I finally joined a book club. Or rather, I told myself, “I’ll read the book they’re reading and attend the first meeting and see how it goes.” I’ve always been a bit skeptical about book clubs. I’ve been asked to join more than one but most of them never truly existed. They were proposed in theory but no one took the initiative to start them. Skepticism arose mostly because I’m a solitary creature and I feared having to read something I didn’t want to, and so reading would turn into a task, something I had to do. I read more than most people I know. I’m not bragging; far from it. It’s like bragging: I spend more time alone ignoring other people with my cat on my lap drinking coffee in my pajamas indoors not interacting living in someone else’s world and not mine. That is my mindset: I am able to go places I never could experience and I usually go alone. There are the handful of books my other friends have read but usually we read them at separate times or different periods in our lives: Zadie Smith, Anne Rice, J. K. Rowling, Tom Robbins, Bukowski, Henry Miller, Anais Nin, Joan Didion. And having that shared reading history allowed us to become closer without having to share so much. Realizing we have the common ground of core writers helped shape our friendships.
This book club began as a group on facebook. I was busy all day and didn’t see it until I was home. I felt left out because everyone was already in dialogue about the book and the date and I just had to join. I wasn’t left out: I was too busy to check facebook all day. (Yes, that busy!!) So I looked at the proposed book and author, eagerly (and anxiously) joined, and so began my foray into shared reading since grad school.
I should add that our Book Club is called The Oxford Comma Appreciation Society. I love the name so much I wish I could get it tattooed as a back piece. Alas, I have one already that I do not regret, so I will not because I cannot but that is how much I love it. As Jennifer’s sister posted, “In our ‘rules of Write Club’ here, #8 is “‘Save the Oxford comma!'”
There were more people signed up for the club then could attend the first meeting. We read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. (A different post will be written about the book itself.) We met at a brewery that has a full bar and kitchen. Great location choice (not mine). Christina baked cookies that were heavenly. There were six of us all together.
We are all friends outside of the book club but we did actually talk about the book for over an hour. And as conversation drifted to other topics, we went back to the book, reviewing some of our favorite quotes.
Four of us had copies of the book but Neet left her copy at home. Two girls read Americanah on their kindles. And then they explained the benefits of a kindle to me (I have a friend who has kindly agreed to lend me hers). You can highlight your favorite passages and it will let you know if those quotes are popular with other kindle users, it will tell you an estimate of how long it will take you to finish reading a book, and you can lend books to other kindle users (for two weeks but the owner cannot read it for two weeks), and check books out of the library. I do not mean to turn this into an ad for them because ultimately, I don’t want one but I am trying to be open minded and am able to see the value in them.
Back to the shared discussion around Americanah—I interpreted the book’s ending differently from everyone else. At first I felt a little bad about it but I stand by my reading of the ending. No one attacked me or my reading, however, it was weird that I was the only one that interpreted the ending that way.
We then discussed how we would choose the next book to read. That was the moment of truth. Would I continue in this book club? I like everyone in it. I liked the discussion we had. I loved the book that was chosen, which I never would have discovered on my own. But I can be a bit curmudgeonly.
And the chosen author? Joan Didion! So yes, I will be reading the chosen book. And yes, I will be attending the next meeting, so that means that I did join a book club.
I think joining this book club is a positive step. I began this blog for a few reasons, one of them being that I used to read and read without ever truly digesting books. Having to talk about a book and explain what I think about it is another level of reading that I have not done in years. It is so much easier to read and not explain what you think; oftentimes I’ve feared I didn’t think enough about the books—that I just read and experienced without processing. I am excited to begin a new stage of reading: one with more careful thinking and analysis. Also, when you get to the basics of the group, I truly respect everyone and value their opinions. I know that each book chosen will be one that I should read. I look forward to having a group of people to discuss books with and to force myself out of my solitary reading. To have a camaraderie over books is a wondrous thing and I suspect I will learn a lot and discover books and authors I have never read.