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.