Friday, July 23, 2010

Book Club! Or: how I learned to stop grumbling and love the book

As I mentioned yesterday, I had book club last night for a book that I HATED. I was interested to see how the club would go, since the people in the club all work with books and can sometimes have loftier (*cough*pretentious*cough*) ambitions for their reading materials. It was one of those books that I would classify as "literary," so I knew I would be in the minority of people who didn't enjoy the book.

I went armed for battle, gentle readers, with my weapon store of reasons why I didn't enjoy the book: too many tangents that detracted from the main point, overwriting, no chapters (who DOES that!?! It was sheer madness! Oh, wait. Tangents), a somewhat unlikeable cast of characters, etc. All of these things I happily presented as my reasons for disliking the book. Some people agreed, some people disagreed, some people expounded on my reasoning, others refuted. Good points were made all around (as were dumb ones, you know who you were).

But my take home from the night was this: I enjoyed the book more than I thought I did. Once the discussion started swirling and others in the club made comments that brought new insight, I realized the author had put a great deal more depth into the storyline progression and the main character's motivations than I thought. And while it didn't increase my reading enjoyment (I was done by that time, obviously), it did help me appreciate the work that went into the book and how the author had accomplished what he had accomplished. Without the book club discussion, I wouldn't have achieved the insight and appreciation I have now. And as a writer myself, it's essential to recognize the impact a story has on its reader.

So book club had a positive outcome for me, and added a few more weapons to my writing arsenal. Plus we inevitably fell into talking about The Hunger Games, which made me squee like a fan girl, especially when I read this article this morning.

Is anyone else in a book club? Do you enjoy it? What books are you reading this month?

And as always: a muy happy Friday to the lot of you.


Jaydee Morgan said...

This was a very interesting read - and it's cool how you learned you liked it more than you thought.

I'm not in a book club but this has me seeing the benefits :)

Veronica Roth said...

This happened to me in every writing/lit class I was in in college. I never liked the books we read, but then we discussed them and I found that I really appreciated them, or that I liked more about them than I thought I did. Maybe literary fiction is digested best in a large group!

Lydia Kang said...

Huh, interesting. At first I misread your post. I thought you said you hated the book club! But it sounds like it went really well. I don't belong to a book club, but I like that it could help me see things I might not otherwise appreciate.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I've never been in a book club, and probably won't join one either. I'm afraid of having to read a book I can't stomach. ;)

I'm excited about The Hunger Games news. :D

beth said...

This literally made a huge grin spread on my face. It reminds me of a time when I'd assigned a book to a student, and he hated the book. He came in looking for a fight about what a crap book it was, but we got to talking, and an hour later he walked out liking it--or respecting it, at least.

This totally made my day. Thanks for reminding me of it!

(PS: a little off-topic and a shameless blurb--Hunger Games is going to be the League of Extraordinary Writer's Book Club pick next month!)

Kimberly Franklin said...

I'm not apart of any book club, but I read all of the time. Actually, there are a few girls at work and we all share books. So, I guess that could kind of be like a book club. I love talking about the books once we've all read them. :)

Christina Lee said...

This happened to me at my YA book club last month! Right on! But appreciation for the time it took, writing, process etc. is what I always need to remember!