Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Book Clubs

We used to have a little neighborhood book club. I enjoyed it for the most part. Heck, I started it. Got a good friend to pull it together with me and it lasted until people moved or lost interest. It's fun to have several people read the same book and then get together to talk about it.

I'm curious about something, though. Those discussion questions some books have at the end, designed to facilitate book club discussions . . . know the ones I mean?

Reading a book is intense (if it's good) and personal (if it's very good), and discussion questions often leave me cold. The ones I've seen seem to be either shallow ("Duh" comes to mind) or so esoteric that I have to wonder how long it took them to come up with a question to make me feel dumb.

I've learned to pretty much ignore the discussion questions, if I want to continue to enjoy the book weeks after I've finished reading.

There are discussion questions however, and then there are Discussion Questions. As a novelist, the questions and answers I've seen online are remarkable and each one can teach a writer something. I encourage everyone to get involved in a quality, online book discussion. Even if I haven't read the book they're talking about (I never have), I learn about triumphs and tragedies. Things that work for readers and things best avoided.

I haven't been able to find an online group for suspense. If you know of one, please share. But for mystery, there are several. I belong to a couple of yahoo groups (you can find some that fit the bill for you at their website). My favorite (for reader input) is 4 Mystery Addicts. Another wonderful loop (independent of yahoo) is DorothyL, named for Dorothy L. Sayers.

I'm frantically trying to read a book for the DorothyL book club I'd like to get involved with. I just picked up the book today. The discussion starts, um . . . today. Somehow I need to plan better.

The book the group is reading . . . has read . . . is The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler. Last month they read a Christie. That one I probably read. This one is new to me so far, but the title rings vaguely familiar.

We often talk about authors from days gone by never making it in today's market. For the most part, that's true. American readers (not so much European in my experience) require a fast-pace. Get to the story. Draw me in.

And Raymond Chandler (1888-1959), at least so far in this book, is doing a bang-up job. His handling of dialogue is superb and worthy of study.

If I forsake a few other things tomorrow, maybe I can get close to being ready for the Big Discussion.

Just finished The Bookman's Wake by John Dunning. You know what I'm currently reading.

It's all better with friends.

1 comment:

  1. I'm 'loosely' involved with a couple online book clubs, but my face to face book club has become really important to me. I agree it's a great experience to have others to discuss a book with. We do use discussion questions but like you said, some of them are so obvious (duh) and others make you feel stupid!