Friday, January 23, 2015

Why I Book Club

Some time in 2013, a friend of mine was getting a bunch of people together to start a book club. Not an overly academic book club, but a book club full of people from different backgrounds, where the books would be democratically chosen and decent food and even the occasional alcoholic beverage would be thrown in. 

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: 
  1. Why in the hell would I want to do that?
  2. 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. 
When the food and beverage idea was added in, I decided that that kind of answered point number 1, and so I went ahead and said yes. 

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.

No comments: