I’ve come to realize that I’m unable to participate in most book clubs; so often, the conversation is stilted and forced, and the discussion and earnest probing that go into them unmerited. Frequently, the things seem like a frail reason just to get together, an excuse to hide the inability to have a plain old conversation that doesn’t have an overt reason for occurring. There’s something entirely too pragmatic about the phenomenon, methinks, but that’s not exactly where I’d like to go with this thought.*
It occurred to me yesterday, sitting in a day-long panel of scholars (the ultimate in poor social performers) that we were really just sitting around our little tables for a glorified book club. Only this time, the stakes presented themselves (falsely, I would argue) as so much more important than the usual girlie get-togethers that fancy themselves daring for combining wine with middle-brow literature. (After all, who really remembers one tenth of what gets said or read at these things?)
There’s not much more to say about that, other than the fact that I wean myself more thoroughly every year, courtesy of this big gathering, from the academic scene. That, and the additional assertion that, if I have something to say about a book, and I feel I have a sympathetic ear, I’ll say it. Otherwise, mute student that I always was, I don’t feel the need to pollute the air with useless commentary, just to hear the sound of my own voice.
Apologies, readers; I know I’m sounding bitter. From here on out, I’ll just try to let my antipathy towards– or rather, ill fit with– book clubs, of any sort, be what it is and get through the rest of the week, knowing that not everyone gets jazzed (or disheartened) about the same phenomena. Any thoughts, though, about book clubs are welcome.
*OK, at least book clubs get people reading, and I’ll support that effort hands down.