June is full of wondrous celebrations…weddings, graduations, Father’s Day and birthdays – specifically the birthday of my sister-in-law Susan (June 12) , my brother, Stuart (June 20) and me! Hooray! Today is my birthday! But that’s not what this post is about. I just thought I’d mention it…
Amid all of the hoopla of June, there’s a very special, and little known celebration – the anniversary of the charter meeting of The Ladies Literary League.
It all began one fine June evening 16 years ago. We assumed our pretentious name with our tongues firmly in cheek, but it was not long before Zach, the son of Literary Lady Robyn, put us firmly in our place. “Are you going to you LALA meeting tonight?” he asked his mom, rolling his eyes.
We laughed our heads off when Robyn told us about it, but the nickname stuck! We are The Lalas. We love books but I guess we’re really not very literary.
Book groups are popular today, but I don’t really know how many were around 16 years ago. We all thought we were onto something fresh, exciting and revolutionary. A group of girlfriends who loved to read. How fun it would be, we thought, for all of us to read the same book and then get together once a month a talk about it.
And so it began. We set the group up to have a rotating role as hostess. The hostess chooses the book and we have that month’s meeting at her house.
Sometimes we dress up for the occasion. Vivacious Robyn met us at the door drearily costumed as Mrs. Danvers when we read Rebecca.
Sometimes the hostess decorates a little bit to go along with the theme of the book. I remember being startled as I came up to Jennifer’s porch on the evening we would talk about Agatha Christie’s, And Then There Were None. She had hidden a tape recorder in the bushes to set the stage with scary noises as we approached the door.
The hostess usually gives each Lala a little gift that represents the book. For example, on that Agatha Christie night, Jennifer gave us a jar of blood orange marmalade. Colleen gave everyone a little bag of chocolate coins when we read Silas Marner; Sally presented us with a bottle of lemon water and a sponge when we read Circle of Friends; Denise gave each of us a small piece of clan tartan when we read The Baronet’s Song; and Geigy gave us Shasta Daisy seeds when we read The Great Gatsby.
Sometimes we adopt food from the book. I served blanc mange the month we read Little Women. Rather gross, but fitting for the occasion.
Every September we have a couples’ meeting and include our husbands. Whoever is hosting that month chooses a “manly book” like John Grisham or one of the Sackett cowboy adventure stories.
In December we have a Christmas party with an ornament-exchange-and-steal game. We try to find ornaments that represent the books we’ve read, or books in general. As an aside, I just want to say that’s a lot harder than you might think! I’m always on the lookout for book-themed ornaments.
With a few exceptions, the number in the group has stayed pretty consistent over the years. From time to time some new ladies have joined, and some have left. Some, heartbreakingly have moved away. Jennifer now lives across the United States and Geigy lives in Japan, but they stay involved with what we’re reading. Sometimes we talk to them on Skype during the meeting…and whenever either of them is back in California we try to arrange for her to host a gathering.
We are all so thankful for the wonder of books and the wonder of enduring friendship.
Over the years we have watched each other’s children grow up, and it’s been fun to share a love of books with them. The children have watched their mommies having fun with books. So imagine our delight, a couple of months ago, when we welcomed some new Literary Ladies into the League – three of our very own daughters – a new generation of Lalas!
June 13, 2011 at 8:25 am
What fun this tradition has been. I didn’t know the history of the name, but Thurs nights once a month have been LALA nights for a long time!
June 13, 2011 at 8:36 am
And now your beautiful wife is a Lala! I love that!
June 13, 2011 at 6:24 pm
Happy Birthday! Hope it is a great one.
July 11, 2011 at 6:14 pm
Thank you Karen! I missed this birthday wish! I was a wonderful day!
June 13, 2011 at 10:52 pm
LOVE the LaLa’s!!!! Book Clubs RULE!!! 🙂
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June 15, 2011 at 7:49 am
I so do not remember the paint cans, but what a cool idea 🙂 I still think you need to flesh out more of the lala story. It’s so complex and the depth of friendship is unmatched…keep writing more about the Lalas. I think it would also be a great roadmap for other book groups. And hey… I know of a great indie publisher 🙂
June 15, 2011 at 7:50 am
and the vain selfish part of me doesn’t like these lala pics of me, too much post baby for my liking 😦
June 15, 2011 at 8:03 am
That’s funny, Geig. That you don’t remember the paint cans! Do you remember the book? 🙂
I will write about the Lalas periodically. I agree that we could be a great roadmap for other groups. We have done such fun things! Miss you, my international bookie friend!
(And you are beautiful! Please don’t mind the posted pics!)
June 15, 2011 at 4:47 pm
so are you going to post about which book we have in our hands and why???
you do remember I was pregnant 3 times during my Lalas tenure, so I lost a lot of brain cells in the process. I don’t remember the paint cans, but remember the book, just not that I picked it 😦 I thought Colleen did. But of course when in doubt we always have our trusty secretary Madam Robyn. Please enlighten because I really don’t think I picked that book.
All the side stories are indelible and make for a great bookclub book…happy writing my friend.
Here’s my secret Lalas wish:
1. to be as witty and clever as Andee
2. to be as brainy and tall as Jennifer
3. to be as constant and trustworthy as Robyn
4. to have good taste and beauty as Sally
5. to be loving and fun as Denise
6. to love my family as deeply as Colleen
If I die before you all, reminding you I’m the youngest of the early bunch, I want you all to read at my funeral 🙂
Once a lala, always a lala!
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