I finally got around to joining a book group. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for a long time. I miss reading. I’ve always been a bookworm, I love to read, I love stories, I love to learn. As a child, I devoured books and would always be found in the library on a Saturday afternoon maxing out my 6 books a week limit. I was voracious I would read anything and being a little precocious I soon exhausted the shelves of the ‘children’s section’. All through my life I have loved books and began collecting books (by dint of the fact that I could never part with them once I had them in my possession) at an early age.
After reading fiction, non-fiction and instructional tomes of all kinds I eventually found myself at university studying for my teaching degree and later teaching. These two life milestones had a serious and unexpected effect on my reading habits. I HAD to read, reading became WORK. I suddenly found myself with no time to read for pleasure and even if I found a little time I actually didn’t want to read.
Until now it seemed almost like joining a secret society, people I knew were in groups but they were always clear they had enough members. It felt like you had to wait for someone to die in order to get a place in a group. I tried Meetup, the local library and general Google searches but larger ‘formal’ groups always had a hella long waiting list. Finally, someone on my local community Facebook group suggested starting a book group. I took the plunge and joined. Reacquainting myself with reading and getting a bit of a cultural reboot were drivers behind wanting to join a book group. Meeting new people and finding someone to converse with was another goal. Sharing your thoughts and sharing books is a good way to connect. Even though the idea of the book exchange was a difficult one for me; I always keep my books, my house is bursting with them and it seemed odd to give them away especially to strangers, in addition to this due to my frequent travelling most of my recent books have been e-books on my phone or tablet so this is not practical for sharing. I also realised that your personal library is very much a portrait of you as a person and so I think I was a little shy of disclosing what I read. I think that was one reason why I was glad to read the proposed books and not so keen to suggest one myself.
I missed the first meeting of Books and Booze as we were away but got myself ready for the next one then finally a date came through that I could attend. The book that had been set seemed intriguing. It was The Way to Paradise by Mario Vargas Llosa. I had fancied trying this writer’s work due to my long love affair with Spain and my desire to learn Spanish. Although he is, in fact, Peruvian, not Spanish, he is one of the most praised writers in the Spanish language. Therefore it intrigued me to start with this.
Setting off into the reading I kept following the FB page to see updates on the group. I began the book but it wasn’t the pleasant experience I had imagined. I’m not sure if the book was too challenging or that I am just out of practice at reading but it was hard work. I had expected to slip easily into the act of reading, drinking up words and translating them to images in my head but it just didn’t come easily. I managed chapter-sized chunks, but by the day of the meeting, I had only managed three. I was relieved to find that most of the other attendees had had similar trouble getting on with this book.
However the meeting itself was very enjoyable with people similar and different to myself, we discussed the Vargas and we discussed other books and authors we liked, I had a long conversation on economics which then morphed into Sci-fi and that was very good too. We got to know a little about each other and after exchanging books we parted agreeing to ‘see you next time.’ I actually won’t be able to make next time as I will be travelling but I am looking forward to my next time at the book group by which time I am determined to have finished the Vargas, I’ll tell you about it when I’m done.
Have you joined a book group lately? How did it go? What are you reading and what do you think is the best format for a group like this?