Book club looks back on a lot of titles over 10 years of reading

The 07052 Book Club took a field trip to The Met Cloisters after they read ‘The Cloisters,’ by Katy Hays. From left are Rosemary Rich, Jean Goldstein, Soma Sinha, Candy Fleming and Susan FitzGibbon. Not pictured is Debbie Handsman.

By Susan FitzGibbon

There’s “An Invisible Thread” that holds “My Brilliant Friend(s)” together in our West Orange book group.

“One Summer (in) America,” quite a few years ago but not as long ago as 1927 nor even “1984”, we “(The) Forgot(ten) our Garden(s)” and joined together as a club to be “The Interesting(s)” “(The) Group” of “Unorthodox” women from 07052.

That thread, that “Signature of All Things” for this group, is our appreciation and love of books and literature. Hardly a group of “Stoner(s),” we are a united “Sisterland,” and every six or seven weeks, we put aside our personal “Pride and Prejudice” to discuss our literary selection, attempting to find “All the Light We Cannot See” in the pages of books.

We take time today, after 10 trips of “Circling the Sun” as a book club, to acknowledge an event almost as rare as “The Transit of Venus.” “Our Unquiet Mind(s)” have reached a centennial of volumes read together. That’s more, not “Less”, than (The) “Other Americans” in our “Odyssey” to find a “There There.” We are clearly a group of committed readers, and the six of us are not “(The) Leavers.”

“Lucky Us,” to come together during “The Velvet Hours” on weekday evenings after our workdays are done, sometimes content to simply “Let the Great World Spin” while we gather in each other’s comfortable living rooms for an evening of chat, wine, and snacks.

We don’t move “Heaven and Earth” to outdo each other with a tempting “Moveable Feast” at our meetings; sometimes a quick run to the “Grocery Store” for multiple flavors of Häagen-Dazs is the best treat of all. We are all good friends now, and there’s no need to sign “The Guest Book” at each other’s house.

It may not have been “The Master” plan, but we are “Becoming” closer and closer after so many years of book club meetings, with occasional dinners or field trips to places like “The Cloisters” that bring us closer together.

Perhaps our book club bond is as rare as a “White Tiger!”

We never have to “Tinker(s)” with the format of our meetings. Long before a scholarly discussion of the chosen book begins, our travel-loving group often starts by asking,
“Where Did You Go?” (Bernadette) at each meeting because one of us has always traveled somewhere, eager to visit “The Distant Marvels” of the world.

“Behold,” we are a group of “(The) Dreamers,” sometimes visiting faraway lands we’ve read about and sometimes hoping a spot in our own backyard will be as enjoyable as “Tom Lake.”

We are not in danger of witnessing “The Disappearing Earth.” There will always be inviting places to visit and “All the Pretty Horses,” mountains, and beaches to see.

Debbie is often in Michigan but also enjoys the Commonwealth of Virginia. Always “The Optimist(‘s),” Jean often visits her “Daughter(s)” in New York.

For me, a book can be the root of (my) “Longings.” Over spring break, I was “The Girl on the Train,” traveling on Great Western Rail from London to Padstow, heading to the cliffs and moors of Cornwall, England that I had first enjoyed in the epic stories of Rosamunde Pilcher.

Another time while staying at a fancy resort in West Virginia, I eagerly joined a falconry class, already armed with the basics from “H is for Hawk.” Unfortunately, because of “The Fates and Furies” of the world’s current political situation, none of us is likely to meet “The Gentleman of Moscow,” despite his ranking among the favorites on our shared list.

“Still Life” in West Orange is good, and each of us leaves on our trips “With Bread Crumbs” to ensure our safe return home.

We have a (The) “Covenant” among ourselves, not of “Water,” but as a group of (The) “Great Believers” in the power of literature. We trust in “The Promise” of authors to reveal truths to us. Once we are done socializing, our book discussions can be “Wild,” but some of us remain quiet, Becoming “The Vanishing Half,” while others March forward, spouting opinions freely (“Don’t Look at Me Like That”) as if playing the part of “Everybody’s Fool.” Sometimes “We Are Not Ourselves” when we empathize with characters, putting ourselves in their shoes and listening to each other reveal “Everything I Never Told You.”

We take on the role of (The) “Grammarians” as we pick apart writing. Occasionally, it’s as if we are “The Art Forgers,” consulting “The Dictionary of Lost Words” to substitute our own preferences for what the authors gave us.

We usually bid each other farewell sometime close to “The Ninth Hour,” always “Me Before You,” because I must get my sleep on a school night; I’m not one to investigate “The Midnight Library.” I hope that “After I’m Gone,” the conversation concludes, and I’m thought of as someone who knows “How To Be An Antiracist” or even as “The Immortal Irish(wo)man.”

Perhaps some of you worry about me “Crossing to Safety” as I walk across Northfield Avenue which can be as busy as “Main Street” at rush hour. Maybe you’re concerned that “Only Killers and Thieves” might be following in my “Dead Wake.”

No worries – not easily “Spook”(ed), I climb the hill of my street – the equivalent of “Three Floors Up” – and allow “The Pull of the Stars” to help me swiftly pass “The Dutch House” and “The Turner House.” I always make it home to bask in “The Warmth of Other Suns” when I awaken “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow.”

