It’s been a while since I have talked about my book club. For those who might not know, I’ve been running a book club for almost a year and a half. I think we have done 15 books so far. On Monday night we discussed Disgrace by J. M. Coetzee. It may have been our best discussion yet.
The book is a short one, telling the story of a professor from a South African technical college, David Lurie, who falls into disgrace. The story begins with the dissolution of his relationship to a prostitute, then leads into a rather tactless and boorish attempt of his to start an affair with a young student. When the affair is revealed, he deals with the inquiry badly, leading to his dismissal. From here the professor goes to the South African countryside to live with his daughter on what remains of a communal farm.
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Tomorrow night is book club night for me. It’s probably the night each month I most look forward to these days. I’m a little shocked how much I enjoy it to be honest.
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.
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The Kindle is really handy for checking out a lot of books in an efficient manner. You can quickly download samples from several books and then take your time reading through them. The sample is usually about 5-10% of the book. That’s usually enough of a book to get a good feel whether or not you will like it.
So I downloaded about a dozen samples of novels. I finally zeroed in on one by Tom Perrotta, the author of Election. A friend suggested the Abstinence Teacher, I read the sample and bought the book. But after reading a bit, I thought it might be too political and too religious for a first book, when I have no idea who will be showing up to this club. The last thing I want is a heated debate about Evangelical Christianity and sex education in the schools. Besides I realized that it isn’t out in paperback yet. Still, I liked his writing style, and decided to try Little Children instead.
I think this one is a keeper. It’s a quick read, funny, with lots to talk about. I’m a bit nervous about all the adult content in the book. There are several very frank scenes about sex, perversions and a character who is a child molester. It’s probably not a huge deal, but it feels strangely vulnerable to recommend a book to strangers.
The next book will likely be The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. I’m almost done with that and have really been enjoying it too.
I started a book club through meetup.com. If anyone has some recommendations for good contemporary fiction, please let me know. I’d like to work out my list for the first few months.
What are the requirements for inclusion on my list? Books must be in paperback and ubiquitous enough to be found in a local library. A big bonus if they are available for the Kindle (I may only use Kindle-available books for purely selfish reasons). Oh and they must be good books, hopefully with a bit of an edge.
I’m also considering doing some kind of virtual version of the book club. Perhaps I would do it in SecondLife, or via a group in Facebook or on my message board. Sounds like fun and not that much more work since we would read the same book in the different locations.