Thursday, May 31, 2012

A reminder to myself

I met with my book club last night at the The Local--where we always meet in a cool little room. Aside from meeting in a bar, this club is different like any book club is different. But the main real differences are that the group is all men and only reads fiction. The only rules are that is has to be 350 pages or less and that none of the six of us can have read the book previously.

It's been good for me in a number of ways. Giving up control of my reading life and having discussions that otherwise wouldn't take place. I always come away feeling like I understand the book better and best of all it is fun. Reading gets pushed at people for any number of reasons: continued growth/education, interacting with a somewhat silent object, it's good for you, etc. Yet it should be fun--maybe not always--but mostly, in my opinion.

Last night's discussion involved Steve Erickson's "These Dreams Of You." Europa has a reputation of publishing international fiction and books that are a bit outside the norm. While I wouldn't really term this book experimental, it does do some interesting things in both its form and telling. I kept thinking, "This book is messy." And it is for both better, and sometimes, worse. Yet its emotion and contemporary cultural themes are very strong. Adoption, race, the housing crisis and music are just a few of its main themes.

While walking back to catch the lightrail I was reminded that some of the best discussions about books go so far beyond, "It was good." Or, "I didn't like it very much." The differences in opinion lead to discussion and the personal things we all bring to the book and its reading twist things up.

Before joining this group I didn't get the appeal of these groups. Many become set times to drink wine or catch up on the kids. And that's fine. Moreso, I was wrong in some of my assumptions. I enjoy all of our meetings regardless of how much I liked the book, which I almost always have. It's a common reading experience that I gain from. I can't wait to hear what our next book will be.

It's easy to pigeon-hole things you know next to nothing about. Are there lots of groups reading the same stuff because other people are? Sure. Are there groups where people don't read the books? Sure. I also get to see all the great stuff the book clubs we deal with are reading. The range and scope is broad. The time periods encompass most of the last 100 years. Poetry, fiction and all kinds of non-fiction. It's a good thing for Micawber's, to be sure. It is also good for many of the readers and it's been very good to me.

One meeting I missed was held at one member's house because Bruce Machart, the author of the book we read, skyped into the meeting to discuss the book and people loved it. I always tell people to mix it up--read a book and watch the film. Pair two similar or dissimilar books. Read a classic followed by something contemporary. Read something in translation. Do it all for the fun that can be had.

Europa's design department is always on point but this cover is striking. Many people asked me what I was reading at the park or on the train. Our server last night went home with my copy. Maybe she'll read it with her book club.

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