By David Nilsen
I recently had the privilege of sitting down with Melinda Guerra, the leader of a new book club at Greenville Public Library, to ask her some questions about the club. Melinda also happens to be my wife, so finding a place to meet wasn’t too difficult.
David: Hello. Thanks for joining me at the kitchen table this evening. I understand you’re starting a book club / baking group?
Melinda: Thanks for inviting me to your kitchen table. I am, in fact, starting a book club that is expressly *not* a baking group. I think the baking group book club meets Tuesdays down the street; there’s an ancient rule about each town being limited to only one of those. My book club is not the kind that’s really a baking group, wine group, knitting group, or complain-about-our-neighbors/partners/children/lack-of-any-of-the-above group. It’s the other kind.
David: The other kind? I don’t know the other kind. Tell me what this group will be like.
Melinda: Oh… the kind where we read books. And talk about them. It’s a great idea, really–getting together a group of bookish people who read the same book and then hang out to talk about the book. The idea is that all the people who want the other kinds of book clubs have so many to choose from; this one is for the small demographic who wants a book club that talks about its books.
David: What is the name of this revolutionary new book club?
Melinda: Bookish. Which seemed to fit well, since that’s the kind of people we’re hoping will join.
David: What were your top three rejected names for the group?
Melinda: Anti-Social People Reading. Just Books. We’re Really Actually A Book Club of People Who Want to Read and Actually Discuss Books. Obviously, they were rejected for different reasons.
David: How often will the group meet and where?
Melinda: We’ll meet once a month in downtown Greenville. Our first meeting is Monday, August 17th at the library, but once we have our set group, we may move to a secret location to hide from anyone who sneaks in wanting to talk to us for 20 minutes about how cute their children/grandchildren/cats are.
David: Is there a dresscode?
Melinda: Nah. Tattoos, kilts, piercings, and even mom jeans are welcomed. Aprons too, as long as you don’t try to cook while we’re meeting.
David: What baked goods will you be making for the group?
Melinda: I will make no baked goods for the group, but won’t stop someone from bringing some as long as they’re not super healthy. There will be some non-baked snacks provided, but I don’t advertise specific food for events because you never can tell who will show up just to be a loud eater, completely oblivious to the rest of the group.
David: So you chose The Help as the first book, right? How closely did it beat out Water for Elephants?
Melinda: Curiously, neither of those made the top 1,862 books I brainstormed for my initial list. Our first book is Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Our second will be The Only Ones by Carola Dibbell. I’ve got several ideas for what happens after that, but the group will make the final decision. I don’t think we’ll be able to fit in either of your options any time soon.
David: I thought there was a book club law about The Help. Are these things not regulated?
Melinda: That’s the book club/ baking group law. We don’t fall under that one, thankfully.
David: Huh. Tell me a little about Everything I Never Told You.
Melinda: Well, it starts with Lydia being dead.
David: That’s a good place to start.
Melinda: We pick up from there, through the eyes of each of her parents and her brother and sister; within that, there’s a lot about family, culture, disappointment, home, marriage, parents, children, resentment, and secrets. It’s a book that many people can relate to, if they want to get at the insecurities and fears and the way our pasts shape us even without our realizing it. Also, it’s set in Ohio. Like the book club.
David: Sounds good. When will Bookish be getting to Fifty Shades of Grey?
Melinda: Sometime after I step back from Bookish, but definitely not before then. It might be a while; if you need it soon, you may want to start your own book club.
David: How do people get involved with Bookish?
Melinda: We’ve got a cap on the number of people who can participate, so they should email me at gplbookclub at gmail dot com to reserve their space, and let me know if they’d like to reserve a copy of the book (the library has 6 copies) or purchase a copy of their own (I’ve got info on nearby bookstores who keep the book in stock, for the anti-Amazon-ers out there).
David: Is your husband as devilishly handsome as they say?
Melinda: Oh, your readers will be interested to know that he definitely is.
David: What color are his eyes? Is it true they smolder? I’ve heard they smolder.
Melinda: They’re green, it’s been decided. But they’ve got these flecks and shades and things. Definitely mostly green. And if you can catch him at the right moment, they smolder. They do all kinds of things. They’re great, really.
David: Well, Bookish sounds like a lot of fun. Anything else you want to tell our readers before we go?
Melinda: Because two books are already spoken for, only the next four people to email me to reserve their library copy of the book get one. Also, my handsome and bookish husband won’t be at the meetings and – due to Bookish regulations – I won’t be showing photos of him during the meeting. Just feel like I should clear that up so no one gets the wrong impression.
So there you have it. No pictures of children, no self-congratulatory insights from The Help, and yes, the leader’s husband is devilishly handsome. If you’re the Bookish type, be sure to contact Melinda at the email listed above to reserve your copy of Everything I Never Told You.