“On the same page” is a series featuring Utah book clubs that runs every other week. Editor's note: If you have a book club and you are interested in being featured, please contact us at email@example.com. Please include your name, your contact information and one or two sentences describing your book club.
SALT LAKE CITY — Lisa Adams just wanted to talk about something besides diapers. Ever since her friends had gotten married, it seemed like the only thing they discussed anymore. And when the subject turned to who Adams was dating — well, she wasn’t too thrilled about that, either.
“I thought, ‘I want to see my friends, but I don’t want these conversations, so let’s get together and talk about books,′” Adams told the Deseret News.
Her friends were game. Calling themselves the “unofficial” Chi Omega Book Club after a University of Utah sorority, which Adams and many of her friends were a part of, they began having monthly meetings. Now, 35 years, 26 members and 350 novels later, they still get together to discuss their love of books.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Deseret News: What have you learned or gained from being involved in this book group?
Lisa Adams: These are the people I know I can count on for anything. Outside of my family circle, these are the people who are there for me and we laugh together, we cry together. I know it sounds trite, but that’s really true. … I think we had a great friendship when we were in college, and we’re sorority sisters, the majority of us … but I feel like because we see each other every single month, we know what is happening with each other’s kids and each other’s lives, and there is just a depth of friendship there that has solidified over the years. I think it’s the regularity, and it’s sharing a common love for something, and that’s reading.
DN: If you were standing in the middle of a bookstore, how do you choose which book to pick up?
LA: Usually I don’t just stand in the middle of a bookstore. I usually do research, because I have a sister who owns hundreds of pairs of shoes and I own scores of books. They’re my weakness.
So, it’s hard, but usually if there’s an author I like, then I’ll take a look at it and I will turn over and read a little bit about it. I also go a lot by when they’ve done a book review on NPR … The King’s English is one of my favorite bookstores and I know the booksellers there who like books that I like, so I’ll ask them, “What have you read lately, what is really a must read that I shouldn’t miss?” And I trust them. And I also like to go to Frost Books because Richard Frost is really helpful, so we really try hard to support local booksellers. I’m always saying, “Please, please have this book. Don’t make me go to Costco or Barnes and Noble.”
DN: Which author, dead or alive, would you most want to attend your group and why?
LA: If I’m picking an author of fiction, even though she (was) notoriously shy and she (would have) never in a million years come, Harper Lee, because "To Kill a Mockingbird" is one of my all time favorite books and we’ve read it twice in this book club. … And if I were picking a nonfiction, I’d probably say David McCullough.
DN: What are some of the highlights you’ve experienced as a book club?
LA: We have the best Christmas parties in the world. It’s like the one Christmas party you never want to miss. One year we did “The Polar Express” and everyone came in their pajamas and it didn’t start until late. We had two people dressed like chefs and they served hot chocolate and we stayed really late. And then we went home and came back in the morning for breakfast, and it was very fun. And one year we did a cowboy party that was all Western stuff and we had cowboy poetry and that was really tons of fun.
DN: What is your favorite stage or screen adaptation of a book?
LA: Our book club read "Wonder" a few years ago, and we just loved, loved, loved that because we have one book club member who has a grandchild who has what Auggie in that book has, which is called Treacher Collins. And when we reviewed it, her daughter-in-law brought this little boy, who was then 10 months old, to the book review and told us about what it was like to have a child that had this, and how "Wonder" had been a great book for her but also made her just have her heart sink a little bit about thinking of sending him off to school … all of us thought that the movie adaptation was well done.
The Chi Omega Book Club recommends:
“Crossing to Safety” by Wallace Stegner, Penguin Random House, 368 pages (f)
“The Help” by Kathryn Stockett, Penguin Random House, 544 pages (f)
“The Road to Character” by David Brooks, Penguin Random House, 320 pages (nf)
“Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, Penguin Random House, 480 pages (f)
“The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah, Macmillan Publishers, 608 pages (f)
“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, Harper Perennial, 336 pages (f)
“Wonder” by R.J. Palacio, Penguin Random House, 320 pages (f)
“Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell, Little, Brown and Company, 320 pages (nf)