Wednesday, June 05, 2024

May, 2024: Quit Book Group. Don't Care.


Bookworms work in mysterious ways, and one day last month, I woke up and decided that I didn't want to be in book group anymore. I didn't like that itchy feeling of having to read a book that I really didn't want to read. A book in which I didn't even want to crack the cover, not even the teeniest bit, and I damn well didn't want to sit and talk about it, nor did I want to answer inane questions about (cardboard) character motivation.

Regrets? Sadness? None so far. Instead, I have a feeling of buoyancy. I can read anything I want FOREVER.

 If I were to return to book groupdom, I would want to be in one of those new silent book clubs in which people sit around reading to themselves, then at the end of the meeting, they go around and share brief details and impressions of what they've been reading. If I liked the look of their book, I could quickly borrow it and make a note of the title, author, and some keywords that led to my attraction. So yes, I've had some pleasantly hazy reveries about this sort of book grouping, but I can't figure out why I am picturing all of us in semi-formal clothing!


In other news, I decided that I wanted to belong to all the libraries in the area, so I started patronizing the university library ten miles down the road. Wandering around in the stacks which seem to stretch for miles is both relaxing and exhilarating. Even better, it's free! I don't have to pay a fee to check out materials. Contrast this with an earlier attempt to join a community college library in a nearby town: 

1. No, you can't join. You don't live in our preferred counties.

2. No, you can't pay a fee to join. We just don't want your other-county ass.

3. Even if you were eligible, you still couldn't have access to all the available materials, because you aren't a student.

I know, of course, that this library has its reasons, rules, and regulations, but this Fuck You gift-wrapped in a Fuck Off stung a bit. I felt ashamed and unwashed. I felt like a bumpkin; how dare I inquire, how dare I try to walk my stinky feet through its shining portal? I slunk away, but regained my equanimity within a day: I'm not the bumpkin! They're the bumpkins! 

Everything is fine now. I joined the university library, and it's free and they sent me an email welcoming me, and you know what else? They could fit all of Bumpkin Library on one of their many floors! So there.


Finally, I'm going to talk about my May reading:

1. What Were the Shark Attacks of 1916? -Nico Medina. Nonfiction. These attacks are what the bestseller Jaws was based on. It seems so strange that just barely a century ago, people and even scientists knew so little about sharks.

2. What Was  the Great Molasses Flood of 1919? -Kirsten Anderson. Nonfiction. My jaw dropped so many times reading about this preventable disaster. I know that companies can be inept and unscrupulous, but this was really blatant.

3. Emma -Jane Austen. Novel. Back last century, when I took that Jane Austen class and read six novels in six weeks, I had the sense in my bruised brain at the end that Emma was my favorite of the novels. I've been going back and rereading, and so far, I'm not wrong. There's only Mansfield Park left, and that was the one I ranked at the bottom. I'm not in a tearing hurry to read it. But Emma! What a treat! Audiobook.

IV. (for some reason, the numeral four isn't working on this keyboard) The Sunne In Splendour -Sharon Kay Penman. Novel. Rich and rewarding historical fiction about Richard III and The Wars of the Roses. I've got a stack of Penman novels that should take me to the end of the year.

V. (hmm, this is interesting.) One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest -Ken Kesey. Novel. While I appreciated the novel, this is one of those cases in which the movie was better. McMurphy as a Christ-figure was too heavy-handed. Audiobook.

6. Cocktails with George and Martha: Movies, Marriage, and the Making of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? -Philip Gefter. This book seemed like one of those long New Yorker articles padded into book-length. Although it was repetitive, I enjoyed the backstage drama involved with the making of the movie, and at the end, Gefter's look at other movies about marriage that were influenced in one way or another by Who's Afraid...? I followed up this read with my own viewing of the 1966 movie, and relished it more armed with the insider knowledge and trivia Gefter's book provided.


Other stuff.

What I'm working on now: 

It Ended Badly: 13 of the Worst Breakups in History - Jennifer Wright. Nonfiction.

When Christ and His Saints Slept (Book 1 of the Plantagenet Saga) -Sharon Kay Penman. Novel.

Come and Get It -Kiley Reid. Novel. Audiobook.

Wishlist: The Alienist -Caleb Carr. Novel.


Jeane said...

I've never had much inkling to join a book club, and that's why. The pressure to read something I'm not really enjoying. Yay for joining the university library! I didn't know that was possible. Boo to the others for denying you, but really you got into the bigger one so who cares.

I still have library cards from all the libraries I've belonged to, in different states and colleges. I wonder if any of them would still work, did I go back there.

Sam said...

Nice month. Congrats.

As for book groups, I've only sample a few book clubs over the years, and have never officially belonged to one. I did try, for what is destined to be the very last time, to convince myself I would enjoy a book club that was reading one of my very favorite historical fiction novels. Then when I got there, I found that only two or three people had actually read the novel, that more than that number had listened to the audiobook version just that very day, and that the group was dominated by a woman who had the reading comprehension of an eight-year-old (she was one who rushed through the audiobook experience with her husband). The woman came up with a canned bunch of discussion points that were more suitable for nonfiction than for fiction, and she refused to deviate from the list until she had rund through all forty suggested questions. Anyone trying to interrupt with a point, or anyone that dared to go on for a minute too long to suit her, received the glare of death...and she had a good one. Can't tell you how bored I was...but I mainly just remember the massive disappointment it all turned out to be.

No more book groups for me...I'm an indie reader as it turns out.

Bybee said...

I still have my library card from the Busan English Library, and I wonder if it would still work.

That was definitely a bad book group experience. I nearly broke out in hives just reading about it.