Get to Know the Lark and Plunge Book Group

bookgroupbuzziconThis book group gets its name from the first lines of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway:

“What a lark! What a plunge! For so it had always seemed to her, when, with a little squeak of the hinges, which she could hear now, she had burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into the open air.”

You might already guess that this group is focused on literary classics—and they are (though they’re not above bandannas or a potluck).

Lark and Plunge Book Group

The Lark and Plunge group celebrate the New Year together. (L to R) Marty Sherman, Jane Sherman, Diana Gatz, Helen King, Lucille Ruga, Travis Sherman, and Mary Ellen Warren.

Years of Operation: 16

Leader: Travis Sherman

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Tell us a little about your book group.

Mrs DallowayAt a dinner in 2000, my husband and an acquaintance were having such an enjoyable talk about literature that I decided to start a book group. We had gone to the same college years earlier, purchased the same set of basic humanities books, and had dragged them unread around the country ever since. We started right in on Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner, and our Lark and Plunge Book Group has been going ever since.

Which book did your group collectively like the most this past year?

The book we enjoyed the most recently was Albert Camus’ The Stranger coupled with The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud. We’d all read The Stranger years earlier, but found it incredibly timely today.

Which is the most divisive book your group has read?

The book that gave us the hardest time was Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, which some of us loved and some disliked intensely. We gave ourselves three months to get through it, and that was an unpleasant three months. I was on the side of the disliked-intensely group and did not finish reading it, which thoroughly annoyed the Proust fans.

How do your group discussions work?

The StrangerOur group now is small, only seven. We’ve had members come and go. I tried to keep a list on LibraryThing of what we read, so when new members came, I could forward them the link and they could get an idea of what kinds of things we read. That didn’t always work. We are very unstructured, which might explain why former members thought they could not read the book and then talk off subject, or worse, give their opinion on what they thought the book was about.

I did want to mention our dinners. They’re always potluck and book related. I started the tradition at the very beginning when we read Conrad’s Secret Agent, where I served a roast beef on a cutting board with a large butcher knife buried in it. No one caught on until the very end of the discussion. It’s been a lot of fun searching for recipes and drinks from wildly varied settings.

Book-group evenings are a highlight of my month, and through them I have tackled and appreciated books I never would have had the discipline to read otherwise. Group members are my closest friends. We have traveled to New York City together, and we’ve taken a literary tour of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ home town.

Thanks for giving me the opportunity of stating how much I’ve loved my book group.

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About the Author:

Sarah Grant is the Marketing Associate for Booklist. Follow her on Twitter at @Booklist_Grant.

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