Book Club meets on Sunday. I’m the moderator this month, the one who leads the discussion. I want it to be a lively dialogue, a reflection on the various themes, the research, the eloquent writing. I want to hear how people related to the characters, the relevance the story had on members’ own lives, the nuggets of Truth that were found on its pages.
There’s only one problem: I hated the selected book.
As an author myself, I squirm at making such a bold and unkind remark about a book. I know the author toiled – probably for years – at writing it. (It is oh-so-long.) I know how hard it is to write a book, even a short, simple story. The blurbs by other best-selling authors on the jacket praise this book, saying it is the writer’s best work to date, and she has published dozens of books. I tend to be open-minded in my reading tastes, enjoying a vast variety of genres and writing styles. I always try to understand what the author is trying to say, and I respect creative attempts at getting the message across, even when they are less than successful.
But not this time. If it hadn’t been a book club selection, and if I hadn’t paid good money for it, I would have quit after page 10. The story got bogged down and repetitive immediately. I didn’t want to turn the page, and there were about 500 of them to turn. I am so grateful that I wasn’t the one who make the selection, I’d feel so guilty that I’d made all the other book club members slog through it. But that’s the way it is in book club, you make a selection based on good reviews and word of mouth, hoping they aren’t misleading.
At book club meetings we often find that our initial scores of a book (out of a possible 10) tend to go up after the discussion. We hear how the story moved other members, and why they liked it. Rarely do our scores go down, as it’s in the discussion that we often discover the hidden beauty of a story, especially if it has particular relevance to another book club member.
I hope that is the case this month and that I can report back that my score went from a lowly 2 to a possible 5. I secretly challenge my book club friends to help me see the merit in this story.
Please, let it be so.