View From The Glen

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Book Club

Tonight is the first meeting of my book club post-summer and the theme is to come, meet new members, and discuss the kinds of books we want to read this year. The kind of books we like to read.

I found myself at a bit of a loss. I'm sitting here in my office, in my small but chock-filled library, and I am having trouble deciding what to say.

You'd think it would be easier. I've been around books all my life--my first "library" was an ancient wardrobe with an old fashioned key that I locked my books away in as a child and would get right inside with a flashlight to see all the titles; I don't recall a time when I wasn't reading something; I studied books in university; I edit books for heaven's sake! I should be able to come up with something concrete about the books I like to read.

But it thwarts me, this narrowing down of genre. I'm sitting on the literary fence and I don't want to leave any books out.

I discussed this dilemma with a friend of mine over strawberry dacquiri's last night. She used to work in marketing at chapters (dream job, anyone?) and part of her role was to co-ordinate book clubs. There was the mystery book club, the romance book club, the sci-fi book club...every kind of book club was available, but I can't see myself ever limiting myself to one kind of book. At the two ends of the scale were the following: the serious book club where serious literary adults discussed serious literary works, and the Martini book club, where the focus was only marginally on books at all.

What I suppose I'd like, ideally, is to fall somewhere in the middle. A book club that is sociable and fun, relaxing yet insightful. And I think, for the most part, we've achieved that at my current book club. We don't read much "serious" literature, but we do like our books to have some meat to them. You can mock Oprah all you want (and I frequently do) but her book club titles are usually quite well chosen in terms of a rewarding but not too analytical read.

Because in the end, reading should be fun. And a book club--for me at least--should not be work.

Are you in a book club? What kinds of books do you like to read? And how do you format your meetings - structured or free-for-all? Chime in below.


kwrites said...

I was in a book club - but it never really seemed to "take" and eventually we just sort of stopped going...

I have a few book-loving/wine-loving friends who talk about starting up again - but it seems we procrastinate and/or drink wine more than we actually come together on any sort of book selection. (sigh)

Leanne Haines said...

I agree with you — I can't imagine limiting myself to a book club of a singe genre. I enjoy the variety of books my book club chooses (except when they occasionally choose celebrity autobiographies — those I don't feel the need to discuss). But overall, our choices have been good. Every six months we all come with a couple of ideas and then vote on them, and generally I've been pleased. We have tried nearly every genre, a few I've loved, most I've liked, a few I've hated. I do wish our discussion would go a bit more in depth. Usually we spend about 15 minutes talking about who liked what and who hated what, and then our conversation meanders off into other territory. I would like it to have a tiny bit more structure. Still, it is nice to read books I may not have chosen on my own and share a discussion with other book lovers, which I guess is the point of a book club in the first place. I'm considering joining another one at the library, but I'm afraid that might just confirm my suspicions that I have no life!

Thanks for the post! I enjoyed it!

Suzanne Brandyn said...

Hi Colleen
I have never been in a book club and always wanted to join one. I'm not too sure if they have them in my surrounding area. I've looked, but envy those who attended and partipate in one. Kuddos. :)

Finola said...

I love my book club and I think it sounds quite a lot like yours. It is a great mix of nice, smart people, and even includes three men which adds great perspective. No one is pretentious in either their book choices or in the discussions. We always have a good discussion about the book, but we will also talk about all kinds of other topics too. I feel very lucky to have been invited to join my group.