Last night, I had the honor and pleasure of speaking to a book club in Allen, Texas, where the topic of discussion was my first novel, Holy Water. We had a delightful evening of good food, a little wine, and lively conversation about my book. I love hearing from readers, who bring their own perspective and interpretations to the story and make it their own. There were insights and questions that I’d never thought of, and I think everyone had a wonderful evening.
This book club comprises some 25 members, and has been meeting monthly for 15 years. In that time, the members have discussed more than 150 books and grown into a tight-knit social group that supports and nurtures one another. Many of the members are physicians, and as we discussed the novel’s theme of developing professional identity, it was clear to me that these physicians were more reflective and thoughtful and empathic than average for our profession. So, the question is: are they in a book club because they are like this, or are they like this because they are in a book club? I tend to think it is a bit of both, but no question the club is nurturing their compassion, empathy, and altruism, the verities of medicine. It is also feeding their spirits, and providing them with something that enriches their busy lives. I came away feeling that I’d spent an evening in a story garden, among healthy, beautiful specimens that had enriched my life just by being in their presence.