this was a wonderful book. I loved the writing, the characters (Pete 1 and Pete 2), and the humour. I highly recommend this one. We played a little game figuring out what actors would play each character if it was made into a movie—it really should be!
To be featured in a future Book Club Spotlight, email email@example.com with a brief description of your club. We’ll be in touch if we’d like to spotlight you!