The other day on Facebook, there was a book club thread. Some people loved them. Others said they were often unhappy with the book being discussed (decided by vote), people who monopolized the conversation, and the fact that some people never seemed to be prepared for the meetings (i.e., they hadn’t read the book up for discussion).
As an introvert, I seldom say anything during meetings. So, I’d be the one at the club meeting who seemed unprepared due to my silence even though I may well have read the book several times.
While I do review books that I like and that I want to draw to others’ attention, I really don’t like discussing books. Other than the introvert thing, I think this comes from being turned off with book discussions in lit classes where the prof had a view of the book and its symbolism that the rest of us were expected to kowtow to (or else).
Also, even though thousands of people are reading the books I’m reading, the process always seems personal. It’s not so much a figurative relationship between me and the characters as it is an emersion into the plot, theme, characters, and symbols. Somehow, sitting around with a bunch of people and talking about that emersion seems about as negative as talking with others about one’s sexual experiences.
I’ve never been invited to participate in a panel. Thank goodness. That sounds worse than a book club because many of the people on the panel will probably the gurus, MFA professors, and others who know everything. After some panellist says s/he was impressed with the deep archetypal symbolism of the last chapter, I’d be likely to say that I liked the protagonist’s shirt.
I was in an encounter group once in which each member was expected to say why they loved their spouse or significant other. My thought was, “that’s none of your business.” People talked about feelings of being soul mates, of rowing in the same direction through the problems of life, completing each other’s sentences, etc. I said, “I like the way my wife cooks grits.” The moderator said, “Is that it?” I said, “What else is there?”
You can count on me to deflect questions with intentionally lame comments because it’s better than blurting out info about feelings which I feel more comfortable keeping to myself. This is what I’d do in a book club. So, please don’t invite me to join up.
Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Special Investigative Reporter,” a mystery/satire that pokes fun at just about everyone.