At the time, I had not been in my position as a full-time editor for very long, but I was already experiencing one of the main problems I have with my job: I read books all day at work, and so it's really hard to get excited about them when I'm at home.
When I was asked if I wanted to join the book club, I had two competing thoughts:
- Why in the hell would I want to do that?
- That would be a perfect way to force myself to read more books and - hopefully - it would even remind me why I have always liked to read.
Since that time, I've read a ton of books I never would have read (or at least a dozen or two - we only meet every 4 to 6 weeks, after all). Some have been really good. Some have not been things I'd recommend. One... well... one I actually skipped about a third of, just so I could get to the end before book club - and, you know, I didn't seem to miss anything. And then there's the one that I really like, but have only made it through a third of, even though it was for book club a few months ago (I really enjoyed the conversation about it, even so).
But I don't think I've actually missed a meeting. I've found that the meetings - which do start out being about the books, though they often digress into other topics for about half the time - are why I read the books, and not the other way around. I'm not in book club so that I can read the books and talk about them at meetings. I'm in the club so that I can go to meetings and talk about books.
And, yes, our club has gradually gotten smaller. When we started, there were a consistent 6-10 attendees. Now our average is 4 or 5. But we all still read the books. And we all still talk about them. And we all bring food and sit and talk about our lives. It's kind of like a literary therapy group, with books as a fringe benefit.
So although I might never get excited about "Love in the Time of Cholera," and while the consensus was that "Gulp" might have felt like it was missing it's through-line, and while I loved "The Night Circus" (which my mother recommended), I've come to realize that the reason I book club is much more about the club, and much less about the books.
And I'm fine with that.
**Oh, and if you want more info about the book club I'm in, let me know. We're not overly academic, but we have good conversation and - usually - good food.