Thursday, September 6, 2012

Book Clubs

Today was filled with lots of activity and appointments that simply had to be kept. Since I knew the day was going to be crazy, I got an early start, knowing that I needed to knock a few things off my to-do list before leaving the house for the morning. I decided I needed some incentive to get things done, so I made a deal with myself. Once I finished the first three things on my list, I could spend the rest of the morning reading until I had to leave. I didn't even get to pick up a book. That made me very sad.....

And my sadness grew as I heard a radio announcer wishing everyone "Happy Read a Book Day" ('s celebrated on September 6). On September 8, we'll also celebrate International Literacy Day. I have been desperate to dive into a book all day long, but didn't have the time to spare. I have been thinking about how much I love books and how I desperately desire to be a part of a book club.

One of the primary reasons that I have been a student for so long is that I really enjoy getting to interact with books. It's not just reading the book that is so enthralling though. I love the conversation that ensues when a group of people come together and bring their various experiences and opinions to the table as they consider the implications of the written word. I couldn't imagine not having time to read while I was in my undergraduate program. So what did I do? I declared a second major in English literature. I knew I wasn't the best student in the program, but I knew that I was passionate about the material.

The social activity I would most enjoy participating in on a regular basis would be a reading group. I've had no luck finding one though. I've joined groups at the local library and area bookstores, but have always been disappointed because the members either didn't commit to participate regularly or the group only dove into a single genre of literature. When I participated in an office reading group, things never got off the ground. We tried to meet during our lunch break, but the demands of work kept calling us back. We were all too exhausted to consider committing to an additional night during the week.

Some have suggested that I start my own reading group. I'll admit that I have tried, but it still didn't provide what I was looking for. A church book club limited material that could be included due to language and topics that might offend some members. A group of performing artists is a rehearsal (read social party) waiting to happen....and there was little discussion of the material read.

Oprah's Book Club was the closest thing I've ever found. I enjoyed the wide variety of books selected and appreciated the passionate discussion that would normally occur. I missed the human interaction and building relationships though. Oprah has now reorganized her book club as version 2.0 which all occurs online. Everyone has the opportunity to communicate via Twitter and other social media, but the intimacy is lost.

I was intrigued by one of Oprah's latest suggestions for starting a book club. She suggested reading as a family and discussing the book as part of your family get-togethers. I see how this could be really fun in many families. Probably won't work for my situation though....while many in my family enjoy reading (and others do it just to keep their brain active), we're not reading for insight as much as we are for the entertainment value. There's only so much I can say about why I enjoyed a book without wanting to consider the moral, political, and philosophical implications.

So what is it that I'm really looking for? Ideally, I would find a group of 8-12 other readers who come from different backgrounds, professions, spiritual journeys, and education levels. I envision men and women who share a love for reading, a desire to think deeply about issues, and a willingness to listen and speak honestly without constantly being offended when/if they disagree. I don't want to be forced to be politically correct....especially if my opinions are not PC! We might share food together....but the focus is really on the book.

And, oh the books!  How wonderful would it be to read a self-help book followed by the latest best-seller. Then we dive into the heart of a classic American novel. Throw in a little philosophical writing and maybe even some religious (possibly non-Christian?) texts and you have a recipe for exciting and intellectually invigorating conversation.

If any of you have suggestions about where I can find a book club in the area, I'd love to hear from you! Until I find what I'm looking for, I'll keep dreaming about the day I'm able to participate on a regular basis and keep reading for my own pleasure and intellectual stimulation.  Now I suppose it's time I give in and spend some quiet time with my book.  Scarlett and Rhett, I'm coming to Tara for a visit now!

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