Friday, January 6, 2023

Book Club Tales

Once upon a time, our community had a book club. The organizer found out I'm an author and talked me into joining the group. We met once a month, as you do. Voted on which books to read. The group always picked two books so you'd have a choice of what to read and then divided the group along the lines of who read what. Then we sat around and talked about them. Indoors. Seated right next to one another. As if we had nothing in the world to fear. It was the before times.

Yeah Covid shut us all done and dealt a fatal blow to the group. Too many of our members were elderly or immune-compromised. In an active community with a population that skews pretty hard to retirees, the book club was a social haven for our neighbors with mobility issues or who are fighting cancer. So even after vaccinations and options to meet outdoors, the group never recovered and there is no book club in my neighborhood these days.

I liked the book club and I disliked the book club.

I liked that one of the books changed a woman's mind about what it means to be transgender. She'd firmly believed it was all nonsense. The book we read got her inside a transgender child's misery and their parents' struggles to comprehend and finally help the child thrive. If a book can engender compassion, that's power and I'm entirely here for that.

I disliked the book club because book clubs only want to read *important* books. You know. Oprah books. Literary books. Genre fiction isn't allowed. I could nominate as many genre fics as I wanted (don't think I didn't). They were never voted for. Not even as alternates. I'd gotten maybe three books into this book club deal and had pretty much decided it Was Not For Me (tm) when the pandemic handled the matter. Though I note that if we'd managed to keep a club going during the pandemic, I'm comfortably certain the members would have been more amenable to lightening the mood with some genre fiction.

My problem is that high school put me off reading literary books. It's just that I paid good money to big pharma and therapists over the years to stop being depressed and literary books depress me. Some of them are brilliant and uplifting and lovely. Water for Elephants comes to mind. But for the most part, literary books aren't invested in character arcs and I want to believe in the power of the individual to change. That's the appeal of genre fiction for me. I have yet to find a book club anywhere that wanted to read Murderbot stories. So I'll stick with genre fiction in my quiet corner of solitude where I can read the happy and the fun. Preferably SF, Romance, Fantasy, PNR, Steampunk - whatever my weird little heart takes a shine to. If I find a no pressure, come as you are book club that wants to stick to guaranteed HEA books, I'd be tempted to join. Until then, Twitter fandoms will be my clubs. 

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