As the world’s most instinctively contrary human being (so contrary that upon writing that I thought “Well, surely not the world’s most…”), I’m not really the best at Obligation Reading. But apparently I’m also a masochist, because in addition to actively pursuing a job where I read for a living, thus extending 18 years of school required reading right on through to retirement, I also started a book club amongst my friends specifically to force myself to read things I might not otherwise choose. Well, that and to exploit my friends for market research. 95% of the time, on seeing the selection, my brain says, “But I don’t wanna!” Even with books that are actually on my very long to read list. I have to actively remind myself that I do wanna. I mean, I might even have already bought it.
Such is the conundrum I’ve faced with the selection for this weekend’s book club meeting: Kate Atkinson’s Life After Life. I was already curious about it when my friend Nell picked it. I hadn’t bought it yet, but I’d added it to a To Buy list I keep on my phone (for emergencies). And not only that, it’s published by Reagan Arthur, who has excellent taste, so that’s an obvious point in its favor. And yet…I haven’t even peeked at the cover page. I bought it and immediately lent it out to my friend Rachael to buy myself some time. I’ve read a million manuscripts and five published books since purchasing it a little more than a month ago. I’ve carried it to and from City Island in the Bronx, Red Bull Arena in New Jersey, and a wedding weekend in Washington, DC, without so much as a glance at the cover copy. Even though I want to read it and hear it’s great and am sure I’ll enjoy it and a group of people I convened for the sole purpose of reading books and discussing them together will be meeting up on Sunday with this in hand, I just…haven’t. My random and arbitrary stubborn streak has kept me away.
So I did the right thing and bowed out of book club for this round. No sooner had I done so then my friend and fellow book club participant Andrea posted this video on Facebook, so it’s probably for the best I didn’t try to fake it:
(In case you’re wondering, I’m the one who aggressively makes people write their questions down. Which is annoying, but hey, I still have never shot anyone, right?)
P.S. RIP Summer Fridays. We hardly knew ye.