Friday, November 20, 2009

It's Dickens, Decisions and Delightful Fellowship This Weekend

We're on the run today (what's new) with several errands and tasks to perform before heading down to a bed and breakfast (Whispering Pines) in Nebraska City for the annual retreat of our literary society, the Notting Hill Napoleons.

We go there every November and take over the place from Friday afternoon to Sunday morning, enjoying each others' company and conducting our discussion of the year's Charles Dickens novel. This year it's Great Expectations.

Actually, this is our second time with this novel because our group has been going so long, we've read all of Dickens and are now into our third re-read of the great author. But since you can never read too much of Dickens, we're all looking forward to sharing the joys (old and new) we had this time around.

Also during our weekend, we decide on the book rota for the coming year. We've got it down to a science by now but, like a lot of science, it's hard to explain to the uninitiated. Suffice it to say, it involves competing lists, discussion, some pitiful pleading by some members and a series of three (sometimes four) votes before we knock it out.

For Claire's and my part, we prepare a detailed list of recommendations every year, complete with appropriate description, number of pages, cost and availability information. Then we hand it out. No reading the list aloud that we've just handed out. (Didn't you always hate teachers who did that?) And no begging, guilt-trips, bribes or trade-offs. We want the votes to be about the books...not about the personalities or emotions of the members themselves.

It actually doesn't take that long, though sometimes it sure seems like it. But we've done pretty well over the years. A few clunkers have slipped in but otherwise, a whole lot of terrific literature. If you'd like to see the entirety of the Notting Hill Napoleon reading list, you can over at The Book Den: 1992-2007, 2008 and 2009.

And you can also read through Claire's and my recommendation list for this year over there. You might find it of interest as you have your own "debates" about what to read this year.

And wherever you are and whatever you're doing this weekend, have a great time with it!