>Here’s what’s ridiculous: Naked Without Books! is a book blog, and I belong to a book group and I hardly ever blog about BOOKLEAVES! Who turned out the lights? I resolve to do much better in this regard.
BOOKLEAVES has been in existence since 2005. Veronica finally got it off the ground after pining away for years and years, longing for a book group in Korea, and persevering like mad. You can read the whole inspiring story here.
I don’t know who decided on the location, but the decision smacks of genius. We meet at a coffee shop in Gangnam called “Angel-In-Us” on the first floor of the Kyobo building. The beauty part is that a bookstore with a very nice English language section is housed on the ground floor of this very same building! It makes for a very nice meeting: We talk about the book, discuss what we’re going to read next time, talk about various other things, (like how brunch has finally caught on with the Koreans and how there’s all these really great new restaurants specializing in brunch opening up in Seoul!) then wander downstairs and check out what’s new.
At this last meeting, we discussed The Master And Margarita by Mikhail Bolgakov. Russian magical realism. A retelling of Faust, Satan visits (then) modern-day Moscow. The novel was published in 1966, 26 years after Bolgakov’s death. It was always available underground, but for obvious reasons, it wasn’t on Stalin’s favorites list. The Master And Margarita is considered one of the greatest novels of the 20th century. I’m still reading it since I didn’t get my copy until shortly before the meeting on Sunday. Since Bolgakov was also a playwright (as BOOKLEAVES member Karen helpfully pointed out) each chapter reads like a scene, but the writing is beautiful; there’s no staginess.
After the meeting, Liz, Karen and Catherine took off, and Veronica, Aaron and I headed down to the bookstore. That Aaron is one sick puppy. I say this with the greatest respect and admiration, of course. Before the meeting, he’d been downstairs and bought 4 or 5 books. After the meeting, he went back and bought 4 or 5 more! At this point, I’d list titles, but I’m having a little problem remembering everything he bought. [Aaaaghhh! Memory loss! That 46th birthday is rapidly approaching — I can feel its fetid breath upon me.] Aaron’s going through a rough patch right now, and is drowning his troubles in books. Gotta love him. He’s a fine example of a young male in the throes of bibliomania unleashed. I can’t compete. He makes me look like a mere pretender to the shelves.
Veronica was no slouch either, when it came to buying books. She’s in the midst of hunting, gathering and reading the James Patterson series with numbers in the title. I think she bought a biography of Audrey Hepburn, too. Did I say she’s also generous? She loaned me her copy of Book Lust by Nancy Pearl, which I’m reading with a pen and notebook at the ready, to write down Pearl’s recommendations.
I went downstairs to pick up a copy of Water For Elephants, which we’re reading for the January 6 meeting, but guess what? Aaron had bought the last copy before the meeting! Of course, there was nothing to do but meander over to the biography/memoir section, right? Although I had sworn to leave off buying anything more in this genre, I was weak. I bought Mockingbird (the biography of Harper Lee) and Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.
The next meeting is December 9, and we’re discussing A Thousand Splendid Suns. I’ve seen many favorable reviews of this novel on the various blogs I read, but I’ve avoided reading them in detail so I can avoid a “too-much-hype” letdown. I’m very much looking forward to this novel.
So that’s a day in the life of my wonderful book group! Aren’t I lucky to have found them?