“And we talk about the chosen book for a few obligatory minutes before we move on to the part of the club I think most of us really look forward to, which is not talking about the book.” – Adam Sternbergh
I’m all in favor of book clubs, especially if they’re discussing my book. If asked, I’d even be happy to be a guest at such meetings. However, I have never belonged to a book club. I tell myself and those who have asked me to join one that it’s a time issue.
After reading, “Between the Sheets, Why you should resist the lure of book clubs,” by Adam Sternbergh at WalrusMagazine.com, I’m thinking the time factor may not be my only reason for not participating in one of these groups; an intimacy issue may enter into the equation as well.
Mr. Sternbergh starts off by saying:
"Reading is arguably the second-most intimate human activity, and, as with the first-most intimate human activity, there are people who will try to convince you that it’s better done in groups. These groups are called book clubs. I am in one. Maybe you are, too. If so, here’s why we’ve both made a terrible mistake."
He writes about the good side of clubs:
"In theory, there’s much to recommend book clubs. They encourage reading. They enrich authors who, as you may have heard, are not particularly in the business of being enriched these days. They spur socializing, usually face to face, another valuable and endangered activity. Public book clubs — most notably Oprah’s, or CBC’s Canada Reads — have become an essential economic engine for the publishing industry. And the book club remains appealing to anyone who, like me, romanticizes long arguments over sonnets in smoky coffee houses, or who occasionally longs for the womb of the lecture hall — where, as eager students, we were convinced that each new unread novel held the power to shape our lives."
Then he goes on to say:
"…But to suggest that the experience of reading The House of Mirth (a recent well-received selection by my own book club) is intrinsically enhanced by subsequently talking about reading The House of Mirth is to imply that reading The House of Mirth is an experience that can be, and needs to be, enhanced. And I think most anyone who’s ever read a book and loved it understands that’s simply not true. If you read Moby Dick while sailing the world alone, you would not enjoy it less. In fact, I think you’d enjoy it more."
He ends on this note, after comparing reading to a sexual type experience.
"And, as we all learn eventually, certain experiences are better when you don’t go blabbing about them afterward. Was it good for you? Then that should be more than enough."
I couldn’t agree with him more.
This is a funny, well-written article and I’d recommend reading the entire piece if you have the time.
Do you belong to book clubs? Do book discussions add to your enjoyment of reading?
Thanks for stopping by.
Tags: Adam Sternbergh, Book Clubs, Walrus Magazine, House of Mirth, Moby Dick, Oprah, Canada Reads,