Being a writer and a lover of books, I was excited to learn that there’s a book club that meets on a monthly basis at various times at all four branches of the Hernando County public libraries–West Hernando, Brooksville, Spring Hill, and East Hernando. The clubs have been in existence for twenty years and have loyal groups of members. They vote on the book selections for the year. The selections are rotated among the four clubs and members have a month to read the book and then discuss it at the next meeting.
Ten enthusiastic members attended the August 18th meeting to discuss “The Midnight Library” by British Author Matt Haig. This short, yet impactful book was a quick read and held my attention throughout. It tells of a thirty-something-year-old women, Nora Seed, who’s depressed about all the choices she’s made and finds her career and personal life going nowhere, so she decides to commit suicide. At the moment Nora makes that decision she is suddenly transported to a library and meets an old woman who had been her school librarian and had a big impact on her early life.
Mrs. Elm, the librarian, tells Nora that she can relive her past. She can make different decisions and see if she is able to find a life she’s happier with, so Nora embarks on a journey that takes her to several different scenarios. For example, in one life she becomes a rock star, in another an Olympic swimming champion and in another she’s a scientist and so forth, based on various decisions she has made.
The novel is an allegory about life and our regrets about our decisions. It touches on our curiosity about how things would have been different if only we had acted differently. It’s a case of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.”
There was a lively and interesting discussion about the novel at the book club meeting. We talked about our opinions of the book and our feelings about our own life and whether or not we had regrets. The group also got into a deep philosophical discussion about whether or not there are various planes of existence and parallel worlds.
The novel was filled with pithy sayings and quotations from people like Sylvia Plath and Bertrand Russell. Even though the author brings up some heavy topics, including suicide, the book is ultimately uplifting and easy to read. There is just enough humor in it to keep it fun and interesting as well.
The selection for next month’s West Hernando book club meeting is a novel entitled “West with Giraffes” by Lynda Rutledge. The title, alone, piques your interest. It’s based on an actual event that took place in 1938 in which two giraffes being transported to a zoo in the United States were rescued from a ship that sank in a hurricane. The bulk of the story tells of their odyssey across the country with a young man who decides to take them to their final destination in California. It promises to be a humorous read and an insight into that time period.
I’ve only read the first few pages, but the novel immediately caught my interest because there’s a little bit of fantasy thrown in. The story is narrated by a 109-year-old man writing in the year 2025 when giraffes and many other animals are on the verge of extinction. Think “Little Big Man” meets “The Life of Pi.”
Anyone interested in joining any of the book clubs and getting in on next month’s discussion can obtain the book from the library. The West Hernando group meets the third Thursday of the month at 2 pm. For more information on all the book clubs call 352-754-4043.