A few years ago, my friend Sharon decided we should start a book club. After a few member tiffs that resulted in some drop-outs, we now have a regular group of 6. We meet at a restaurant, sometimes related to the theme of the book. For example, this month we read Interpreter of Maladies, which I have to say is one of the best books I've ever read. It's a collection of short stories written by an Indian woman. Well, I think it's a woman. With those Indian names, you can't tell. But anyway, we will meet at an Indian restaurant to "discuss" the book.
The reason for the quotes around "discuss" is that our book club doesn't discuss books. At one of the first meetings we had, someone had picked a book that had a list of questions at the back of the book conducive to getting members to discuss books. We tried it, but it felt awkward. So our discussion is generally limited to "I liked it" or "I didn't like it" and then we go on to discuss what our kids are doing, trips we've taken, foods we've cooked...you name it. Anything other than the book.
Well, I guess there was one exception - and that was Augusten Burroughs' Running With Scissors. That one was worthy of a discussion if only to ask if what he wrote about could really be true - could anyone really have lived that life? And, we took that one a step further by taking a field trip downtown to hear Augusten speak. That was cool. I even went on to read two more of Augusten's (I feel like I'm intimate enough with the man to be on a first name basis) books Dry and Magical Thinking.
At our last meeting, we discussed other books we had read. One lady in the club is so annoying, cause she's read like every book ever published. I love to read, but my reading is limited to bedtime, where I read about 3 pages, and hubby comes in later and removes the book from my hand, carefully marking my place, and turns my lamp off. This lady claims she reads so much cause that's all she does - her house is a mess but her books are read (well my house is a mess too, but my books aren't read!). Sometimes I think our book club members don't even read the books but just join us for dinner cause (1) it's a nice night out, and (2) the chooser of the book went to so much effort to find a date we could all agree on that they felt obliged to come. This kind of bugs me too cause I'm available like every night and everyone else seems to have such busy lives.
There are two cool things about the book club. First, we have an annual party where one member makes the best potato pancakes I've ever eaten, and we have a $10 gift exchange that is really quite fun. The second cool thing about the book club that doesn't really discuss books is that it forces us to read books we never would have looked at. Sometimes a member will announce her pick at the meeting and we inwardly roll our eyes and think oh no, that sounds like a terrible book. But I have never read a book in the book club that I didn't like.