Tuesday, March 6, 2012

On Clubbing Books (you know what I mean)

While reading the local paper I saw a brief notice that the Winona Public Library Monthly Adult Book Club would meet while I was in town. As an author, I've "attended" conference calls and Skype-ins while my books were clubbed (well, you know what I mean), but never have I been able to attend a book club meeting from the readers' side of the discussion. I'm filled with envy when I hear my friends talk about their book clubs, but it just never works out.

Although I'd never heard of the title mentioned in the newspaper spot, I picked up the phone and called a local book store to see if they had a copy. Yes, a used one. Perfect. Within a couple hours, I'd made my purchase and settled into my lounge chair, feet up, iced tea nearby, determined to finish the book by the time of the meeting, a mere five days away. Considering I had my own book releasing a few days afterward, and the fact that I'm a slow reader, this would be no small accomplishment. My PR machine was cranking. It was all I could do to keep up with it. Nonetheless, I was--still am (not done reading it yet, and the meeting is tomorrow afternoon) dedicated to this task.

I was hoping I liked the book, because if I didn't--and especially since I had my own book coming out--I didn't wish to take part in a discussion just to blast it. After all, an author wrote that book too, and we can be sensitive. :)

Then I read the first line of The Rich Part of Life by Jim Kokoris.

The day we won the lottery I was wearing wax lips that my father had bought for the Nose Picker and me at a truck stop.

After one line, I already loved the storyteller and the mood. Wax lips. Calling your sibling a Nose Picker. Truck stops. Random wealth. Genius to me, because they're all elements--words with images--I find either fun (wax lips), can remember myself (sibling names) or invokers of warm memories (truck stops and my father.) By the time I got to page 206, I loved the story even more. Quirky characters always float my boat. I hope to find time to get to page 327, The End, by tomorrow's meeting.

But if I can't finish the book, my dilemma will be agonizing: Of course I'll want to go, I think. Hey, it'll be my first book club meeting! I'll be anxious to hear how others enjoyed, or not, the storytelling--the story. But what if they give the ending away, and I imagine they surely will. I assume satisfactory endings is a part of book club discussions, right?

To those of you who are used to clubbing books (I'll know what you mean), please weigh in here. If I don't finish, should I go? HELP A NEWBIE CLUBBER (well, maybe) OUT!


Anonymous said...

I would say go and enjoy. I bet you won't be the only one who didn't finish the book. I haven't been part of a book club for years because of my schedule, although I have done a couple of online discussion groups, and there are always those who don't finish for whatever reason. Not that big a deal.

Charlene Ann Baumbich said...

Thanks for your response, and your encouragement.

Do most clubs discuss the ending? If it's satisfactory? If so, and I haven't finished the book, will that feel like a spoiler to know how it ends?

Anyone? Anyone?

Marlene Frisbie said...

In my experience, the answer to your question is . . . it depends! Our book club has read a couple of books over the years that have endings that are very unexpected. When this is the case, we are very careful to let anyone present know in case they haven't finished the book. More typically, the ending isn't a big source of discussion. And as a previous poster mentioned, it's fairly common in our group that not everyone has finished the book.

I say go and enjoy! I bet they will be thrilled to have a flesh-and-blood author sharing her two cents!

Linda Weinmann said...

Yes, we would love to have you join us! As an employee of the Winona Public Library, we would be honored to have you attend our book club!

Dana Jensen said...

Go! Go! Go! I bet you have a wonderful time and I am certain you will have much to contribute whether or not you get to the end of the book. And thanks for the heads up on a book I'm gonna put on my to-be-read list!

Charlene Ann Baumbich said...

Just a little recap: I did finish the book, and I did attend the book club meeting. THANK YOU all for your encouragement!

I LOVED the book club. Casual, informative, thoughtful, enjoyable people and discussion. AND, we had cookies! I hope to attend again.