Once again, it’s been almost a year (to the day!) since I’ve posted anything. I’m sure y’all are tired of hearing that I’m going to get better about blogging, so I won’t say it again and we can just pick everything back up like old friends.
As the most vocal, but by no means avid, reader among my friends, I frequently get asked questions like: “I’m looking for a new book, do you have any suggestions?” or “I just finished reading this book, what should I read next?” As much as I LOVE these questions–I feel so much pressure answering them! When I recommend a book to someone, I feel like I’m recommending one of my (hypothetical) children for a job. I want to make sure the book is something the person will love or at the very least something that will make them think differently. I welcome criticism about the books I recommend, but at the same time feel hurt and–yes, I’ll say it–offended! when someone says they didn’t like the book.
Surprisingly, this happened most often when I recommended books I hadn’t even read yet. I started telling people to read books on my to-read list so that someone could tell me first hand how it was, and when they came back with a less-than-spectacular opinion, I felt my heart break a little inside. I would immediately get defensive and say, “Ok, well, I’ll just have to read it for myself and decide.” And of course, as any book lover knows, it’s almost impossible to get to everything on your to-read list–especially when you are told that books on your to-read list aren’t worth reading.
I also found myself recommending the same books to different people without really considering the person just because I wanted to have someone to talk to about the book. A few years ago, ANYONE could ask me what book they should read next and I would immediately reply with fervor, “Have you read The Circle? You should read The Circle; it will change your life.” I just really wanted to talk to someone about this book! (By the way, have you read The Circle? You really should; it will change your life!)
So, to help combat my feelings of guilt and anger about my book recommendations, a few months ago I decided to start a small, all-online book club with some of my close friends and family. I didn’t really know how to start or what I was doing or if anyone would even be interested, but I bit the bullet and took a shot.
Book clubs are AWESOME. We’ve only had one meeting, and have only read 2 books together, but it has really changed the way I approach reading, reviewing, and recommending books. For a geek like me, it feels like I’m back in high school or college and I love that. It encourages me to approach the book from a more critical and analytical mindset because I know I’m going to be discussing it with a group of smart women (right now it is just women) with different viewpoints, mindsets, and life experiences. I read deeper and I feel deeper about what I’m reading.
I must say, doing all-online isn’t the best. The members live all over Texas and a few live out of state, so at the moment it is the most convenient way to meet up. But there is something to be said about a face-to-face coffee talk. Hopefully one day we can get there!
The first book we read was Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things. I saw it on a few must-read lists for 2017, and after my boss read it for her book club and enjoyed it, I knew it would be great first book for us. It centers on the trial of an African-American labor and delivery nurse who is charged with a serious crime after treating a neo-Nazi’s child (I know, too relevant). It deals with racism, both the obvious and not-so obvious kind, and makes you question your own actions and ideas. Book Scootin’ Boogie (or club) really enjoyed it and it led to an intelligent and meaningful discussion. I highly recommend it, especially amid today’s political climate.
The second book we read was Jill Santopolo’s The Light We Lost. I had the pleasure of meeting and briefly working with Jill Santopolo for our book publishing week during the Columbia Publishing Course back in 2015. When I heard she was publishing a new book, it immediately went on my to-read list! It centers on the love story between Lucy and Gabe who met as seniors at Columbia University on September 11, 2001. We haven’t had a chance to discuss this book yet, but it was a great summer read and was nearly impossible to put down once I started reading it. Love, lust, loss–what more could you want in a summer book?
We haven’t officially chosen our next club book yet, but I have a few ideas in the works. If anyone is looking for a great way to meet people or a fun way to get through their to-read list, I highly recommended starting or joining a book club. The wine is a nice perk, too. 😉