Monday, February 15, 2010

Of Books and Women

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.


Kazzy said...

So funny you would mention Gaskell's North and South. I just got that a few weeks ago because a friend recommended it.

I read every book because I like to be pushed academically. It is good for me. And, like you, I enjoy sharing in stimulating discussion and hearing various translations of the experience of the same story. It is fascinating stuff.

And a dissenting voice is soooo needed in this setting. More power to ya.

Dona said...

Your comment makes me think that I should be sure to go to bookclub this month.

Anonymous said...

I never thought about that before! Maybe I should look into joining one... I tend to be... very... disagreeable. ;)

MaggieJo said...

I'm fine with disagreeing, but I don't know if I want to go to book club this time. I feel like I'm gearing up for a battle and I'm not sure which side I'm on.

Katy said...

There was a book that Denise recommended years ago and I just really hated it. I griped through the whole thing. When I was finally done, I said, in the presence of my family, "I'm finally done with that stupid book! Now I never have to read it again!" Sarah watched me and said dryly, "You never HAD to read it in the first place!"

Which made me laugh. She was right. In a way. But in another way, I was right, too.

It's funny because of what you said about other people's opinions. I hated that book, but when I got to bookclub and found out why Denise liked it, I could see it and it made me see the whole thing differently. Bookclub is very cool that way.

Ah. I remember the book: Meet the Mulvaney's.

(I still won't ever read it again!)

Katy said...

My bad, it was called, We Were the Mulvaneys.

Jennifer said...

Hey Robin!
This is my first time on your blog!

I hope the book isn't "Atlas Shrugged", for your sake. I HATED that book. I even refer to the author now as Satan.

K and D Roylance said...

There is that thing about opposition in all things, ya know.

I certainly don't get everything when I'm reading...I love the points you bring out that haven't even occured to me. Besides that book club is always more fun and stimulating when we don't all agree on everthing.