Sunday, 29 May 2011

Book club musing

I'm a member of a book club at my local bookstore, Avid Reader.

Every month Avid publishes a magazine reviewing books but also inviting writers to contribute material on the monthly theme. The last one focused on the Brisbane floods, in particular the impact on the local community. I contributed a couple of pieces which I had posted on this blog.

Last week I received an email from Krissy at the shop asking if I'd like to contribute to the next one. The theme: 'Book Clubs'. She sent me a series of questions to answer and I thought that, as I have been a bit tardy with my blog lately, that this might interest a few people. so here are the questions and my answers:

1 Which bookclub are you a member of and how long have you been in the club?

Austrtalian Book Club first Tuesday evening of the month.

2 Can you remember a particular discussion that stands out from one of the bookclubs? Something funny or aweful or divisive or a transformative moment that changed your mind about a particular book? Tell us what happened.

Most interesting night was the night Justice Michael Kirby was speaking on the back deck. We were an embarrassment to Avid in our jeans and with a bottle of plonk being shared around our circle, so we were hidden upstairs in the store-room. We organized ourselves with some crackers and cheese (courtesy of Avid) balanced on a packing crate and found some seating, some on chairs, others on benches. Someone offered to sit on the floor. Fiona popped a bottle of red and then apologised and left us to ourselves. We were a bit miffed about being abandoned in favour of Justice Michael but soldiered on.

This group of five mature adults were suddenly faced with facilitating our own discussion. Or just drinking. We had a great time and, as is always the case, the absence of one changed the dynamics of all and we found ourselves having the same conversation but in a different way.

Fiona had to throw us out eventuually. And we didn't regret missing Justice Michael at all.

I can't even remember the book we were disecting.

3 Why did you initially join a bookclub? Why do you stay?

I was interested in connecting with other readers and possibly writers. I was also keen to connect with local community activities as I was moving from full time to part time work. I wanted to feed my creative side after too many years of work,which I loved but which dominated my life.

I 've been a member since it started which I think is about 12 months.

I keep coming back for a couple of reasons. Firstly I like the imposed discipline requiring me to read at least a book a month. Secondly I like the social element - meeting a small group of people over a glass of wine where the personalities emerge over time. And we laugh.

4 What book are you currently reading for bookclub?

'Bereft' by Chris Womersley

5 What is your favourite book that you have read for bookclub?

Favourite has probably been 'Me and Mr Booker' by Cory Taylor

but the one which has stayed with me has been Ashley Hay's 'The Body in the Clouds' which had a magic realism quality and spanned the period from the first days of the colony to the present; a series of parallel stories all built around Sydney Harbour and the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

6 Are your favourite books the best to discuss? Or are there other factors that make other books better to talk about?

The most interesting discussions have been where members of the group had widely different responses to the book of the month. In that case each of us had to pause and try and understand what others saw in the book and be challenged to articulate our point of view. Much more interesting than all agreeing with each other.


Anonymous said...

Last month I joined a Reading Group, it was our inaugral meeting so we were all busy introducing ourselves etc I thought it all a little strained as the group dynamics hadn't sorted itself, no-one stepping up to be Chief Bull-Goose-Loony yet. We decided on our first book (which took 10 minutes longer to decide open than it should have done) and meet to discuss it next week ... "The End of The Affair" by Graham Greene.

Enjoyed reading about yours!

Kathe W. said...

we just read "The Postmistress" - which obviously not all liked- (too sad) and now we are reading "Still Alice"
both books I give a thumbs up.
I enjoy our group because no one hogs the discussion or orders us around if we get derailed! We just have fun reading and talking.