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Monday, October 11, 2010

Why am I in two book clubs?

When I was 16, my first job was in our local public library. It was about a half-mile bike ride from my parent’s house and the hours were flexible. I think my hourly wage was $1.60. (Yes, that was the hourly wage back in 1971.)

I’ve always had a love of books and reading, but with my work and family demands over the years, the only things I got to read were trade journals and magazines. I really missed reading for fun.

So, one Friday night I was at my temple and I was chatting with my friend Gayle. For some reason she got my attention when she started talking about the book she was reading for her book club. I asked: “How do you choose the books? How often do you meet? Who’s in the club?” I learned that her club was made up of about a dozen women from my synagogue and they met once a month.

Thankfully, they let me join, and it’s been one of my best experiences ever.

Since we meet once a month, I am “forced” to read a book every four weeks. (Thank goodness for long plane flights!) I’ve read books that I never would have read – “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” I’ve read books that I just couldn’t get into – “The Book Thief.” And I’ve read books that are now on my favorites list – “Not Me” and “The Art of Racing in the Rain.”

And, thanks to the book club, I have a new group of friends ranging in age from 38 to 88! Our monthly discussions are as diverse as our ages, and surprisingly, we talk about sex (Yes, 88-year-olds still talk about that!), secrets and our dreams.

With my travel schedule, you’d think one book club would be enough. Well, my good friend Betsy and her daughter Rachael are in a mother-daughter book club and they invited me and my 16-year-old daughter Sophia to join. I thought it would be a great way to spend quality time with my daughter in a non-threatening social environment. The girls choose the books and we meet every two months for dinner and discussion.

Well, I am here to say that it’s one of the best things we’ve ever done. OK – I will admit that the girls don’t always read the books (too much homework and poor planning). But the conversations between the mothers and daughters are incredible. In the 12 months since we’ve joined, we’ve shared stories of our first marriages, battles with cancer, our faith, drugs at school and more. It is a safe environment for all topics.

I’m so glad I made time to join this group. My only regret is that I didn’t know about the book club when they started it seven years ago when the girls were 10.

If you have children, I would seriously recommend you consider joining or starting a book club. It can create a common platform for sharing, which will come in handy as your kids get older.

And, be prepared for your child to tell you that they are NOT interested. Sophia was not thrilled with the idea and really didn’t want us to join, but I told her we would go once and try it out. She so enjoyed the girls in the group and the social aspect of it that she is now quite excited to participate and plan our meetings.

So, go find a book club to join! And happy reading!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Karen,
    I read your about book clubs and agree with you totally. I am also in two clubs.
    I’m writing to you as the author of a newly released novel entitled, Life, Death, and Doughnuts, which I think the members of your book club might enjoy. My book has been enjoyed by many book clubs in recent weeks. I have attended a few of these meetings and have called in by phone for others. Next week I’m off to LA from my home in Pennsylvania to visit three book clubs. I’ve found that many book club members seem to find chatting with the author to be a nice change of pace from their usual discussions. Life, Death, and Doughnuts tells the story of a fifty-year friendship between four women, all of whom become widowed over the course of the 50 years. It touches on universal themes, but with a Jewish sensibility and plenty of humor.

    The synopsis is as follows:
    It is 1944 and the Katharine Gibbs Secretarial School in New York City is teeming with women. Over doughnuts, Sarah, Mitzi, Ellie, and Iris form a quirky quartet of secretaries-to-be. What ensues is a lifelong friendship carried out primarily through monthly dinner parties composed of the four women and their tag-along husbands. Over a span of 50 years, children are born, hearts are broken, a president resigns, a war is lost, careers peak and crash, weight is gained and lost and gained again, and all the while food is burned, fondued, flambeed, whipped up, and brought in. Sadly, but not uncommonly, the husbands pass away one by one, revealing the unfortunate fact that most women outlive their mates. The girlfriends' individual responses to widowhood illustrate that "moving on" can have a host of meanings and that grief has no time frame. As the friends face down time, distance, and loss, each discovers that a 50-year friendship, a healthy dose of humor, and the occasional doughnut can trump whatever else life drops in your path.

    Now a little about me:
    I am the author of five previous books. I've been reviewed in all the major papers including Variety and The Washington Post. The Library Journal, in their review of my last book, Watsamatta U: A Get-a-Grip-Guide to Staying Sane Through Your Child's College Application Process, claimed that I am as funny, if not more so than Dave Barry. (And you have no idea how I hate this part of my job...I was taught as a child not to toot my own horn, but my publisher says I have to.) I've appeared on The Today Show, all the major news channels, and on too many radio shows to count. I'm also a playwright, and my plays have been produced around the country. I have a bachelor’s from Northwestern University and a master’s from Harvard. Feel free to Google me. I think you’ll find I’m highly credentialed.

    Life, Death, and Doughnuts is a funny, poignant, and truthful look at a phase of life that millions of women experience, and how, with the help of good friends, being alone doesn't have to mean being lonely. As the baby-boomers age there is going to be an ever-increasing number of widows among us. I hope they, and all my readers, will find humor and compassion in this book.

    The book can be purchased on,, ordered through any bookstore, or through my publisher's website

    I can be reached at Thanks so much,
    Karin Kasdin


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