Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Napoleons' Getaway

Well, it's that time of year again and so late tomorrow afternoon Claire and I will be driving down to Nebraska City to join the rest of the Notting Hill Napoleons for our annual weekend getaway at the Whispering Pines Bed & Breakfast. It's always a delightful time and we look forward to it -- spending time with good friends; preparing (and eating!) delicious meals; plenty of conversation spread over diverse topics; selecting our books for the coming year; and conducting our traditional discussion of the year's Charles Dickens novel.

It's a wonderful part of our autumn. In fact, Claire and I have begun to treat it as the kickoff to our Christmas season.

This year we're trying an experiment for choosing next year's reading rota. Instead of debating our way through several different book lists offered by various members (a situation which has sometimes resulted in wounded feelings and other unfortunate and unnecessary problems), I suggested that this year we compile a common list. The members graciously agreed to give it a try.

All recommendations were therefore given privately to me along with the requisite information/sales pitch that the respective members wrote about each book. I then typed up the list with each recommendation in a form that was a) unedited, b) alphabetized by title, and 3) without reference to the identity of the submitter. Then each member was given a copy of this common list several days before our getaway weekend begins.

We will still vote in 2 or 3 stages to whittle our list down to 12 books (and an alternate) but I'm hoping this will spare the group from needlessly listening to someone reading printed handouts that are right before us (I hated that in school and I hate it still) as well as helping us avoid personal lobbying of one's recommendations. It is the latter that has been problematic.

Will it work? Who knows. It's worth a try, right?

At any rate, as to the tradition here at the Book Den to print "Denny & Claire's Annual List of Notting Hill Napoleons’ Reading Recommendations," that will still be in place. We will simply print here only the books that came from us. But I don't want to give the secret away until after this weekend's vote...just in case a cybersurfing Napoleon finds his way over here before then!