Sunday, May 10, 2015

Are book clubs too confining?

My husband working on his Mother's Day present

Mine is the path of the full book shelf, not the way of the book club.

If you are a member of a book club, you must commit to a book, like you do a wedding ring. And the book may not even be chosen by you. It may be an arranged marriage. You must find meaning, even if the page is drool or foggy. You must be entertained, even if the tale doesn't capture you. You must, for the purpose of a book club is to discuss a book. How can you do that if you haven't read the book cover to cover? How can you do that if you haven't discovered the truth that waits between the pages?

But if your bookshelf is full of must-reads the choice is yours. The power is yours.

"Entertain me," you say to the author. And you read the first few pages of one book and then the other. You continue to audition one author after another, until you find one that speaks to you, that entertains you, that has written his story for you. 

Mine is the path of the full bookshelf.

Or

I've started attending a book club. Do you need to read that again? Here:  I've joined a book club. 

We read the same book. One book to entertain, edify, enlighten all readers. One book to bind them all.



The Holy Man 
Buddhism and insomnia led novelist Susan Trott to invent an alternative to counting sheep. She counted a line of people waiting to see a holy man. This mental game, unresolved each night as sleep arrived, inspired The Holy Man.
Each chapter of this charming book tells the tale of a pilgrim and his problem. There is a man who is incurably jealous of his wife, the grandmother who never receives thank-you notes from her grandchildren, the war veteran who can't forgive himself for the lives he took. As their stories unfold, we come to realize that we're all in here, somewhere, with our wounded egos, insecurities, bad tempers, impatience, and ambitiousness.
These simple and beautiful tales help us unravel the knots of everyday anxieties with profound ease, humor, wisdom, and elegance. Through them, we understand that a guru's cures never really cure us; they simply show us the good things we are but cannot see. "If you look on everyone as a holy person," the Holy Man advises, "you will be happy."



I didn't choose this book. 

Chapter by chapter, we dissect it. We cut deep. Wisdom like blood flows. Our fingers are stained with it. Wisdom -- about the individual, about humanity. 

Within the pages of this book, I see myself. Within the pages of this book, I find those who people my world. And the discussion that the book generates points the way to growth, to healing. 

Would I have found this book on my own?

Possibly.

Would I have delved this deeply, engaged in this dialogue, gained this rich insight?

No.

Mine is the way of the book club.

You need to be on Mayne Island this weekend.
Why?
Well...


May 17th
2 to 3:30 PM
ten author meet and greet
Miner's Bay bookstore
Mayne Island, BC

Next Monday: I review a chapter of The Holy Man

Sharing my author journey...
I breathed in deeply, breathed out slowly; I closed my eyes. I was meditating. 

There in the shadows, I found a warm yellow light.
A seven-year-old girl whispered, "Tell them my story."
My heart replied, "I promise, I will."
I felt her smile.




Later, I recalled attending Winnipeg's writers' festival--Thin Air. There I remembered hearing, "The role of a children's author is to report back about the journey they've had."



And so, I will write about that sweet, little girl with the sunshine smile, who was given an amazing gift--an endlessly creative dyslexic mind.





6 comments:

Zee said...

I've been umming and ahhing about joining a book club, so I found this post interesting. I'd like to hear more about your thoughts further down the line, as well.

Leanne Dyck said...

Thank you for the feedback, Zee. I've made a note of your request and will try to remember to revisit this topic.

Laurie Buchanan said...

Leanne - I love your analogy of a book club being like an arranged marriage. Great observation!

Leanne Dyck said...

: ) Thank you for your comment, Laurie.

letscutthecrap said...

I started my own book club some years ago. The members changed over ten years and eventually the books were only a small part of the evening. Sigh. the socializing took over.

I like how your book club works. I would never have read a lot of the books others recommended. Of that I am well pleased because I tried other genres.

Book clubs are only as good as the interested parties contribute to them.

Leanne Dyck said...

Maybe you should keep your old book club for socializing and start a new one that is strictly for discussion. : )

'Books clubs are only as good as the interested parties contribute to them.' --I really like your observation, Tess.