October 23, 2009

Book Club

Last night was our first night of ladies only book club here in Cali. My friend Catie had the idea to start the book club based on a similar one she was part of when she worked in Guatemala for the past two years. Since English literature is rare in a Spanish speaking country, the book club does not operate like your typical book group. Instead of all reading the same book each month, we read books or magazines or whatever, then each month we bring those things to share with others.
I was so excited for book club all week and last night definitely lived up to my expectations! Since arriving here and doing the get-to-know-you dance with everyone in first initial weeks I have found it difficult to continue developing meaningful relationships outside of "Hi, how are you, how's your day going, etc." As teachers, we are all busy and we all like to discuss and think about our students...so a lot of the time we end up talking about our jobs. In most places you don't attempt to form strong friendships at work, and only at work, because that's basically a recipe for social disaster. However, here in Colombia I am friends with my colleagues and I want to be...but I want to build on those relationships.
In the context of a discussion about books a million different topics and emotions are discussed. You pose questions that you wouldn't normally ask in daily conversation. You discuss, debate and strive to understand others' opinions. In my past experience with a mother-daughter book club from home in Minnesota, book clubs provide a wonderful facet for deep relationship development.
So....back to the book club! I headed over to Catie's last night around 6 to help her finish getting ready and set up. She created a feast of delicious food including hummus, spinach dip, empanadas, chicken finger bites, veggies, taco dip, salsa.....mmmmmm it was SO SO SO GOOD!! We spent the first half hour just loving the spread she created for us! While discussing books I brought two books to share: Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri and The Last Summer of You & Me by Ann Brashares.

I just finished Unaccustomed Earth and LOVED IT. Such an amazing book! This book is a collection of short stories (about 40-50 pages each) about Indian immigrants to the United States. I found so many amazing insights in this book about the challenges and joys of moving to a new place, with new customs, new food and a new language. Also, the author does a fantastic job of defining and building the relationships between characters so you really get to know them quickly. While at times the stories were hard to read because of the connections I could make to relationships in my own life and people I am missing from back home, overall the book was an excellent read.

The Last Summer of You & Me is the book I read while traveling to Colombia, sitting in airports thinking about what in the world I was about to do with my life. I got this book from my friend Liz right before I left and I'm so glad she gave it to me! This is the same author who wrote the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, a book (and movie) I adore. In the mother-daughter book club I mentioned earlier we read those books and saw the movie together. Since there were four of us girls in the book club at the time we always felt a sort of identity with the four girls who are best friends in the movie. Anyway, in this book the author uses new characters and tells the story of two sisters who go to this island every summer with their family. This is the story of their last summer together on the island. I definitely recommend this book as the perfect beach read. :)
After everyone went around and shared their reading material from the past month we chose books from others that we wanted to read. I came home with a new travel book for Bogota, which is perfect because I'm addicted to maps and guide books in general. Also, we just booked another trip there for a long weekend in November! I also brought home the book Julie & Julia from Kelsi, and I can't wait to start reading it!!
After cleaning up from book club, Catie and I opened another bottle of wine and proceeded to talk until way too lat for a school night...so needless to say it's a pretty tame Friday night here in my apartment. I think I'm about 5 minutes from curling up with my new book. And probably ten from falling asleep! I have a lot to do tomorrow so I better get some sleep...
Goals for tomorrow:
  1. Locate awesome Halloween costume for costume party tomorrow night. (I NEED IDEAS!!)
  2. Yoga
  3. Grade quizzes.......gross.
  4. Make delicious chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast...it's been an embarrassingly long time since I last ate them.
  5. Book plane tickets for traveling during December & January
Happy Friday friends!

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