Ding-dong merrily quite high… I have a post-Christmas pile of soon-to-be-lost hours of intrigue and edification. Such joy.
I maintain I’m easy to buy for…books, music, food or alcohol… with the occasional scented candle (preferably not floral… something sapid like lemongrass and ginger… orange and cilantro…lime and basil — perhaps I’ll repost this in November… just in case you lose the note you just took). Life’s essentials: ambrosial combinations of words, mouth-watering sometimes foods, heavenly scents and grog. No excuses or adjectives for that last one on the list. In my life, it’s always pinot grigio o’clock somewhere. And this year, I received all four of those essentials. In abundance. Yay, and verily yippee ya-hoo I say.
A delectable mixture of fiction, non-fiction and poetry was lovingly selected for me, and on Christmas Day I was delightedly informing my sister-in-law’s sister-in-law of this fact when she began the conversation I have so often had:
“Oh, well you must belong to a book club then.”
“Ummm, no, I don’t.”
“Really? Well you absolutely should.”
‘Should I? Why do you think that?”
You see I have never belonged to a book club. I’ve often thought about it. I’ve talked about it. I’ve even tried to find one I could join. But, truth be told, I’ve never followed through. So it’s with thanks to Shirley that I hereby explain why.
1. I don’t always finish what I read. Some of you are aghast at that confession aren’t you? Nope. If it doesn’t grab me, I dump it. There’s too much great stuff to waste time on anything that’s badly written. So if I was in a book club, I’d feel obligated to plough through pages that annoy the utter be-hooey out of me or leave me cold. What a waste of good reading time.
2. Following hard on the heels of the last point, I understand that the theory behind committing to read the entire book list is that stepping outside what’s usual for me is mind-expanding and beneficial. I suspect, however, that reading stuff that bores me up a drainpipe might just make me the weensiest bit belligerent, and then I’d end up being the nay-saying party-pooper of the group. Nobody wants a nay-saying party-pooper in their group. They’d be better off if I stayed up my drainpipe.
3. I fear landing with book-knobs. No, I don’t mean book snobs, I definitely mean book knobs — people who only read what they think makes them at least 10 per centsmarter or hipper than anyone else…or at least appear to be 10 per cent smarter or hipper than anyone else. You know, the ones who say things like you really MUST read Proust because wah wah wah… and… Oh dear me no, I don’t waste my time on derivative things like THAT but I did just finish that plotless streams-of-consciousness post-modern deconstructionist novel recently translated from ancient Tibetan by a barista from Brunswick. Total knobs.
4. I have an even greater fear that a book group may be a whole new way for me to be my own worst enemy. My natural inclination to over-prepare and over-think could lead me down the rabbit-hole of checking Goodreads and researching ABR to see what others think, which behaviour would expose me to the very real danger of disappearing up my own butt-hole.
5. I worry that while I’m reading, instead of just floating with the rhythm of the structure and absorbing the music of the language, I’ll be thinking about what I’m thinking. That’s not fun. That’s anti-fun. I don’t want to think about what I think while I’m reading. I just want to read.
6. I’m aware that many book groups are largely social, with the reading only an incidental part of the drinking. Naturally, I’m all in favour of that, but what if they all drink sauvignon blanc? Okay, so I might be starting to get to the flimsy end of the list here, but seriously the only upside of sauvignon blanc is that I can sit on just the one glass all night. I. Don’t. Love. Sauvignon. Blanc.
7. What if they all find out that I’m an editor and start trying to get me to read the manuscripts they have had on the back-burner since they took that creative writing class at the community centre a few years ago?
8. What if they all hate me?
So there it is. What do you reckon? Was Shirley right? Am I candidate for book club membership or is the Groucho Marx approach the right way to go?