Susan FitzGibbon is a longtime resident of West Orange and an avid reader who enjoys her 07052 book club friends. The club has 6 members and they have been meeting for 10 years.

The list of book titles read by The 07052 Book Club to date:
“Caleb’s Crossing” – Geraldine Brooks Wild – Cheryl Strayed
“The Forgotten Garden” – Kate Morton
“The Warmth of Other Suns” – Isabel Wilkerson
“The Art Forger” – B A Shapiro
“The Interestings” – Meg Wolitzer
“The Group” – Mary McCarthy
“Unorthodox” – Deborah Feldman
“Pride and Prejudice” – Jane Austen
“Let the Great World Spin” – Colum McCann
“Me Before You” – Jojo Moyes
“One Summer: America 1927” – Bill Bryson
“Where’d You Go, Bernadette?” – Maria Semple
“Sisterland” – Curtis Sittenfeld
“An Officer and a Spy” – Robert Harris
“After I’m Gone” – Laura Lippmann
“All the Light We Cannot See” – Anthony Doerr
“The Signature of All Things” – Elizabeth Gilbert
“Lucky Us” – Amy Bloom
“Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker” – Jennifer Chiaverini
“Orhan’s Inheritance” – Aline Ohanesian
“A God in Ruins” – Kate Atkinson
“Everything I Never Told You” – Celeste Ng
“My Brilliant Friend” – Elena Ferrante
“Stoner” – John Williams
“Circling the Sun” – Paula McLain
“Dead Wake” – Erik Larson
“March” – Geraldine Brooks
“Everybody’s Fool” – Richard Russo
“Fates and Furies” – Lauren Groff
“Spook” – Mary Roach
“Commonwealth” – Ann Patchett
“An Unquiet Mind” – Kay Redfield Jamison
“1984” – George Orwell
“The Velvet Hours” – Allyson Richman
“Hillbilly Elegy” – J.D. Vance
“A Gentleman in Moscow” – Amor Towles
“Miller’s Valley” – Anna Quindlen
“We Are Not Ourselves” – Matthew Thomas
“An Invisible Thread” – Laura Schroff
“Girl On the Train” – Paula Hawkins
“Still Life with Bread Crumbs” – Anna Quindlen
“H is For Hawk” – Helen Macdonald
“The Excellent Lombards” – Jane Hamilton
“My Name is Lucy Barton” – Elizabeth Strout
The Ninth Hour – Alice McDermott
The Distant Marvels – Chantel Acevedo
“The Turner House” – Alice Flountroy
“The Transit of Venus” – Shirley Hazzard
“Only Killers and Thieves” – Paul Howarth
“Less” – Andrew Sean Greer
“An Odyssey” – Daniel Mendelsohn
“There There” – Tommy Orange
“Ordinary Grace” – William Kent Krueger
“Bridge of Clay” – Markus Zuzak
“The White Tiger” – Aravind Adiga
“Becoming” – Michelle Obama
“The Immortal Irishman” – Timothy Egan
“The Alice Network” – Kate Quinn
“The Other Americans” – Laila Lalami
“The Dutch House” – Ann Patchett
“The Grammarians” – Cathleen Schine
“Disappearing Earth” – Julia Phillips
“Three Floors Up” – Eshkol Nevo
“The Guest Book” – Sarah Blake
“The Glass Hotel” – Emily St. John Mandel
“How to be an Antiracist” – Ibram Kendi
“Crossing to Safety” – Wallace Stegner
“The Second Mrs. Hockaday” – Susan Rivers
“The Pull of the Stars” – Emma Donoghue
“The Vanishing Half” – Brit Bennett
“The Midnight Library” – Matt Haig
“After I’m Gone” – Laura Lipman
“Remains of the Day” – Kazuo Ishiguro
“The Engineer’s Wife” – Tracey Enerson Wood
“A Moveable Feast” – Ernest Hemingway
“The Hand That First Held Mine” – Maggie O’Farrell
“The Book of Longings” – Sue Monk Kidd
“Tinkers” – Paul Harding
“The Leavers” – Lisa Ko –
“The Master” – Colm Tóibín
“The Lincoln Highway – Amor Towles
“Main Street” – Sinclair Lewis
“The Promise” – Damon Galgut
“The Optimist’s Daughter” by Eudora Welty
“Behold the Dreamers” – Imbolo Mbue
“Dictionary of Lost Words” – Pip Williams
“Firekeeper’s Daughter”- Angelene Boulley
“Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow” – Gabriella Zevin
“The Cloisters” – Katy Hays
“Happening” – Annie Ernaux
“The Maltese Falcon” – Dashiell Hammet
“The Great Believers” – Rebecca Makkai
“Demon Copperhead” – Barbara Kingsolver
“The Covenant of Water” – Abraham Verghese
“Tom Lake” – Ann Patchett
“Don’t Look at me Like That” – Diana Athill
“The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store” – James McBride
“All the Pretty Horses” – Cormac McCarthy
“The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry” – Rachel Joyce