Monthly Archives: June 2010

book club fun

I’m participating in the 1 Book, 1 Twitter (1B1T) global book club which has been going for about a month now. Lots of folks are reading the same book and discussing it on Twitter. I follow the author Neil Gaiman there and found out about this event when he mentioned that his book American Gods was doing well in the voting. Then it won the vote. I’d just finished reading the book only a month and a half before 1B1T started, but I decided to read it all over again and join in. I’ve never been in a book club before, so I wasn’t sure how this would go.

I dreaded English class in high school. Finding deep meanings and themes in books and interpreting symbolism was way beyond my interest in reading and I wasn’t all that good at it.  I could manage some when forced to, but it doesn’t come naturally when I read. Also, I was very timid about speaking up in class and participation mattered.  And to add to my discomfort, for some unknown reason I was in an AP tract class where all the other students were talented writers and wizzes at literature To this day, I think it’s because I scored 100 on a multiple choice test about Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar in 9th grade, given after all the class discussions and asking for no new insights…so they threw me into the AP class, like that proved I could handle it. I’m not a creative writer, either.  Everyone else in class, and I mean everyone else…it wasn’t a large class and we all knew what the others turned in…wrote lovely, innovative papers.  I wrote straightforward, dull, and wordy things that read like a report for some government project or a manual for some complicated gadget.

 I don’t dig deeply into movies or books even now.  I don’t usually notice the themes unless someone else points them out. Maybe I’m lazy? I like complicated plots and complex connections between characters and I can remember, or recall quickly when reminded, detailed storylines from movies, TV, and books, sometimes going back decades. It can be a useful skill if you want to keep up with long running TV shows or comic book continuity. But it doesn’t mean I dig into the meat of a story. I accept the storyline for what it says on the surface, I guess. Deeper significance just doesn’t occur to me.

Okay, that said, 1B1T is a blast.  It’s given me a much greater appreciation of this book.  The discussions have pointed out a lot of themes and symbolism I glossed over, ideas that I would have missed. It’s also been a great resource with people sharing links and information about places and names used in the book that I hadn’t looked up when I read it before. I’ve met some good people through 1B1T, too. It’s been a fun time.

And along with that, 1B1T has helped me feel better about my own reading skills.  Although I didn’t notice some themes as I read the book, once they’d been mentioned, I’ve run with some comments and contributed to the discussion. I never did that back in English class.  I was too scared to speak up and doubted any thoughts I had.
And a few times, people pointed out and discussed points I did recognize while reading!  I never thought anything about it while reading.  I mean, if I catch something, it must be obvious, right? But now I’ve seen that maybe I’ve been underestimating myself a little.  Not completely: there are plenty of points I missed.  But still, seeing any evidence of this is a revelation.

So now I’m raring to go: bring on the next book.