Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Book club girl

For the last year or so I have been trying to become a book club girl or put  it simply attend book club meetings.  Maybe in between the summer reads it's a good moment to look back at my experiences on the way to becoming a book club girl. 

Ever since I have heard about book clubs I have wanted to join one.  It's one of those things that sounds so nice if you can say about yourself "I belong to a book club" (makes you feel more so much more sophisticated and intellectual, but ouch is that my real motivation?). 

It is a  wonderful way to be reading regularly. I love reading, but it does not mean I am committed to it. I often choose the easy way and settle for reading blogs and journal articles because to actually read a book I need to make an effort to go to the library or bookshop (or in the very least put an order on a book on-line).  And so attending book clubs meetings is in a practice of self-discipline and commitment. The book clubs I belong have an easygoing framework. You don't have to announce you will come beforehand, you are free to come to all meetings or only some. There is a lot of freedom in this, but then life often gets in the way. Even if a meeting is once a month or every other two weeks often something comes up. So I must say that coming to the meetings is a already a challenge. 

There are some things about book clubs that are as I had imagined. It is  amazing  to have this time with people who want to discuss literature for hours, are happy to dwell on the characters' motivations (or the authors) and come together just for the pleasure of intellectual discussion. How often in our hectic world do feel that just to meet up and talk about something is purposeful? 

Hoverer, I did not think that being with book clubs with their seemingly relaxed format (we sit in a cafe talk and laugh) could create a tense atmosphere.  In the book clubs I go to there is such a variety of opinions, of readership experience that our discussions can be quite heated. It is not that people are unkind, that sometimes it is unbelievable how a book can arouse opposite opinions of love and hatred. So do the characters and their motivations. 

This is definitely a place to practice self-expression and self-confidence. Especially that usually there is usually one or two people who have a very strong personality, persuasive tone of voice and radical views on what is literary value. They are simply intimidating. I am one of those readers that has somewhat of old fashioned tastes- I like good, innocent characters, happy endings and nostalgic ambiance. The "sophisticated readers" as I call them will often complain and criticize what I enjoy about literature.  If there is no postmodern fragmentation, ambiguity, formal experiments, a sombre (aka realistic portrait) of the human nature they consider the books uninteresting. In those moments I begin to question my tastes and choices and my voices becomes somewhat timid. 

But in fact the real debate begins when from the plot, characters and style we move on to discussing the themes and problems depicted in the book.We  all bring in our life experiences and confront about our values and systems of conviction. You become even more vulnerable because you don't hide behind the book any longer but say what you think. 

Here I must say that there is something magical about literature that you can end up discussing everything you want. After all isn't that what books are also for? In the book club you don't just discuss books, you discuss the world. Literature becomes alive.

No comments:

Post a Comment