In college I was an English major, but I never loved literature back then. I had a great class my Freshman year called Introduction to Poetry. This was mainly because the instructor, a grad student at the time, was so jazzed to teach the class. He also held office hours at the local bar. He would make you play pinball with him while you discussed your paper. It was that first semester that I decided to couple an English and Rhetoric major with a Cinema Studies minor. Despite many tedious English classes to follow, I plowed ahead with that plan.
I did have a few other good experiences in literature classes. I spent a year in London studying lit and there were a few lectures that stick with me to this day. But somewhere along the line, I lost my love for reading fiction. Oh sure I would occasionally pick up a book and read it. Mostly I read a book it was non-fiction however. I read plenty of books about science, math, poker, current events and politics, but novels were rare.
Then last year I was in a book club and when I moved back home I started one here in Peoria. Here are the books we have done and are scheduled:
- June: Little Children by Tom Perrotta
- July: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
- August: Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen
- September: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
- October: Old School by Tobias Wolff
- November: The Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
The discussions so far have been some of the most interesting and pleasant conversations I’ve had in a long time. Books provide a context to have intelligent, impassioned conversations, where everyone can have a point of view and get behind it without stepping on each others toes. I’m sure it’s possible to leave a book club offended, but it certainly doesn’t have the inevitability of a discussion about politics or religion.
If you are looking for a good conversation with some interesting people, a book club is probably a good bet.