By Ellen Schuette
I, an English major and voracious reader of almost anything in print, have a confession to make: I don't like book clubs. I'm not sure why. I wish book clubs well; I admire what they are doing to bring literature to life in the homes and offices of America. I simply can't seem to make myself attend one.
Oh, I've tried. I visited a couple in the past where I was there "on approval." It seemed that the primary requirement was that I be able to balance a teacup with aplomb while expounding upon the latest bestseller. (Too much pressure; I didn't join). I was even the designated secretary for the one in our neighborhood, responsible for getting e-mails out to members, helping choose the book, browbeating a neighbor into holding the event and so forth. All intentions were good; the members were lovely. The problem was, when I showed up, I would rather have been anywhere else.
Maybe I'm opinionated, bossy and/or antisocial. Odd, seeing as how I'm perfectly thrilled to be with this same group of friends for a monthly bunco game. When it came to the book club format, however, I simply couldn't sit still through the polite exchange of ideas or the way we all attempted to answer questions like, "How did Lulu's demise help advance the plot?" And, "Did Roscoe really sleep with his sister or was that a metaphor?" I couldn't contribute anything without worrying: Did I say that correctly? Can they tell I didn't read the book? What if I say all I liked were the sex scenes, will I be ostracized?
It was all I could do not to run screaming back to my house and the safety of my own little reading nook (i.e. my bed before falling asleep at night).
That's why I like this Reading Moms idea. I can pass along my thoughts about books and share titles that have meant a lot to me (or conversely, books I've despised) and perhaps fellow readers will agree/react or perhaps they won't. I know I will learn from being part of this blog. But I won't have to dress up or dress down to join; I can sip tea OR chug a beer while typing my thoughts, if I so desire, and no one will ever know; and the part about reading that I most love -- that it feeds my soul -- will remain essentially private.
Now THIS is my idea of a book club!
Ellen is a 50-year-old mother of two, stepmother of two, who lives in North Carolina with her family.