Book clubs. You either love them or you don’t. There was a time several years back when it was in vogue to be in a book club. If you weren’t in a book club, you were made to feel like you were missing out on an uber-intellectual experience.
I was in a book club once, for a few years. It was a lovely group of women and we read some very interesting books. Some of the books were ones that I never would have picked up on my own. After a few years, my interest waned. Instead of talking about the book, I found we talked about our children, which isn’t what I was looking for. Also, the pressure of completing a book by the monthly meeting became a strain and a dilemma – do I skip the meeting or do I attend and find out how the book ended? I couldn’t take the pressure.
When I quit, I felt oddly liberated. I went on a bit of a crusade, encouraging the women of the world to rise up and say “no” to the book club. We can be smart, savvy, popular and well-read and NOT be in a book club. I discovered that I don’t want to sit around for an hour and dissect a book, like an English class. The only questions I am interested in are, “did you like the book?” and “why or why not?” That’s it. The enjoyment of reading for me comes from actually reading the book, not discussing it. I have many friends who are in book clubs and love them – the book suggestions, the discussion, the company, the food. I get the socialization aspect. I just choose to do my socializing elsewhere.
Having gone rogue, I continue to be an avid reader. My friends and family recommend books in a very organic, informal way. However, this week I hit a “wall.” I cannot find a thing to read. I’ve recently gone to “the other side” and am reading mostly electronically on my trusty I-pad. I perused the library website and Amazon and haven’t found anything that excites me. It’s like watching television and not being able to find anything to watch, even though there are a gazillion channels to choose from.
Is this what happens when you get older? It’s hard to find a book with an original theme? Years ago I stopped reading books about abused women in the South. While I admire their strength and perseverance and their need to tell a story, I just don’t particularly want to read about them. Murdered and abused children is a draining topic. Holocaust-themed books, while important to remember, are brutal as well. I like travel books, especially reading about places where I do not particularly wish to visit – I prefer to read about them from the comfort of my first-world home. Maybe I should venture into biographies and more non-fiction.
I also enjoy adventure books, like Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Reading Into Thin Air made me feel as if I was actually climbing that mountain – something I would never, ever do. And Unbroken is about an American soldier serving during WWII and his experience as a pilot and a Japanese prisoner of war. Again, it was so well written and compelling that I had to get back to it to see what happened.
Another book I really enjoyed recently was What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarity. It’s about a suburban housewife who falls off her spin bike, hits her head, and forgets the last 10 years of her life. Interesting concept, beautifully written, and another compelling read.
Not everyone is a “reader.” I admire the people who can just freely state that, their head held high. There is no shame in not reading books. Some people seem so embarrassed when you ask if they are a reader. They make excuses for why they don’t read books – they read at work all day, they read newspapers and magazines. I am always reassuring them that it’s okay. I know they can read. It’s like watching television; some people do and some people don’t. Love yourself.
I’m sure I will find something soon to pique my interest in the book department. If you are so inclined, leave a comment with one book recommendation that you really loved. I would appreciate it. Maybe I’ll start “Susan’s Un- Book Club….”