The Literary Salon

I’ve always wanted to own a bookstore and host a literary salon at night for all my witty and talented friends.    A literary salon is different from a book club, as people can just drop in, like a cocktail party.   In Paris in the Roaring Twenties salons were frequented by intellectuals, writers, artists and the celebrities du jour (Hemingway, Picasso, Fitzgerald & Co), with the sole purpose of providing stimulating conversation, amusing repartee and a lively exchanges of ideas…..plus free booze.   With a book club, you can have all of those too, but you are there to focus on the book…..hopefully.  

My experience with book clubs has been poor.  Attempting to infiltrate a library book club proved a disaster as the tightly-knit group had been together for over a decade and there always seemed to one or two members who squashed any opinion which didn’t agree with theirs, or worse monopolized the discussion.  The group was so large (18-25), as to be unwieldy, with some (myself included), being too intimidated to speak up, despite the best efforts of the moderator to make sure everyone had a say.  The structure was rigid, with a list of questions to cover in a set period of time.   Also, there was no food, or even coffee and it was late afternoon, which tended to interfere with my nap time.   I then thought of hosting my own more informal book club evenings with a smaller group of literary friends, perhaps once a season with food, like Southern cooking for The Help….pass the pecan pie please.   A group of local women self-published a book about their book club theme nights, complete with menus and lots of bevies, but they were rich and prone to extravagant weekend getaways, plus the hostess had to buy everyone a copy of the next book.      

What is the difference between a book club and a famous literary salon like the ones Hemingway attended, other than better food and more chic clothing?

Paris salon

Hard to imagine Hemingway at a book club.   Do men do book clubs – possibly in big cities, but not in my neck of the woods.   Only in the movies, like The Jane Austen Book Club, where they may have an ulterior motive ie. a crush on one of the members.   But they might be tempted to drop in on a literary salon if alcohol was provided.   Most afternoon book clubs tend to be female affairs  with tea in china cups and fancy sandwiches and cookies, or evening wine and cheese and gossip….but first we must discuss the book with a list of questions to cover.    Literary salons tend to be more free ranging affairs with small groups of individuals, male and female, congregating and discussions covering any number of topics…..and of course gossip!   It would be nice to combine the best of both worlds, good conversation, good food and drink and a relaxed atmosphere (one where you can hang out in your PJ’s).   Of course, if you are hosting a literary salon, having a Paris address helps, but since WordPress is our blogging home, that will have to suffice.     

So starting in January, I would like to present my new virtual Literary Salon.  We will open with the murder mystery, An Unwanted Guest, by Shari Lapena  (see link).   It’s the perfect book for a blizzard, so button up your overcoat, you don’t want to get chilled.     Please feel free to drop by anytime…..   

Postscript –  Bring Your Own Beverage – a Bloody Mary might be suitable for our first selection. 

Cue some jazzy twenties cocktail music:

 

 

 

 

30 thoughts on “The Literary Salon

  1. lindasschaub says:

    I follow a blogger who is in a book club and they sound like such fun – not stuffy and they take turns hosting the club at their place and try to make a theme meal/dessert to match the book. I’ve never known anyone who was in a book club before AJ and it sounds interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thehomeplaceweb says:

      I think it would be fun in someone’s house – the library one was too formal and stuffy for my taste. I have some friends who are great readers and we have talked about doing it but it’s hard to set a date, as most of my friends are retired and busy traveling etc. .

      Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        The next time AJ hosts one, she will probably show pics of the food, and the theme … I don’t know how many people are in her book group and they rotate houses … if memory serves me right, the last one she did was a French food theme as the book had a French theme. It did sound fun – I wouldn’t like a stuffy group either.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Yes, I will – I will look if her site is searchable, she just redid it recently. If you do decide to do it, she’s very nice and I’m sure would be happy to tell you what she and the others do. She had pictures of the last one.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Hi Joan – the first time I tried to search AJ’s site, I could not find a search bar … then I went to the About part and found it … I didn’t realize she just had one in December … I think the French one was in the Summer then. I also think she reads 300 books a year … some are smaller books though as she has said before, not all long novels. Anyway, here is a post from December on book club and I will give you any more going forward … I scrolled down in the comments for this post and she described it a little 8-10 people in the group, not that many attend though. I am sure if you wanted to leave a question, she’d answer it … here is the post:
        https://countdownto95.wordpress.com/2018/12/10/who-knew/

