Recently, MinnPost’s Book Club Club gave away tickets to Cirque du Soleil’s “Ovo” to one lucky reader. Sharon DeMark of St. Paul was elate to learn she was the winner, noting she rarely wins anything.
“I don’t know if I’m more excited about going to see the circus, or about just winning!”
DeMark belongs to Rosie’s Readers, a book club founded six years ago by DeMark’s next-door neighbor, Mary Kay Watson.
According to DeMark, Watson “used to own a lovely bookstore up north in Dorset, Minn., called Sister Wolf Books. When she sold the store, she missed having a book group, so she decided to start one here in St. Paul!”
The club is made up of 10 members with wildly different occupations: a music teacher, a business owner, a magazine publisher, an eye-loss clinic employee, a biologist, an interior designer, a retired bookstore owner, a community foundation employee, a retired schoolteacher, and a retired school principal (currently back in school).
The club’s namesake — Watson’s springer spaniel — is also a beloved member of the group.
Rosie’s Readers meet monthly for discussion and read a wide variety of genres. Some favorite reads have been “Everything Matters!” by C. Ron Currie, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot and “The Latehomecomer” by Kao Kalia Yang.
“When we discussed ‘The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,’ ” DeMark notes, “our biologist member invited a friend who worked with Hela cells; we all took home bookmarks with actual Hela cells in them!”
The club had mixed reactions to (but really enjoyed talking about) Muriel Barbery’s “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” and Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom.”
Another book that has made for great discussion over the years is Margaret Atwood’s post-apocalyptic science fiction novel, “Oryx and Crake.”
“We read ‘Oryx’ during the club’s first year,” says DeMark. “It’s a disturbing book; we refer back to it often.”
This month, Rosie’s Readers is tackling Haruki Murakami’s experimental novel, “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,” for which he received the Yomiuri Literary Award.
This wild — and wildly long — novel was originally released in Japan in three parts over the course of 1994 and 1995; these editions make up the three “books” of the single-volume English language version.
The story centers on Toru Okada, an unemployed man whose mundane life suddenly becomes fantastical when he leaves home in search for his wife’s missing cat and enters a bizarre netherworld that lies beneath the placid surface of Tokyo.
“Wind-Up Bird” is, in concert, a detective story, a chronicle of a disintegrating marriage and an excavation of the buried secrets of World War II. With this book selection, Rosie’s Readers has their work cut out for them.
To be sure, grappling with literature isn’t the only thing Rosie’s Readers do together.
The group sees a film twice a year (in summer and in December) and has attended numerous author talks, including readings by Marilynne Robinson, Stephanie Kallos, Kao Kalia Yang, Joan Didion and “the very, very funny” Ann Patchett.
The biggest annual highlight for Rosie’s Readers is spending a summer weekend at a cabin in Dorset.
“We pick a book to discuss, but we also swim, lie in the sun, eat great food and simply hang out and talk,” says DeMark.
This summer, the club will be reading the recent Pulitzer Prize winner, “A Visit from the Goon Squad” by Jennifer Egan.
“I’m so grateful to Mary Kay for spearheading this group,” says DeMark. “I look forward to our meetings each month.”
Congratulations to Sharon DeMark on scoring tickets to “Ovo” — and thank you for sharing your book club’s story with the BCC community!
Wondering who’s eligible for MinnPost’s BCC giveaways? Your book club — or you personally — must be registered with MinnPost’s Book Club Club and/or subscribed to the BCC email newsletter. Both are free, and contact information is not shared.
Giveaways are announced online in the BCC section and occasionally by emails to club captains and BCC newsletter subscribers. Depending on the timing, giveaways may also be featured in the monthly BCC newsletter.