Tag: Kurt Vonnegut

Book Club

In college, my sorority sisters and I referred to an unsanctioned after party as a “book club”.

 

Now, it means something different to me. I have two dear friends who meet with me online once we all complete our latest reading. We talk for an hour (after a brief update about our lives) then choose what book we’d like to do next based off what we heard was good or one of us enjoyed recently. We usually start with “What did you think overall?” and end with “What did the author want us to get out of this?”

Author Ashley Crookham book club inspiration

 

I’ve heard others have larger groups, meet in person, require set times, or follow rules in order to choose the book. In comparison, our book club is relaxed and I feel good about what we have. Yes, sometimes our schedules don’t align quickly and I read many other things during the interim. I sit to chat and it’s a bit like being at the movie theater. So many previews have shown I have forgotten what movie I came to see.

 

Yet it’s worth it because the three of us each bring something to the table. We draw on experiences of volunteering, adoption, teaching in public schools, pregnancy, achieving a PhD, international research, divorce, moving around the country, marriage, family rifts, jail, vacations, home buying, and deaths in the family. We look at the books from a learning perspective, academic discernment, and with technical critique. We all love to read and have enough books in common to make comparisons.

 

We’ve been discussing books since 2011. We’ve read serious books, and seriously popular titles. Classics and new Goodreads suggested. Some include:

All Our Wrong Todays

Born a Crime

Flight Behavior

The Girl on the Train

Men We Reaped

No Impact Man

Slaughterhouse-Five

Turtles All the Way Down

World on Edge

 

I look forward to our chats, and hearing what the others say. This reminds me how many ways there are to interpret a book, and how a book is a different experience to us at different times in our lives. I am no longer a harsh book critic. Instead I look for what the book could be to someone as well as what is was to me when I chanced to read it.

 

What have your experiences been with a book club?

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One Year In Indy

Indiana is never a place I expected to live as an adult.

When I was a child, I found out my mother had attended Indiana University. I reached for my encyclopedia and looked up the state. There were pictures of Native Americans and a few paragraphs of demographics. I still wanted to follow in her footsteps and felt settled that I wouldn’t have to choose a college for myself until I learned that she attended higher learning at Indiana University in Pennsylvania. After that, I didn’t give the mid-west another thought.

Living here has been pretty comfortable. The similarities in commercial offerings are such that I forget I am actually 13 hours from my parents and no longer an hour from meeting friends halfway.

After my first year here, I can say I feel settled. I have a favorite coffee shop, diner, restaurant, park, and library location. In Summer we saw waterfalls and in Fall we went to a pumpkin patch. I’ve been to the zoo, children’s museum, and the Kurt Vonnegut library. We’ve made our way into the city a few times, including the observation deck above the Mayor’s office.

We own a house here, now. We are friends with our next store neighbors. The grocery store clerks all know I want paper bags.

Perhaps the highlight of the year has been attending Vonnegutfest and hearing John Green speak.

Shortridge High School students and the back of John Green’s head

 

 

 

 

 

 

The night began with High School students who attended Vonnegut’s High School (Shortridge) reading their winning essays and giving me hope for the future. A bonus was Calvin Fletcher’s offering their new cold brew flavor for free at the bar.

John Green speaking about writing in Indy and choosing to make it his home

John Green was introduced, then spoke for a half hour about writing in Indy, things he agreed with Vonnegut about, and how he’d like to see the world change. Never more have I wanted to settle down and make a stable community instead of searching for the next place.

my photo with one of Time’s top 100 most influential people in the world

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you visited Indy yet?

 

 

Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library

Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library front window
Kurt’s actual typewriter

I could not be so close to a museum for Kurt Vonnegut and not take a visit. In a college ethics class, I did my final project on his secular humanist beliefs. He is someone I would have been lucky to know. I read Slaughterhouse Five before the short trip into Indianapolis which I believe adds much to the understanding of the displays in his Memorial Library. To see his struggles as an author, successes in his dreams, personal challenges, and sparks of creativity in person were comforting and inspiring.

Author Ashley Crookham in the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library
replica of Kurt’s study

 

Have you visited any good museums dedicated to authors or writing?