My second book club is a younger crowd, comprised mostly of fellow alumni from my grad program and their friends. The graduate program which we all attended was writing-related, so despite their tender years, the women in Book Club #2 can be scarily smart and insightful, especially concerning the written word. We tend to meet at restaurants or cafes. I think the email list includes ten people, but the number that shows up for any one meeting is smaller and rotates. While I’m one of the youngest members of my first book club, here I’m at the other end of the spectrum. Last weekend, over half of our six attendees were in their early to mid-twenties.
Book Club #2 converged at Yellow Vase, a café in Redondo Beach, that, in addition to coffee, sells upscale cookies, cakes, and French macaroons in five flavors. Apparently I’ve been behind the trends, because B— had to explain to me that French macarons are not made with coconut. They are two little cakes with a cream filling between them, “they are delicious,” and they are poised to replace cupcakes in terms of public adoration. I looked closely at her macaron. If I had to describe it without the aid of a photo, I might say it looked like a miniature Little Debbie Creme with a coating of pastel frosting.
But that would be sacrilegious, considering the great enthusiasm my companions expressed for these delicacies, and also, I don’t have to, since the Wall Street journal took lovely photos to go along with this article.
(The article doesn’t mention that they also now sell macarons at Trader Joe’s so if you don’t have a cute macaron-selling café in your neighborhood, you can pick some up from the frozen food section and tell me what you think. Are they amazing and I am just missing it?)
After we were settled with our tea, macarons and such, we discussed the book, Shanghai Girls by Lisa See, about two sisters in the late 1930’s who are forced to leave Shanghai when their father pays off his debts by marrying them off to sons of a businessman who has emigrated to California.
I enjoyed the easy-to-digest history (which I seem to have missed in my official schooling) and thought the prose and characterizations were smooth. N—, who has traveled to China several times, and lived there for a year, also enjoyed the book. S— and B— did not like this book. They did not like it to such an extent that it was hard to remember that just moments before they had been pleased over macarons. Once they pointed out the story’s various flaws, I had to recognize their complaints as valid. Fortunately I had already read and enjoyed the book. It’s like when I find a take-away container in the fridge and eat some yummy pad-thai only to have my husband tell me it’s been in there for two weeks. If I already ate it and didn’t get sick, who’s the winner? Me.
Unlike Book Club #1’s rather free-for-all book selection process, Book Club #2 has a more regimented procedure, involving an assigned “host” for the future meeting who presents three books from which the group can select. E—, a high school friend of N—’s, did an exemplary job of researching and presenting, and after the vote, our choice was The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. I read it in two sittings and loved it. I’m going to recommend highly that you read it now, before I hear what the critics at my book club have to say.