I haven´t ever officially joined a book club. I have been invited to join two clubs. The first one was reading books I had never heard of and the other was reading “Pride and Prejudice and Zoombies,” which really didn’t really spark my interest by the title and looking at the cover.
So my question is: why do most book clubs these days read the classics? I´d have to ashamedly admit that I haven´t actually read any of Jane Austen´s books. It wasn´t on the reading list in high school and for some reason or another I always found a modern book that I wanted to read more. Is it bad for a girl, or more specifically, a girl who loves reading and writing and editing and everything to do with words, to not have read Austen? I haven’t read Bronte either.
Maybe book clubs read the classics because it’s good to have this “cultured knowledge” or maybe because the average person needs a little help from peers to fully understand the book? I know I’ve cracked open Pride and Prejudice more than one while lying in bed before going to sleep, and I couldn’t seem to concentrate hard enough to sift through the “older” English and follow all the Ms Bennets.
So what is on the reading lists for book clubs out there reading more current authors? I personally find it quite entertaining going to Chapters (in Canada) or Sterling Books (in Brussels) to browse the new releases or the selected titles. It’s fun to see what´s being written about now, the cover designs and how eventually many of the books will be turned into movies (which isn´t always bad).
Book clubs could diversify for the technological era. Read the books, watch the movie and then have a “comparison meeting” with popcorn and wine. Now that sounds like an engaging and fresh book club.
What do the Classic book clubs talk about? “Oh this scholar said that actually this was the motive behind so-and-so´s action,” re-telling what they learned in school or coming up with new sometimes unrelated theories just to talk about a new idea. Now I’m in no way stereotyping classic book clubs since I’ve never participated. I should probably find one though, or create one because I don´t have the complete knowledge about these classics. I did watch “Pride and Prejudice,” “Sense and Sensibility,” “Jane Austin’s book club,” and “Becoming Jane” and enjoyed each one enormously. But, I think book clubs could be a social-intellectual group talking about literature that maybe their co-workers would also be interested in. You might be a bigger hit if you walk up to the coffee machine, where your colleagues are talking about a movie they saw on the weekend, and you could provide an “inside scoop” because you read the book. Rather than pulling out Mansfield Park during lunch and sitting in the corner to get some quiet to be able to concentrate.
A modern book club could read books from the authors of today, watch the movie, and throw in a classic novel every now and then. Discovering the differences between the book, the movie (or even the screen writing), and the authors or today versus the authors of the past would be a diverse and stimulating book club. But don’t forget the snacks! I’m sure that this is what brings the attendance up to the gatherings.