A new book club, part of, I am.

I love reading. I am quite a lay reader – loving fanciful flights of clichéd ideas and pure pulp in the stories told. However the main point is I love to read anything and everything. I love interacting with people. However more often than not I am wary of coming off as too stupid or too boisterous making people dislike me. Disregard the above statements if it makes no sense. I just felt I had to give some caveats for the rest the post.

When the idea of a book club was floated I jumped onto the band wagon for the following reason
1. Always wanted to be in a ‘book club’
2. Trusted the people involved based on past interactions with them on twitter and offline
3. Wanted a support group to help me read and understand the more ‘literary’ and ‘serious’ books.
4. Have fun

Of course I have zero experience of a book club.at All I had were hazy assumptions based on mentions of book
clubs as it popped up in a novel, movie or a news item. So what did I expect when i joined a book club? Well, to be fair, my
innermost secret idea was the club would be a bit Dead Poet Societish . Essentially 10-12 people meet, have some coffee and discuss a book that they had read and have a good time understanding a book.

Well we had our book club launch this last week – and it was a success as launches go. It was a well spent afternoon and I for one was very happy to meet the author of one of my favourite books. You can find better posts on the launch by Shantanu [For the passionate book lovers], by Sankarshan [Post The Tossed Salad Book Club meeting] and by Poonam [Makings of a Book Club]. Poonam’s post in particular made me reflect on the launch event and try to map it against my earlier ideas/expectations for a book club.

I did not think the launch was how a typical session of the book club would/will run. We had picked a popular book, a popular author and a commercial locale – it was a given (imho) that the meeting would become a book reading/author interaction of sorts. If you read Shantanu’s review above you will notice that the event reads like any author-fan interaction. So to that extent I agree with Poonam. However I do not see it as a shortcoming on her part as a moderator or in us as a book club.

This is the way I see it, I would love for the book club to fit my romantic ideas above. I know that if I want to stay enthusiastic about this book club for long I do want to have discussions on the books themselves… and debates… and explorations… and serendipity… etc etc. *However* that’s not all we should have. That would be too narrow and self-serving a purpose. If we do last long we *need* to have occasional readings and interactions like we had in the launch. We *need* to spread the habit of reading if we can. And we should have fun.

Without the quieter, serious discussions a book club will end up being just another tweetup. However considering that most of the initial members of this specific club are quite active on the social interweb it is unavoidable that we will do flashy stuff from time to time. In fact that is the charm our group has.

So as far as the launch was concerned I believe that Poonam, Sahil and other volunteers did a fantastic job setting up and running the event. The activity of the launch day may not reflect a typical book club session but there will be days like this from time to time. We do need to meet before the next session and try to codify some of the discipline that we thought would have been obvious. Poonam has already enumerated some of them in her post . The next book club meeting will be the real test. The book is interesting but it will not be as easy to read as Meluha was. And the author is dead. So it cannot be a Q&A, people will have to do their homework and they will need to interact if they want to have some takeaway from this activity. [Watch out for my post after that session;)]

So here’s hoping for a long innings to this book club.

Cheers.

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5 thoughts on “A new book club, part of, I am.

  1. Brijesh, I have to say that you are a very adorable and optimistic man and I mean it as a heart-felt compliment. I am kind of staunch believer in what I wrote and was bit disappointed with what I saw as a personal failing. But, I confess I changed my mind a little when I read your post. You are right, we wouldn’t mind such interactions (as the one in launch) once in a while. I think I went through turmoil because I thought the expectation-setting amongst book club members hasn’t been right. As you say, next one is acid test and we should certainly meet beforehand to discuss how to go bout it. 🙂

    Once again, thank you, for upholding your faith. 🙂

  2. Thank you for the kind words. I am sure my optimism is not misplaced here as we know we have a core set of people who will interact in this form or another. It will be a fun challenge to make this form a success, and for a larger participant group.

  3. I wouldn’t want to focus too much on the second meeting. Especially that it isn’t a ‘standard’ easy read like TIoM. The one thing which I would love to see (and read) and probably end up contributing to is an understanding of the ‘reading’ habits and, a means to tap into what is being read. Everyone reading the same book and, doing a critical appreciation sounds like a droll English literature class. Not that I have anything against such an effort but that’s going to go down the ‘elitist’ path (which Poonam quietly made it a point to point out against).

    I think Poonam is a bit needlessly harsh on herself. 🙂 Facing an unpredictable audience involved in mushy fanboy-ism with an author who is verbose would lead to what we saw on the launch. That isn’t failure. In fact I’d say that the selection of the book and the presence of the author gives some bits of publicity that would otherwise be left to scrounging around to obtain. Can some of the media folks turn up for the next event ? I don’t know. However, there would perhaps be a need to plan for a quarter worth of meetings and content.

    1. I personally think that there is a lot to be discussed before the next meeting. I can see a lot of concerns on the facebook page too. I do think that the next book club discussion is important to set the tone of the club. Let’s see if we can have a quick meet in the coming week.
      I too am interested in meta issues wrt reading and am sure we can have it in our reading. My main concern currently is about location.

      1. Ah yes ! I knew that someone was sooner or later going to bring up the location. More pertinently, without PR, is Landmark going to be as deliciously accommodating as they have been in the first meet ?

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