Tag Archives: book club

For Narnia

I recently finished reading the Narnia Chronicles. Confession: I often imply to people that I have read these books before, “when I was younger.” False. I think at some point my dad started reading them to me, but I don’t think we made it past The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. And I’m pretty sure we skipped The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, because I complained that I had seen the movie so many times.

It’s not like I didn’t like the movie. But you know how it is when you’re a kid and you have those movies that you’ve seen so many times you know every single inflection of dialogue, and you don’t remember not knowing them.

Which means we read Prince Caspian and Dawn Treader.

While implying to people, “I read those when I was younger,” I also implied, “I don’t really care for them.” But it’s not like I could explain why.

And now, I’m ashamed. Because as I started reading (and then devouring) them, I have come to the realization that I either didn’t ever read these books, or I fell asleep as soon as my dad started reading, or I was just flat out not paying attention. I don’t remember a single thing – which I assumed I would: distantly, from 20+ years ago. I don’t remember these characters or themes or conflict.

And I found them really compelling and interesting, not only for everything they symbolize but also for the actual stories themselves. They’re fun to read, they’re super quick but they’re not fluffy. I actually really like the Christian symbolism in the book. And as soon as I finished reading, I jumped over to the internet to read Neil Gaiman’s story, “The Problem of Susan.”

The books belong to Drew – he has had this particular box set since he was 10 years old, and it’s moved with us several times over the past years. But I’ve always just stuck it on the top shelf with his historical biographies and ignored it.

Then, for my book club, a friend picked The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – and as a companion, a book called The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia, by Laura Miller. Miller talks about more than just LWW and it made me really curious about them. At the same time, I wished that my book club had just elected to read the entirety of the Narnia Chronicles, since it’s only about 1500 pages total. We’ve tackled worse.

So I decided that I would read them all on my own – partly so I could hold my own in conversation with four other people who, I’m sure, have all read the Chronicles multiple times. And partly because I wasn’t in love with Miller’s book, and I wanted to supplement this month’s book choice.

So now I’m a little obsessed. I tore through the books. And yet, hearing from others how their experiences changed between reading the Chronicles as a kid, and reading them as an adult, maybe I’m glad I’m just getting around to them now. There’s nothing for them to live up to, and I can’t be let down by any childhood heroes. And I can fully enjoy the religion of the books without feeling like I got tricked into it.

At least now I get why my dad wanted to read them to me. Because they are awesome. I will totally read them to my kid some day.



Filed under Books, Children, Memoir, Nonfiction, Parents

Tea Weekend

I had a lot of tea this weekend.

On Saturday morning Erin, Sam, Lysandra, Robert, and I had our monthly book club at Lovejoy’s in San Francisco. Lovejoy’s is Erin’s happy place, and if you give her a chance to choose a “special occasion” place, this will be it.

I had some delicous vanilla rooibos, and a sandwich plate. Half cucumber and dill, half tomato and cheese. They were both good, but now I can’t stop making tomato and cheese sandwiches at home.

The book club conversation was sparkling as usual. It wasn’t all about the book (it never is), but it covered all kinds of topics about women’s rights and parenting. (It was more fun than I just made it sound.)

Then for Mother’s Day I drove up to Lakeport and took my mom out for a “high tea.” I use the quotes because I know technically high tea isn’t the right word for the spread we had.

“High tea” is traditionally served after 5 pm to the working class, and made up of meat dishes and other heavy foods. It was more of a family meal. The ladies’ social occasion that Americans think of is called “afternoon tea” or “low tea” (it is traditionally served on low tables). The more you know!

So, a Mother’s Day afternoon tea, then. We had several types of sandwiches, and several types of sweets, and by the end of the meal I was several types of stuffed, which is silly, since everything is so tiny. But I mean, you’re also drinking pots of tea, which probably fills you up.

Both teas were fun and cute (is cute the wrong word?), although the Mother’s Day tea was slightly classier, since at Lovejoy’s we were having an intense conversation about all types of things that we had to come up with acronyms for so that the fancy ladies around us weren’t shocked. A good weekend!

I was going to say I probably don’t need any tea for awhile, but then I realized I’m drinking iced tea right now.

Oh also – I hope the color change of sychela.com (if you noticed it) didn’t freak you out. It’s something I’ve been debating for awhile, and finally took the plunge.

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Filed under Awesome, Being a girl, Family, Food, Friends, Travel

Book Club

I have this kind of bossy friend. And she has taken it upon herself to organize a book club among several people in the Bay Area, who haven’t managed to get it together amongst ourselves. There are five of us – four girls and one guy.

 (I was going to write “women and man,” but that felt really weird, so I changed it back. “Girls and guy” feels okay – although it’s more awkward written out than it would be if I just said it. I always wonder what to say. “Chicks and dude.” “Ladies and gent.” I don’t know.)

Four of us are XX and one is XY. We live all up and down the peninsula. We are all busy enough that we needed this one kind of bossy friend to make us all commit to doing this thing.

The rules are: we trade off choosing books, and you have to choose something that no one has read yet.

Our first book is Divergent by Veronica Roth – a young adult book along the same dystopian themes as Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. (Speaking of The Hunger Games, have you seen the trailer yet?? The movie comes out in March and my coworkers and I can’t wait!) Divergent is about a society in which everyone is divided into factions: Amity (the peaceful), Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Erudite (the intelligent), and Dauntless (the brave). You choose your faction when you’re 16 and factions are stronger than blood. If you fall out of a faction (the factionless), you’re essentially homeless and you have very little food and clothing and you have a sucky job.

I do think she is sort of jumping on the Hunger Games bandwagon – but better that than the Twilight bandwagon, amirite?

I haven’t had much time to read yet – but so far I really, really like it. I think it’s going to make for some very interesting conversation when we finally get it together and all five of us sit down and talk about our feelings. I’ve been trying to figure out what faction I would choose, and I currently have no idea. I mean, I’m only 125 pages in (out of almost 500). It makes the main character very sympathetic.

I’m pretty stoked about having a book club. I have been wanting to have one – but not wanting necessarily to join someone else’s and abide by their rules and choices. The kind of bossy leader of our club says that it’s my turn to choose next. I’m debating between Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer and Augusten Burroughs’ Possible Side Effects or something completely different.

I’m open to suggestions – although I think Augusten Burroughs would be really fun for everyone. Book club ftw!

(Sorry, you-know-who, I kid. Your bossyness is great! Love you!)


Filed under Beginnings, Being a girl, Books, Friends, Self improvement