Five Questions to Take to Book Club
I understand that some book clubs are quite structured when it comes to pre-event questions. Some have so many questions it looks like the final exam for a Lit course. To be honest, that would take the fun out of it for me—too much like work. I tend to like the spontaneity of our community, where the first question is usually “Did you like the book?” A good book will provoke strong feelings either way, but the most lively discussions seem to arise when somebody hated the book and is very vocal about it.
Next up seems to be, “What did you like or hate about it specifically?” Here we can get into some confusing territory. In the case of Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing, but the details drove me to distraction. I just wanted to smack the parents in hopes of waking them up to the damage they were doing to their kids. This book exemplified the literary equivalent to a classic love/hate relationship for me.
In the case of a mystery, it seems natural to wonder, “At what point did you crack the case?” This comes to mind in reference to The Secret History by Donna Tartt. She did a masterful job of hiding the truth to the last minute. The tension never let up all the way through, and that much suspense can’t help but keep the pages turning. I didn’t even mind that other readers were so much smarter than me and able to figure it out early on.
“Did you feel a special affinity for any of the characters and what was it?” Upon reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, I ached for that book to be a true story so that I could meet the heroine—such was the depth of my admiration. As I read the final chapter on the streetcar, I blubbered my way across Queen Street in Toronto, thoroughly broken hearted. That’s some powerful authoring right there, and it was especially gratifying to hear others share their similar grief-stricken reactions at book club.
“Did you learn something new, either about the world or yourself, and what was it?” This brings to mind two books, The Bees by Laline Paull and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Even though the former is fiction and the latter is not, they were both enormously informative on a particular subject, but not like a textbook. The storytelling in both books was superb, imparting a wealth of knowledge as entertainment. Moreover, each in its own way inspired meaningful conversation about ethics, justice, and community, a worthy aspiration for any author methinks. I mean really, what more can you ask of a book?
Thinking of your New Year’s resolution, wanting to join a Book Club. What better way to discuss a book than over a great meal with new friends? With our book club events, it’s easy to do. See what’s coming up here in January.
Laura Vincent recently settled into retirement, doing a bit of writing, a lot of service and smelling the roses along the way. A plan is afoot to explore Europe on a Eurail Pass – one last great hurrah so to speak.
Favourite book: The Chrysalids by John Wyndham
Favourite brunch spot: Rocco Restaurant & Bar