Book Clubs

I was perusing my public library recently, and I noticed they added something new: there was a section focused on book clubs.  A whole row of shelves held various baskets, with multiple copies of books.  As I drew closer, I noticed a sign that read “Book Clubs,” and direction instructed those interested to “grab a basket and go.”

I immediately loved this idea.  Until I saw the books in the baskets.

I have nothing against The Help.  In fact, I watched the movie and really liked it.  There were other “book club classics” as well, such as The Jane Austen Book Club.  (In High School I attempted to read this and found myself utterly bored.)  I’m not saying these are bad books, but they don’t interest me and never have.  I’ve always been a Fantasy/Sci-Fi geek.  When I first became excited about reading, I read nothing but Star Wars books.  What’s wrong with The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, or Lord of the Rings?  These are great classics in my own genre; why aren’t they book club material?

The nature behind a book club is that a group, either of friends or strangers, can come together and dive into discussions and character, plot, themes (and so much more) about a book they are all excited about.  I’ve always believed this should not be limited to a certain “literary” genre.  When I was in college, I formed a book club with a couple of close friends, in which we read and discussed Dracula around Halloween.  Even though Dracula is in the horror/fantasy genre, it’s full of reference, subtle themes, and fascinating characters.

I encourage students to do the same–to form book clubs, either in or out of the classroom, that THEY are excited about.  It’s sometimes fun to go back to a book you’ve already read and suddenly realize, “So THAT’s why the author wrote this scene.  I totally see what he meant now.”  It’s just one of many ways to get excited about reading.