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Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Club Love

I’ve done time in a book club or two. Friends from the neighborhood. Online with writer pals. Serious readers at the local college.
Every book group is different. Book discussions with other writers are always feisty. I love the way they lead me to the best of the latest thing out there. Because writers can be harsh critics, if they like something—I’d better check it out!

My “serious readers” book discussions are like “Continuing Ed” credits. They remind me of college English courses. Except, more fun because I’m not afraid of the teachers anymore! Popping into a discussion like this keeps me on my toes. It’s nice to touch base with a classic every now and then. (Even better when you can follow up with a trip to the latest film remake. Those costumes in Gatsby? Swoon worthy!)

Of course, my special love is my neighborhood book group. We’ve “grown up” together with our kids, dogs, work and dear, Dear Husbands. Our monthly meeting usually begins by covering family updates, local politics, general gossip and information trading on everything from handyman phone numbers to recipes. Don’t get us started about the local gardener’s blue eyes. It’ll be another half hour before we get around to discussing the book.

I don’t mind. Books are meant to be social. They are meant to be shared and discussed and mulled and praised and insulted. Some of that requires a little chatting and goofing off too. It’s not English class. It’s fun.
“The Book Group,” as we call ourselves, coordinates food to the book of choice. Great fun when the book is “Great Gatsby” & we get to try the Daisy Martini. But don’t get me started about “My Year of Meats” and the meat-fudge. Although, the phallic suckers for the “The Fanmaker’s Inquisition” bring on giggles to this day.

(Imagine the conversation that led to that special treat.
Gentle Reader to Shopkeeper: “Hi! I’d like 2 dozen penis pops, please. To go.”)

I love when the book spills over into food, or a trip to the movies, or someone brings in an artifact that is mentioned in the story. I love the way we bring the book to life as we meet together. And the strangest thing is, some of our best discussions happen when we really hate a book. (Or at least one of us does.) I got pelted with old shoes for suggesting “In the Cut” one month. But we had a great discussion about language and how it shapes/represents the dominant culture.  Jody Piccoult is a hot button. Some love her. Some, uh, not so much! But we had a great discussion of her book.

Do you participate in a book group? What do you love? What would you change?


Marcelle Dubé said...

What an interesting post! I've tried book clubs a few times and while I love the idea of them, I've discovered I'm not cut out for them. I detest being told what book to read, especially on a regular basis!

Mind you, I envy you your neighbourhood club...

Rita said...

I am envious of your book club.
I’ve tried a couple in the last ten years and it was a complete fail on both. The first one 2 people controlled it. The reading list contained political books (their politics of course). Books from financial and spiritual gurus. I asked why they read and the response was to be entertained and informed. Eeep! I sure have a different view of entertainment. The second said they didn’t read ‘those’ kinds of books when I asked about putting some romance in the list. I was also told there was no such thing as genres in books. It was all literary. Allrighty then. I last 4 months there. Quickly discovered no one was reading the books.
Heavy sigh.

J Wachowski said...

Oh Marcelle, sounds like you were scarred by an English teacher! Our group takes turns suggesting titles and then we vote. But, 1 person who feels strongly can veto a book too.

There are so many things to read--we always find another suggestion. But, hoo-la, democracy takes FOR-evah.

Rita--I did time in a book group like that once. Not so fun. I distinctly remember someone saying to me : "That's exactly the wooly-minded liberal thinking that got us into this financial trouble."

I laughed it was so outrageous! Then I politely declined to attend the next month. Or the next.

Maybe you both should start your own? :)

Anne Marie Becker said...

I love my book club ladies, even if I'd prefer more romance picks...but they do force me to broaden my horizons. I confess, I mostly love the food and wine. ;) And the company, of course, especially since we're all mothers of children about the same age, so we have a lot to chat about.

Cathy Perkins said...

I haven't found a book club to chat with - although reading your responses, it sounds like they can be everything from a version of my beloved Supper Club to my worst nightmare!

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