Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Sunday Soup Book Group - 98 Books and Counting!

This summer we began what we hoped  would become a series of articles on local book clubs.  Here is our second entry. Please consider sharing stories about your book club by adding a comment to this article or by emailing us at

"I wanted to join this one (and waited over a year for an opening) because a member told me that everyone religiously read the book, they always picked paperbacks, and that no one made a huge fuss over the food!" With a recommendation like this one, who wouldn't want to belong to the Sunday Soup Book Group?

It all started 10 years ago with Caucasia by Danzy Senna, and the group has been going strong ever since. In fact, several of the original members continue to participate. There are 10 members, all women, of whom 6 live in Cambridge.

The group usually meets monthly for a light dinner on a Sunday evening. The menu often is soup and salad (thus the name), and usually the hostess manages to create a meal that reflects the book’s milieu in some way. When the group read Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors by Lizzie Collingham, the hostess  made tikka masala, bengal potatoes, baighan burtha, Eastern Indian green beans, basmati rice, nan and papadums. It was a veritable feast that some considered to be better than the book!

Book discussion takes place at the dinner table. No one leads or records the discussion. If the book hasn't struck many members’ interest the book discussion is relatively brief, but sometimes it absorbs the entire evening. This year, the discussion of Patti Smith’s Just Kids was a book that got everyone talking. One member, who says that she is usually into fiction, chose Just Kids as an all-time favorite. She says, "I was living in NYC at exactly the same time as Smith. Our lives never collided, even though we were of a similar age. Just to be transported back to that place and time was fascinating, precisely because we were so very different."

After the discussion of the current book, the group takes nominations for the next book. One member keeps a list of books previously read, and the group reviews recent nominations, adds additional titles, and comes to a consensus. Members consider:
  • whether the nominated book is available in paperback.
  • whether there are plentiful copies in the library (Thank goodness for smartphones!)
  • the length.
  • possible local interest.
  • how the book contributes to the mix, ensuring that non-fiction and classic fiction have a regular spot.
Their last book was Summer by Edith Wharton, and in December the group will be discussing their 98th book, Julia Glass's, The Widower's Tale.

You can find all of the books listed above at our Cambridge Public Libraries.
There are always great things happening at the library! For more information on how you can get involved with the Friends of the Cambridge Public Library click here.

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