Because I seem to be one of those (un)fortunate people who needs books around all the time in order to stave off a massive anxiety attack—one of my worst fears is getting stuck in an elevator with nothing to read (Okay, you have your fears, and I have mine. Don’t judge.)—and because, clearly, my job doesn’t provide enough proximity to and discussion of literature, I belong to a neighborhood book club. This, of course, is in addition to our very own DGLM book club which happens six or seven times a year and which is the source of great infighting, churlishness, resentment and lively debate. Oh, and there’s a lot of name calling and dissing of each other’s literary tastes as well.
My point, and I do have one, is that I think book clubs are swell. I love hanging with my neighbors over cheese and wine or elaborate appetizers (made by some of our more gourmet minded members) and chatting about why we loved, hated or were ambivalent about that month’s selection. What we read and how we discuss it gives me wonderful insights into the books, but also my friends. Every title inevitably leads to a conversation about someone’s past, dreams, fantasies, fears and just as inevitably showcases how much we all have in common despite our very different personalities and experiences. From a business point of view, I’ve learned invaluable lessons about what people outside our business like to read and why and I’ve come to understand that we publishing folks are sometimes a bit too insular in our thinking about what constitutes great literature.
This piece from the Huff Post made me think about our neighborhood’s current book club selection, Mary Stewart’s Nine Coaches Waiting (which was actually suggested to me by our wonderful client Anne Stuart). Written over 50 years ago, the book is a master class in romantic suspense and as fresh and engaging as any read from today’s bestseller lists. If you haven’t discovered this author yet, get on it!
What do you all think about book clubs? Do you belong to one (or more)? Do you find that they change the way you think about the books you read and the whole process of choosing them?