Do You Book Club?

Ransom Riggs

I know, I know -- the first rule of Book Club is, don't use Book Club as a verb! But seriously, I never thought I'd say this: I joined a book club. A sit-around-in-someone's-living-room-sipping-brandy-discussing-Jonathan-Franzen book club. For years, I didn't see the point; I had spent four years talking about books with groups of people at Kenyon College (the better of our seminars were even held in professors' living rooms), and as much as I'd enjoyed being an English lit major, it seemed like I'd had enough book discussions for a lifetime. I was wrong.

I finally let a friend talk me into joining her newly-formed club a few months ago, and now, just a handful of meetings into this thing, I think I understand why people do it. Part of it's the food-folks-and-fun aspect of it, since it's as much social as, for lack of a better word, educational, and there are generally snacks and a fermented beverage or two. Also I'm really proud of the name I came up with for our group: Fahrenheit Four-Fifty-Fun! But having read and discussed Freedom (two thumbs up!) and then Room (three thumbs up!), I think I'm hooked. I'm notorious for reading books quickly and then quickly forgetting what I'd read, but even thirty minutes of talking about what I read with other people seems to cement the thing in my mind in a whole new, much-harder-to-forget way. And, not to sound like an English lit major or anything, it forces you to "engage with the text" on a new level, even if you resort to using the always-dumb book group questions they sometimes include with the books (which are generally along the lines of "what would you have done differently if you were character X?").

So what I'd like to know is this: do you book club? (Gah, I verbed it again.) What do you get out of it? And why did it take me so long to try one? (Actually, don't worry about answering that last one.) If you'd prefer to let me know on Facebook or Twitter, you can do that, too.