Select one of the keywords
Editorial July 2002
Karate Moms' Reading Club

By Hilary Williamson

What do you do with all that time spent waiting while the kids enjoy summer (plus spring, fall and winter) sports? I know there are times for jump-up-and-down cheering when Katie scores a soccer goal or Johnny hits a home run, but there are also long periods where the action is just ... not very active. Some take this time to stare at the sky, count mosquitoes or meditate on the complexity of the universe. Others read.

It struck me recently, with Oprah's semi-abdication as reigning monarch of the reading group community, that it's time for grass-roots action, and what better place for it than the sports fields of our kids? In the last couple of years, mine have switched their recreational focus from soccer to martial arts, so I spend a great deal of time with other karate moms (and a few karate dads) peering into the dojo as our children exercise and spar with each other.

Books became a natural addition to parental discussion topics that ranged from fanatics to eccentric neighbors (the difference between these two being occasionally hard to detect), and I have passed on quite a few novels from my ever-growing library. Lidia, who travels in China on business, was a natural for Justin Hill's Drink and Dream Teahouse, and appreciated the familiarity of many of its settings. Chris asked for a recommendation and then couldn't put Susan Sloan's Act of God down.

As others listened in, discussion expanded. We've found some types of books easy to talk about - those with ambiguous or surprise endings, strong characterization, unusual subjects, or high suspense. We all argued the ambiguity of who-really-dunit in Kate Manning's entrancing Whitegirl, and shared the chills of James Patterson and Andrew Gross's 2nd Chance. After the latter, Kate White's If Looks Could Kill provided light, chocaholic relief, which is just as well as I'm about to launch the group into Alice Sebold's haunting tale, The Lovely Bones.

As reading clubs go, those of sports spectators do tend to be interrupt-driven by minor injuries, moving objects and those charming adults who feel the need to argue with the ref. All that aside, chatting about books is a great way to spend these chunks of time, to get to know fellow parents, and to share the joy of reading. So feel free to start your own grass-roots reading group if you haven't already ... us karate moms will continue enjoying ours!

Note: Opinions expressed in reviews and articles on this site are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of BookLoons.