What is book club?
My eleven-year old asked me this recently. She asked if we each take turns and just read to a certain spot like in her reading circles at school. I smiled as I imagined us reading Gaskell's North and South together as a group. If we read for two hours each meeting it would take us about a year to finish the book.
So I explained to her that we each read the chosen book on our own and then get together to discuss it. She seemed to get it.
This question was asked because of my griping. I am not thrilled with the book chosen for book club this month. I keep referring to it as my homework. I keep complaining about having to read it.
And I have been told more than once by more than one person I live with, "So don't read it then."
But I can't. I have to read it.
I don't always read the books. Sometimes they just don't interest me or I can't get one in my hands soon enough. Or I had other things to do that were more important to me. This time I just flat out disagree with the author of the book.
But my reason for attending book club is not what it used to be. I used to go as an excuse to get out of my house for the evening. Or to spend some time with adults having real conversations. And those things still apply.
However, my main drive for being part of book club now is to share in others' opinions. To not only be exposed to literature that I wouldn't pick on my own, but to see how others see what we read. How they feel. What they learned. Not only do I grow as a person, but I get to know my neighbors so much better by looking through their windows on the world.
And I have been told that I am an important part of book club precisely for the reason that I am often the dissenting opinion. They want to see things differently, too.
Imagine that. I have finally found a place where my disagreeability is a good thing.