I am currently in two book clubs, and each club is comprised of ‘moms’ that I have met in different schoolyards. One group is a bit older, parents of children in their early twenties. For me, it’s a great way to stay in touch with old friends.

Because I am sufficiently disorganized to also have a daughter in elementary school, the other book club is comprised of younger moms. The ‘young moms’ book club has been a great place for me to meet new people and share intell (gossip?) about the school. And of course read and discuss books. Sheesh.

I hosted a book club last night for the later group, which can sometimes be more like a ‘super club’ than a book club. The host makes dinner and at times, significant amounts of wine are consumed. However, yesterday was a January Monday night, and I’m not sure if it’s related, but the wine consumption was unusually modest while the book discussion was unusually robust.

Aided and abatted by the extreme cold weather of the past weekend, I was happy to spend a good chunk of Sunday cooking up ‘make ahead,’ braising types of food for Monday. However, my favourite part of the dinner, as seconded by everyone, was the fresh Barefoot Contessa Greek Panzanella bread salad. I could literally eat that salad everyday.

The host gets to choose the book and I selected Brother by David Chariandy, which came highly recommended. When one of the most dedicated members messaged me ahead of time to say that she could not get through the book, I was a bit worried about the others finishing.

I absolutely support not finishing a book. I love that there’s a DNF folder on Goodreads. There are so many amazing books out there, and sometimes you just need to say ‘uncle,’ if a book doesn’t grab you. And I am extremely embarrassed to admit that while I loved The Rules of Civility, I have tried twice, unsuccessfully to read the highly rated and reviewed, A Gentleman in Moscow.

Unfortunately, I tend to read before bed, and often fall asleep mid-sentence. Initially, I had difficulty following the non-linear plot of Brother (one member called the structure ‘wave-like’). In the end, I went back to the beginning of Brother, and started all over again, reading (drumroll) during the daytime.

And I’m really happy that I didn’t ‘DNF.’ I found that I when I was fully awake, I could easily follow the narrative, as it flipped from past to present and bounced along a few ‘waves.’ Go figure. In the end, Brother was heart wrenching and poignant. I found the interconnected themes of racism and the ‘lost’ Canadian dream, written by Chariandy in such concise, descriptive language, topical and affecting. And as a Torontonian, the story was particularly painful and present.

My other book club also meets this week but I have decided to miss. You see A Gentleman in Moscow was selected, and I don’t want any spoilers. After successfully trying again with Brother, I am determined to make a third attempt. Soon.

And I guess it is ridiculous that I view ‘reading’ as entertainment, to be indulged in after a day of ‘work.’ A Gentleman in Moscow is a hefty read, so I’ll likely need a transatlantic flight or something similar to make any headway. But then again, I wonder if it’s worth all the effort, considering how backlogged I am and all those great books out there…