(This prompt comes via Sarah) Good reads. What was your favorite book or reading of 2015? Why? Was it a different genre from what you normally read?
Confession: I joined a book club this year. Joining was a decision I regretted the moment I said “yes,” and it is a choice I cannot write about much because the odds of someone from said Book Club finding my writing and kicking me out of the Club for being snarky or negative are…high.
I think the only thing worse than being in a book club with strangers is being kicked out.
I am not, by nature, a joiner. I am a Team Player, for certain. I was tennis team co-captain in high school; I was in a sorority in college. But I was kicked out of Girl Scouts (aka asked not to return), and I had to leave the Junior League after four years for reasons that are probably not for discussion in polite company. But there has always to be a purpose for me joining something. I love the sports teams I’ve played on, and I cherish my experiences in some of the philanthropic and social groups I’ve been a part of. But I am deeply wary of groupthink, and I feel horribly claustrophobic when I am forced to do things simply because the tide of the group goes one way.
I therefore have no idea what came over me when I said, Yes, I would love to join your book club, other than that, just moments before I was asked to join, I had been thinking about how badly I needed a new book.
Book club notwithstanding, earlier this year I read Blackout by Sarah Hepola and loved it. If you’ve ever loved an alcoholic, I strongly recommend it. Even if you haven’t had the pleasure of ill-advised, furtive tonsil hockey in the elevator bank at Bloomingdale’s with your alcoholic lover/coworker, and you don’t continue to struggle to make sense of that era of your life and decisionmaking many years later, I would still recommend Hepola’s book. It is smart, funny, poignant, and humanises some of the issues of addiction that often become slap-sticky when told in the context of recovery narratives.
I also re-read Wuthering Heights, which was great, but that’s really all I have to say about that since most of you have probably either read it, or know of it.
But this gets us back to the Book Club. My Book Club read My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles by Peter Biskind. This was a horrible book about two shitty, selfish filmmakers who fed off each other’s egos, and it continued for literally hundreds of pages, transcribing their racist, sexist, rude, and deeply unfunny lunchtime chats. Reading this book was like eavesdropping on the worst people I had ever met, and being forced to stay behind the potted palm for another 300 pages until Welles keeled over.
But I dutifully read the book, because it’s a Book Club, and book clubs are for reading. I mean, I’m sure there are book clubs where people don’t really read the books and they just drink wine and gossip, but I had signed myself up for a book club with strangers, and how do you gossip with strangers?
At the last minute on the night of Book Club, I had to skip the meeting due to a work commitment that ran long. This was terrible because I’d desperately wanted to attend to at least make my displeasure known. But maybe it was for the best. After all, I haven’t been kicked out of Book Club yet.