Reasons To Love In-Person Book Clubs

Book club meetings aren’t only for college students, right? In fact, they are much more fun when you don’t have to attend after a week of classes, books, textbooks and endless reading assignments. At least that’s how it was in my college days.

So, I recently joined a book club in my area for one reason. Step away from the computer and meet other book lovers in person. Readers only.

Granted, I don’t know if there are other writers among us. Last night was my second meeting.

But if there are writers in the group, they’re doing a good job discussing the book with no mention of POV switches, too much exposition, over-the-top similes calling attention to the writing at the detriment of the story, etc. Issues many writers raise when analyzing a book.

What have I learned after two meetings?

The story comes first.

Moreover, it is  a discussion of the story by relating it to our times, and the possibility of similar events happening today/now. Easy analogy since the last selection was George Orwell’s “1984.”

I’m sure book lovers remember that Orwell warned of the terrifying dangers men may create upon themselves in search of a utopian society. With drones and privacy issues all over the news these days, you can imagine the lively discussion we had last night. Great energy going around the table.

The book before that, one I didn’t finish reading, was “Submission,” by Amy Waldman, a book about the 9/11 memorial and controversy surrounding an American Muslim architect. 

Ms. Waldman is a former journalist — co-chief of the South Asia bureau for the New York Times — and clearly knows her subject matter. But the story read like an article filled with great one-liners. Definitely something written by a person trained to gather, write, and present the news, rather than a fiction writer. Hey, just one more opinion in the pile of many.

The likes and dislikes were clearly drawn for that one. Very little middle ground, and that made for an animated, sometimes loud, but always polite discussion.

This month’s selection looks promising: “The Orphan Master’s Son,” by Adam Johnson. A story set (at least partially) in North Korea.

All three books are relevant in today’s world and news, but maybe all great stories are to some extent. Or should be.

Have they been intentionally selected as such?  I don’t know. What I do know is that I’m looking forward to next month’s meeting and another lively discussion. 

So, are you part of a book club? If so, what are some of your experiences?

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4 responses to “Reasons To Love In-Person Book Clubs

  1. I am :) Part of my university’s book-club actually, and you’re right, although some of us do write, most of the discussion focuses on the story.

  2. What an interesting idea. I’m in a critique group that meets weekly and I’m in an online book club that is solely made up of writers, but going to a book club as a reader? How novel is that :-)

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