Wednesday, September 15, 2010
A few months ago I gave a talk at a local library. When I asked if there were any book clubs in the area, I was told about an interesting one that has been around for over ten years.
Two things I like:
1) They meet in a bar.
2) They don't read an assigned or chosen book. Instead, everyone brings the books they've read in the past month and tells the group about them. They swap books and give away books. They rave about books, and they slam books. I've been to two meetings, and the average number of books discussed in a single meeting is around 30. Not sure how many beers are consumed.
What I've learned about myself:
I will never again read a book as a reader. This is pretty much understood by all authors, but it really hit home for me as I sat among these women who were so passionate about books. Even though I'm a writer, even though I immerse myself in the world of writing almost every waking hour, I felt like an alien in this group of book lovers. Wonderful, interesting, friendly people I felt I had nothing in common with. Isn't that odd? Me? Someone who has been writing for twenty-five years? Someone who started writing because I loved books?
Since the meeting, I've tried to analyze my feeling of alienation. I look at fiction from a totally different perspective. I read to get the feel of a novel and check out the writer's voice. And here is the scary part: I rarely finish a novel unless I'm reading to supply a cover quote. I don't need to read the whole thing, because finding out what happens isn't why I read. I read to check out the book, to get a feel of the author's voice and the mood and tone of the story. Even novels I love go unfinished. Because that sample is all I need to answer my questions.
Will I go to another meeting? I don't think so. It made me a little sad, but I think it was more about a poor fit. I love hanging out with other writers, talking about books, talking about the business, but I can't be a reader. Not even for an evening.