Friday, July 1, 2016

On Book Clubs...

It's a bright and sunny day...the birds are chirping...I am loaded up with coffee...and looking forward to a long weekend of reading!  Life is Good!!  After reviewing The Real Liddy James by Anne-Marie Casey I got to thinking about what makes a good Book Club selection. 
The book's size doesn't really matter a whole lot to me. If it's a really good book, you're going to get so swept up in it that you'll lose track of time and find you've read hundreds of pages without noticing.  Well, unless you're a more reluctant reader.  I've personally found that this is where E-books come in handy.  With an e-book page numbers aren't quite as blatant...and you won't be intimidated by reading something the size of a New York City phone book.  I personally enjoy making my purse a weapon, weighed down with a GIANT hardcover. 

I also don't think Genre is a good indicator either.  As I mentioned before, I am no book snob.  Years ago I listened to a friend tell another friend that she wasn't a "reader" because she mainly stuck to Danielle Steel tomes. I cry bullshit.  I don't think that's fair...not to the reader or to Danielle Steel.  As we tell folks in the library all the time, reading is reading.  I don't care if it's a graphic novel (comic book to us old folks) or Tolstoy.  We run into this problem with kids on up to adults.  If you enjoy reading it, who cares?  I have read great chick lit books...and great historical fiction stories.  Genre shouldn't get in the way of your selection. 

I think the most important trait for a good Book Club selection is relatability and whether there is good fodder for discussion.  The tricky thing with this is that you can't really find out either of those without actually reading the book.  I can usually find something in any book that I can relate to.  The main character may be wealthy, and I sure as hell am not, but they are a mom...and I can relate to the problems mothers face.  Or they may be a maid in 19th century England, and I'm not the worlds best cleaner, but we both have some family dysfunction hiding in our closets (I mean, who doesn't?) I can relate. 

I guess what I'm getting at is, there really isn't any golden rule when picking out a book for your Book Club.  The key is reading with discussion in mind, especially if you're going to come up with that on your own, instead of stealing the many good questions available online.  Look for the scenarios you can relate to.  Look for what you have in common, or don't have in common with the characters.  As you're reading, really try and find the emotion that's evoked in the scenarios.  Why do you feel that way?  Does it remind you of something in your life?  Would you have handled things in a completely different way? 

If you come at any book with those things in mind, you are going to be able to have a good discussion with others.  If your memory is as bad as mine, use a sheet of paper as your bookmark, and take notes as you read...but don't bother, if it makes you feel like you're doing homework.  Reading should be fun, and book clubs even more fun.  If it hurts, no one is going to do it!  Maybe jot down your favorite quotes in a notebook.  Reading those will probably jog your memory on what was happening during that section of the book.  Plus afterwards you would have a nice memento of your favorite books.  I think you can learn a lot about a person by their favorite literary quotes. 

I think everyone should be involved in a book club.  If having a broad spectrum of genres intimidates you, maybe you should start one that is more specific.  You like cookbooks, and read them for fun?  Start a Cookbook Club...and have a potluck each month where everyone makes a dish from the book.  You like graphic novels?  Start a Comic Book Club.  Kids books...YA books...Historical Fiction...SciFi, etc.  Make T-Shirts for everyone, or Tote Bags.  Embrace what makes y'all special.  But keep reading!!  And have fun doing it.  If you do, book club night could be the highlight of your social calendar.

Here's a few of my favorite Book Club Selections.  Enjoy...and let me know if you have a favorite Book Club book.  Do you belong to a book club?  Do you agree with my thoughts? 

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