the reading group experience

I started a reading group a couple of months back. I had joined a book club prior, but after signing up through Facebook and Shelfari I’d been mostly non-committal. I guess my insecurities have kept me from getting invested in the group — the active members all seem so well-read while the only claims I can make are that: (1) I simply love being able to enjoy a good book, and (2) I can’t  seem to help myself from accumulating books faster than I can read them!

Then I found this novel at a second-hand bookstore, called The Reading Group, which talks about a group of lady friends/acquaintances who get together every month to discuss a book. I didn’t like the novel very much and have not been able to finish it, but it gave me ideas.

Thus I decided just to make a call among friends/acquaintances, for whoever would like to join me in a group to read and leisurely discuss a book every month or so. I figured that doing this with friends would help ensure a non-threatening environment, where people won’t have to feel pressured to appear learned or to make technical or intellectual comments during discussions. Several signified interest, and before long at least 6 people gave their recommendations for our first book, for which our only parameter was that it should make for light reading. We wouldn’t want to blow our brains out before our group even gets to take off. After putting the titles in small pieces of paper and drawing lots, we ended up with:

This was my second Gaiman novel, and I definitely enjoyed it more than Coraline which I felt ended quite too easily and abruptly.

In case you haven’t read it, I won’t give any spoilers, but let me just share my favorite quote from this book:

‘And there are always people who find their lives have become so unsupportable they believe the best thing they could do would be to hasten their transition to another plane of existence.’
‘They kill themselves, you mean?’ said Bod. […]
‘Indeed.’
‘Does it work? Are they happier dead?’
‘Sometimes. Mostly, no. It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you. If you see what I mean.’

Anyway, going back to the reading group…

Our first meet-up happened a couple of weeks ago, and it was fun! Only four of us got to attend, but the discussion was cheery, mostly light, substantial at some points (with one of us turning out to be an authority on this book!), but on the whole simply an earnest conversation about what we thought of the book and the genre, our favorite parts and the quotes we particularly liked. We also enjoyed having had our book discussion in a library-cafe, which is a rare find! It’s actually the kind of place I would loooove to own and operate…but let’s reserve this topic for another post.

We’ve already drawn lots for our September book, and this one’s not so light: Man Asian Literary Prize- and Palanca Award-winning novel, Ilustrado. Can we finish it in time for our end-of-month scheduled meet-up? Or will we need to extend our reading time?

We’ll see how this goes 🙂

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