The Lure of the Book Club

The other day I made the mistake of watching The Jane Austen Book Club.  Why was this such a grievous error on my part?  Because it made me want to be part of a book club.  And yes, some small part of me realizes that most book clubs are not going to be anything like what they are in the movie, but in a way, I still want it.  I think in a lot of ways it would be like English classes all over again, only without the papers and the grading and the sheer terror.  Maybe a small part of me just wants a book club because I want to go back to college.

As you may have noticed, I don’t actually know a lot about book clubs, but this is what I do know.  If I was in charge of my own book club, it would be the most awesome book club ever.  We would only ever read awesome books, and if the books turned out to be not awesome, we would find the humor in them and point it out gleefully over little appetizers with fancy names.  It would be the best party ever, and I’d be witty, and I’d finally get to talk about books with people who have read the exact same book I have.  And not some book that was picked just because it was a best seller, or because it has a reader’s guide for discussion in the back.  Nope, our books would be picked because whoever was in charge of picking the book that month had a genuine interest in the subject matter and wanted to share it with the world.  Does 50 Shades of Grey have a reader’s guide in the back?  No, you know, I don’t really need the answer to that.

Can I own a book club?  I mean, someone has to start them, right?  Is there such a thing as a president of the book club?  Are they voted in, or would I just get supreme power because I was the one who invented this lovely book club and decided where it was meeting and provided the tiny food and…

An Example of How my Book Club Would Work

Let’s suppose for instance, since I am dictator of this imaginary book club, we read Sins of the House of Borgia as one of our books.  Who am I kidding, it would be the first book we read.  I would finally get to gush about how awesome Ferrante was in this book.  Then someone on the opposite side of the room (I put them over there because I thought they had shady eyes and wanted them to stay away from me) politely rebuttals with “No, no, Ferrante is the lamest character ever.”  Then I would be all, “Dude, you just don’t get it.  Ferrante’s is Violante’s animus.  He is the male counterpart to her own struggles and demons, and while history despised him as a coward, Sarah Bower excellently uses him and Violante to demonstrate the courage it took to be different in a time where differences were abhorred.”

Call the guys with the pretty white coats; I just created an entire fictional book club conversation complete with appetizers and other participants.

Why Book Clubs and I Wouldn’t Work

I’m not delusional; there’s a reason why I haven’t started my own book club or even tried to join any one else’s.  For one thing, there’s the cost of the books.  I spend enough money on books for myself, I don’t need someone else telling me which one to buy.  (Of course, the beauty of starting my own would be picking books I already owned to get us started.)  But that’s only a minor problem.  No, if I joined someone else’s, I would quickly get kicked out, and if I started my own, any members I did manage to pick up would just slowly start gravitating towards someone else.  Like, another book club for instance.  I completely blame my two favorite professors for this, but I cannot get through any book without pointing out some sort of homoerotic subtext.  In a book that probably shouldn’t have any at all.  And I would curse those professors for making it so I can never fit into any book club, except I love both of them far too much for that.  Point is, I’d be the crazy girl that noone ever wanted to sit next to because she was always talking about how gay the characters were in any particular scene.  Case in point: my imaginary book club meeting centered around a discussion of a character who in that book was gay.  Yup.  That happened.

I would still like to be part of one, if only in my head.  I want to see around with a bunch of people and have smart conversations about books and maybe have some lessons about life and love along the way.    The reality is, however, I will be sitting at my house, reading alone, writing up reviews for here and on goodreads, and having conversations with myself about whether or not Ferrante is totally awesome.  Just for the record, he is.  I won that debate months ago.


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