True stories

Tomorrow morning, instead of heading straight to the office, I will detour to my local coffee shop for Book Group.

Four of us meet every week, at 8am on Friday mornings. We drink coffee, or lattes, mochas, or tea. We eat bagels, or donuts or chocolate chip cookies, or whatever food item we might smuggle in from home to eat with the beverage we purchase. For me, that might be a banana or a granola bar. For others, it might be a hard-boiled egg.

We spend an hour or more catching up with each other, and at least a quarter of the time, we talk about whatever book we’ve decided to read together. Depending on how much we are enjoying said book, or how far along the slowest reader among us may be in the agreed-upon reading assignment, we may actually talk about it for half, or even three quarters of the time.

The ratio of book discussion time to overall gathering time depends on several variables, from what other topics of conversation might be more interesting than the book in question to how many friends and acquaintances who are not part of the book group happen to drop by for their respective caffeine fixes. (Who needs Cheers when you can have a cool neighborhood coffee shop?)

Our reading list is very fluid, and very subjective. Over the past few months, we have read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: What I Learned While Editing My Life by Donald Miller, Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell, The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University by Kevin Roose, and Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. (Confession time: that last one? I didn’t finish.)

Tomorrow, we’ll be talking about Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy by Gary D. Schmidt. I pretty much read this book, which is marketed primarily to a young adult audience, in 24 hours. I loved it. It’s based on a true story, it won a Newbery Honor, and it made me cry.

One of the running jokes among the book group members is my proclivity for memoirs. Whenever it’s time for us to figure out what we’ll read next, it’s a good bet that my wish list will include at least one memoir.

But even if a novel, a “made-up” story, isn’t based on a true story, sometimes it rings truer than a so-called non-fiction book. And a memoir may be filled with half-truths and self-delusion.

Something to bring up tomorrow morning at Book Group.

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