Diane Setterfield’s The Thirteenth Tale made my acquaintance thanks to fellow bookaholic and neighbor Karen, who had read it for her book club. Eerily mysterious, this novel is chock full of vivid descriptions, imagery, and characterization. One such passage, which has nearly convinced me not to donate by body to science and ultimately be cremated, yearns to be written on my tombstone:
People disappear when they die. Their voice, their laughter, the warmth of their breath. Their flesh. Eventually their bones. All living memory of them ceases. This is both dreadful and natural. Yet for some there is an exception to this annihilation. For in the books they write they continue to exist. We can rediscover them. Their humor, their tone of voice, their moods. Through the written word they can anger you or make you happy. They can comfort you. They can perplex you. They can alter you. All this, even though they are dead. Like flies in amber, like corpses frozen in ice, that which according to the laws of nature should pass away is, by the miracle of ink on paper, preserved. It is a kind of magic. (17)
Furthermore, Setterfield’s skill at painting a picture creates intrigue and resolution in the unlikeliest of places:
She was mid-yawn when something began to happen to her face. First it was a sudden blurring in the center of her forehead, like a blister. Another mark appeared on her cheek, then beneath her eye, on her nose, on her lips. Each new blemish was accompanied by a dull thud, a percussion that grew faster and faster. In a few seconds her entire face, it seemed, had decomposed.
But it was not the work of death. It was only rain. The long-awaited rain. (56)
I could go on, but I do not want to rewrite Setterfield’s entire piece of work in this blog. Instead, in regards to book club, I think a rich cocoa and a weak tea would be nice accompaniments to this discussion. Since much thumbing through the pages will surely ensue, food and utensils would only serve as hindrances and are not needed.
Dr. Eben Alexander’s Proof of Heaven is a must-read for the scientific-minded person who may struggle with theology because of his/her left-brained dominance. In fact, Alexander himself was one who fell into this category of thinking until he found himself in a life-threatening coma for seven days. During this time, Alexander’s brain was, in essence, not functioning. Alexander, an academic neurosurgeon, is able to explain the intricacies of his illness in layman’s terms for the scientifically challenged like myself and still maintain reader interest.
Alexander describes in vivid detail his life-changing experiences in those seven days while in the presence of God or “Om” (as he refers to Him), the Realm of the Earthworm’s-Eye View, the Core, and the Gateway. According to statistics, this man should have perished from his sickness let alone have some lingering brain damage if not complete incapacitation. Instead, Alexander fully recovers, a medical miracle.
For the purposes of book club, a spread composed of eggs would definitely prompt discussion for as Alexander writes:
While in the Core, even when I became one with the Orb of light and the entire higher-dimensional universe throughout all eternity, and was intimately one with God, I sensed strongly that the creative, primordial. . . aspect of God was the shell around the egg’s contents . . . (160).
A dear friend and Brownie mother, Sarah K., told me about a program offered at The Glen Carbon Centennial Library where children are given the opportunity to read aloud to therapy dogs, Socrates and Shoto. Taking this idea and running with it, my co-leader Sarah B. and I offered it as a field trip option for both our Daisy and Brownie troops, 48 and 611 respectively.
Although occurring at 6 p.m. on a school night (my squirts who have a love of sleep like their momma are snoozing by 7:30 p.m. most nights), the response in numbers from both troops was ideal.
Magi Henderson, the Youth Services Director extraordinaire, had books set out from which the readers could choose or readers were allowed to roam the shelves and select a book (or books) of their own choosing.
Due to the large number of participants, Shoto and Socrates were placed in separate areas so that the children could gravitate between the two.
At 6:30, Fun Patches were distributed and our circle hug was completed. This allowed some Daisies and Brownies to stay until the departure of the dogs at 7 p.m. while others could peruse the library or be on their way.
If your squirt or your troop is interested in reading to Shoto and Socrates, check the calendar and register (cost is FREE)- next visit is October 14, 2013.