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As I mentioned in my inaugural post, one of my projects for the year was reading twelve classics that I had never gotten around to before. While the year started out strong, my newfound interest in reading led me to discover so many great contemporary books (such as Await Your Reply, City of Thieves, and 13 Reasons Why) that I had a bit of trouble keeping up with my should-reads. As you might guess, I soon found myself with half the year gone and Don Quixote and War and Peace still unread.

What to do? In an effort to conquer the remaining books on my list, I started a book salon with a few like-minded work colleagues. The concept is simple: instead of reading and dissecting one book, as in a book club, everyone selects whatever book they want that fits the theme of that month. The initial topics that I proposed revolved around my remaining should-reads: classic boys adventure, dystopian novels, quests, and Russian authors.

After a fabulous first discussion on quests (Moby-Dick, Don Quixote, The Road), this month’s salon was “Cherchez la femme!” and everyone chose books with eponymous heroines. Selections included Jane Eyre, Lolita, and Madame Bovary. I read two short works, both twists on classic tales: Mary Reilly is a retelling of the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde from the viewpoint of a maid in Jekyll’s household and The Penelopiad tells the story of Homer’s Odyssey through the eyes of Penelope and the twelve hanged maids. Both provide an interesting take on narrative viewpoint and the female perspective. You can see my reviews of both of these works at Goodreads.

So far, both these themes have proved to be excellent jumping-off points for literary discussions and I eagerly await our next salon: Russian Roulette.

Please feel free to post your thoughts and questions on the book salon concept. What do you think would make a good theme for a book salon session?

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