Monday, August 19, 2013

Update on the Book Club

I hinted in a blog a couple months ago that I was starting a book club at work.  Since then, I've held two meetings (we meet once a month) and am pleased to announce SUCCESS!
First let me say that I had purely selfish reasons for starting this club.  I've never been a member at any other book club and that's for the following reasons:

1. book clubs were never reading books I wanted to read
2. they seemed filled with old ladies with nothing better to do than psychoanalyze the many possible reasons why Charlotte Bronte chose to kill Mr. Rochester's crazy wife in a house fire.  Ug.

I'm sure I'm totally off base here, but this is pretty much what I envisioned a book club to be
And yet I really wanted to join a book club.  One of my most favorite-est things to do is discuss a book I've read with someone else (preferably who has also read the book).  So, in the spirit of "my way or the highway" I started my own club so I can secretly (or not so secretly) have control over the books we read.  Is that a little creepy?  No, don't tell me.

Creepiness aside, our first book was The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.  It was great.  Most everyone in the group is a veterinarian or associated with vet med, so a book narrated by a dog was a big hit.  We laughed, we cried, we had a rollicking good time. 

Then onto the next month.  I sung the praises of Swamplandia!, by Karen Russell, which I read this past February.  Folks thought the premise of this novel sounded interesting (and who wouldn't: set in the Everglades in Florida in a failing gator-wrestling tourist attraction) and thus it was decided: Book #2.

I began hearing murmurings of dissent soon afterward.  Swamplandia! is a heavy read and putting it right after the fairly quick read of Stein's novel, it feels even more toilsome.  Even I'll admit that.  People were complaining.  They said they couldn't finish it in time.  They didn't like it.  It was too depressing.  I was fearing rebellion.

This is where I learned Book Club Lesson #1: not everyone has to like every book all the time. 

As a colleague who is not in the Book Club but was listening to my concerns of burning pitchforks said: "They'll get over it.  It'll be good for them."  And she was right.

The second meeting went just as well as the first.  Sure, there were people who didn't like the book.  But it added to the discussion.  People brought up points that I, in my blinded love for everything that is Karen Russell (MY GOD have you read Vampires in the Lemon Grove yet???), had not considered.  Some points I didn't agree with but that's the point - we TALKED.  We DISCUSSED.  We had a rollicking good time.

Next month (actually now in a few weeks here - time flies, and all that), we're reading George Orwell's 1984.  We all agreed we didn't remember a thing about that book when we were forced to read it in high school, so a revisit seemed like a good idea. 

And this is where I've come to learn Book Club Lesson #2: there is no "I" in "book club".  Notice the previous paragraph where I said "we"?  By golly, I've got myself a little democracy going on - we voted and everything!  I mean, surely I guide selections from which to choose, but still - it's the group choice at the end.  My totalitarian hand will only crack down in two instances: if someone suggests the Twilight series or 50 Shades of Grey.  Only then will Anna's Iron Curtain fall down. 

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