        Liked by 1 person

      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        Thanks Linda…..I checked it out. Lots of good food, but they didn’t get around to discussing the book! I think I’ll stick with my virtual salon for now. I can’t even imagine reading 300 books a year. I keep a book journal, and record and last year I read 55 books, about one a week…..I’m down from about 65 since I started blogging.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        When I am retired, I want to get back into reading – I read for years during my bus commute – I don’t know if I kept track of how many a year I read though, but it was a lot, plus my mom and I subscribed to quite a few magazines as well. Read them at home more.
        I am looking forward to retirement … just a few more years, but a chance to be away from the computer more often. I wonder if there are other posts where they discuss the book … this may be more a social event?

        Liked by 1 person

      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        That’s the problem…..too social versus too rigid…..it would be nice to have something inbetween. I love being retired, although I might have worked a few years longer part time if I could have found something I liked well enough to put up with the stress.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        I would consider a job as a freelance blogger … they have those jobs in a newsletter I get every week and I have been perusing them, at least I thought it was a good idea until this arm issue. I have to see if I can solve the issue before thinking ahead after Robb retires – he will be 72 in March.
        His father, also an attorney, was working at age 82, and got sick and died of kidney disease (he was diabetic) and Robb had to close down his practice after he died. I have not taken social security though I am eligible to do so now (after turning 62) nor any stock dividends … if our country keeps on a downward spiral, the stock market goes down with it. That is worrisome to me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        Thank you Joan! I think it would be fun to do that … I did work for a search engine optimist briefly back in 2014 … it was a side job and never told my boss. I had to do 8 posts a week and it was not too bad – I’d do one a day, then finish up on the weekend, proof, format and send the Word document to him. I was not paid much … 1 penny per word ($7.00 for a 700-word post). In the beginning he gave me a new assignment every Monday and it was due Sunday night. At the time we were not too busy at work and I left timely every night, but then the guy I worked for, got a girlfriend and was distracted about giving me assignments. Instead of the usual 8 per week, he would forget to give me posts to do, then I’d get 16 due in one week because he dropped the ball. Then he would e-mail me and ask me to think of topics to write about and write them … finally the work dried up and we were busy at work again and it was difficult to keep up. Never told my boss as he would have had something to say about it – for example, when I started the blog, I was excited and mentioned it … his comment was “do you get paid for it?” So I never mentioned it again. When I did the blog posts, the guy had different clients – there were posts about home decor (wrote about paint colors, trending colors in the house); a dentist so wrote about new dental procedure; a childcare/daycare center and a health food store. There was also a pool company and a landscaping company. It was interesting at first, but half the time he gave me the same assignment later – hard to be creative then. I would like that as it was not too demanding as long as he kept on schedule.

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      • lindasschaub says:

        Hope the other book club events are helpful in case you’d end up going form virtual to real … if you can find some like-minded people … does your library have an online presence where you can ask if they could organize one?

        Liked by 1 person

      • thehomeplaceweb says:

        I tried the library real one and that’s the one I didn’t like, as the group was too large and had been together a long time. I have friends who are readers but again, it’s too hard to schedule. I noticed with AJ’s they pick the books at the beginning of the year, and maybe the dates too…..that might work. Even with the library club, at least half of the books chosen were ones I wouldn’t have picked and didn’t like…..so I got into the habit of not reading it and not going. I think maybe what I like about bookclubs is the food!

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        She does talk about the food alot … she does read a lot of short books as well, but I can’t fathom reading 300 books a year, she knits almost every night, watches TV, runs, exercises (she lost a lot of weight and is on a rigorous exercise schedule) plus works … she leaves me in the dust.

        Liked by 1 person

      • lindasschaub says:

        I think she is in her early 30s – I guess we had that much energy then too, but I was always more of a homebody, not like now, but more so than she is … she has a lot of things going on hobby wise and exercise wise.

        Liked by 1 person

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