I joined my first book club about 12-13 years ago. They were all the rage with Oprah handpicking her favorite books that would soar to the top seller list. My kids were in grade school and I was working part time and doing some traveling with work. I was a dedicated member. The book list was issued six months in advance and I went at it reading each book right along. Reading when traveling was a great and a stress reliever. All was well until someone started tinkering with the book selection and then someone suggested that it wasn't fair that there weren't enough copies at the public library and then 'who decided to pick these selections so far in advance because no one could remember the details of the plot?' Well all those opinions just messed with my mojo. I am a planner and I loved having the list in advance so I could check off reading those books and be ready to go when it was book club day.
And then the final straw hit. Someone criticized my book selection. I selected Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor. At the time I had been listening to him on NPR on some weekends when I had been driving home from Wyoming. I was curious about the author and his writing style and experiencing his writing by listening to it was quite captivating. Well the book was hard to read. So many adjectives. I had to imagine him reading the work in order to capture the story. But I muddled through it and I learned something about writers. Well the book club hostess flat out stated she hated the book and hated his radio show. I was crushed. Then this same woman later berated me over the telephone for calling her at such an inconvenient moment in her home. Needless to say I didn't feel accepted and bowed out of book club.
Soon thereafter I was asked to join another book club with another group of women who were a little bit younger than myself. I enjoyed sharing my perspective on books and I faithfully read the books, despite several women claiming that had been too busy to read due to child caring obligations and fatigue. Needless to say they gleefully delved into the wine. It started out really well, as did my first book club adventure. But then we read The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald and that straw broke again. The woman, who will be known as Joyce, who had invited me to join this book club, was very vocal in her opinions. On this particular night there was mostly drinking and appetizers and talking occurring. Then the book selector and hostess proclaimed 'Well we really should talk about the book' and Joyce proclaimed 'I don't know why The Great Gatsby 'is listed as the best book of the 20th century I hated it.' And just like that - no one eeked a word about The Great Gatsby.
Joining a book club was my naive attempt at thinking that book lovers and readers were people who wanted their minds opened to consider another's perspective. And even if it was uncomfortable it was still my way to understand, accept and be respectful of another person's point of view though it be different than mine. My mistake was assuming that my respect for others transferred to the rest of the group. This is probably why I don't have a large group of friends either. I want to be myself and I don't want to be picked on for my beliefs.
Soon thereafter I was invited to join yet another book club. I politely said 'no' that I was estranged from two book clubs and I had no further interest in joining when so many issues surrounded reading books. I have ran into former book club members who say that 'You should come back' or 'I'll call you with the next book selection'. But I never got the call and I didn't call either. I want to keep the fond memories of my first book club experience - I belonged to a group and we had a common bond - the love of reading. It has faded.
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