Thursday, March 19, 2009

Book Club - You Win Some, You Lose Some

Caffeine & Toothpicks

After years of being invited to join my friend’s book club, I made the leap of faith. “Is it that big of a deal?” you may ask. It was for me.

As a person who likes to read, the idea began its appeal about two years into my role of stay-at-home mom. Flexibility made me believe that reading a book and joining a group discussion should be possible. A second pregnancy, two children in diapers, broken sleep and breastfeeding around the clock killed that belief.

Throughout the next six years, my friend continued to ask me if I’d like to join her book club, twelve women who live in our subdivision. In 2006, I took the plunge. I wanted to branch out into other genres; ninety percent of what I’d been reading was non-fiction and mostly autobiographies. And, even if my husband was not home by 7:30 (his usual), I was prepared to get a babysitter.

It’s now twenty-three books/meetings later, and I’ve read twenty-one completely. The two that I did not finish were because of mismanagement of time, or just life preventing me. I considered myself a book club success until…ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE! I did not finish it. No amount of caffeine could have kept me alert while reading it. Maybe I should have tried toothpicks in my eyes.

What happened? Other books were challenging, but finished. Was it because the author is a Nobel Prize winner and considered by some a literary great? “Hey, I’ve read some of the classics!” Ok…not many, but some.

A little redemption for me though – I get to the meeting and learn that seven of the nine women there did not finish the book either. One friend joked and questioned herself by saying, “Have I reached the point in life where I can’t finish reading a book?”

The two friends that read the book were very impressive. They discussed the book in great detail and depth as the rest of our heads went back and forth like we were watching a tennis match. We interjected thoughts and facts here and there in an attempt to contribute. One friend looked queasy as they discussed the morals of the characters; I felt her pain.

Periodically, there are books that I struggle to finish. My husband asks me, “Why do you keep reading the book?” For book club, I want to finish so that I can actively participate in the discussion, but why at other times? Am I challenging my patience or intellect?

At the meeting, another friend and I felt that we were wasting our time reading the book and that it was taking away enjoyment we could have been experiencing if we were reading something else.

My book club friends are a diverse, intelligent group of women. We’ve had easy books; we’ve had tough books. We have differed in our opinions, as with any other aspect of life. This book selection: some liked it, most did not. You win some, you lose some. No big deal.

How much of a book do you read before deciding to continue or stop?


Judy Thomas said...

I read at least a chapter before I call it quits on a book, unless the writing is so bad or annoying that I cannot make it that far. BTW, I loved 'One Hundred Years of Solitude', read it years ago, but do not think I could read it now. It seems to me that certain books of best at certain times of life, and I do not think I would have the patience for GGM's mysticism and fatasticism at this stage of my life. Is it a book for the young? The flexible? Or am I being silly?

Anita said...

JUDY-You make a good point. It is possible that I would have had more patience with the book years ago. I seem to be in a phase where I want quick results. In the case of the book: got tired of "trying to like it, or "get it." Actually, the going was good for about 1/4 of the book, but then started going downhill from there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it. I hope I'll get some more input from others.

JennyD said...

Anita please don't feel bad about 100 years. I have 3 half finished books on the shelf now. I think it's alright to say "I am not going to finish this now". Of the 3 unfinished books I will most likely go back and finish only two of them. The third is a biography so poorly written it will probably end up at the Good will. I think the photos in the book were the only good thing about it.

Off topic (as usual) are those coffee stirrers or double point knitting needles in your photo?

Anita said...

JENNY-Those are toothpicks - the ones that I needed to keep my eyes open. I guess they do look kinda like needles or pick-up sticks or something. :-) Maybe I need a caption...and, know that you mention unfinished books, maybe I need to toss the ones on my night table too!