They started out looking for adventure on skis, but after 10 years on the slopes, the Chix on Stix downhill ski club morphed and expanded into the Chicks’ Picks Book Club, seeking out adventure of the armchair variety.
They’ve found it in such novels as Keeper’n Me by Richard Wagamese, Twenty Chickens for a Saddle by Robyn Scott and Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.
And in between the pages they’ve found a connection with a group of fellow women – not always like minded, but open to exploring world views different from their own.
They call themselves the anti-book club, because they try to focus on the camaraderie, using the books as an excuse to get together, but not the sole topic for the night.
“Books are something we all feel connected to, that we can bring a little bit of ourselves to,” said Wendy McCracken.
That wasn’t always the case with every member, however. For some, like Jaime Brayman, reading is a recently discovered pleasure. The youngest of the group at age 23, she admitted that she hated reading when she was growing up, but now loves it.
Her first pick as a member of the club was the book Can You Keep a Secret, by Sophie Kinsella. The group laughs about it now, as they relate how they’ve since introduced Jaime to more literary choices.
The 10 ladies that make up the group, who range in age from 23 to 66, are both candid and passionate about their opinions, but also understand that sharing them is part of the fun, and are careful to avoid hurt feelings.
“We have been really blessed,” said Alice Gro, “All the people that have joined have added to the entertainment, and every book we’ve read comes with a personal story from someone.”
The location of the meeting rotates from month to month, as each member takes a turn inviting the group into their home. The host, who provides food and drinks, however, is not the one who picks the book, since presenting and moderating the evening, they feel, is a job in itself.
Presentations over the four years they’ve been getting together have ranged from straight ahead discussions (most common) to themed activities, depending on the ambition and inspiration of the presenter.
Last month, when The Pear Tree dropped by for a visit, the book of the month was selected by Alice. She chose Mennonites Don’t Dance, by Pear Tree contributor Darcie Freisen Hossack, and invited the author to attend and read from the book, as well as partake in a Q&A.
At the end of the meeting, after everyone has had their say, the ladies go around the room and rate the book on a scale from 1-5. Then, the details are recorded in the official Chicks Picks log book, and the next book is announced.
– Words and photos by Lori-Anne Poirier