It's a good thing I'm not dating my book club, because they would have broken up with me for all the times I've stood them up.
This book club--with varied tastes in literature and both genders represented--has taught me a lot over the last few years. Aside from the great books I've read at their recommendation, it has been fascinating to witness so many perspectives from readers. Actual, live, they-don't-know-the-author readers. People who want to read and have an opinion about what they've read, and don't want to write. This stuff is gold.
People who aren't writers are allowed to enjoy themselves while they read. Not that I don't, but they have absolute freedom. After they've finished a book they'll express an opinion if a book club asks, but while they read they're unshackled by the thousands of hours I've spent trying to figure out how to write. They don't care what Vonnegut or Orwell said about the craft. At my book club we discuss characters, realism and believability, whether it was boring, whether it was racist or sexist. Yet we seldom have a conversation that contains any of the writer buzzwords: pace, plot, conflict, blah blah blah. Thank goodness for that.
I once talked someone around to disliking a book she'd read because I knew the writing was bad, and afterwards I felt terrible. What was the point of that? It didn't stop her from enjoying the thing while she'd read it (why would I want to ruin someone's enjoyment, anyway?) and her opinion while she'd read it was that it was great. So it was great. A book that entertains, gives a bit of joy, and sells well is a success no matter how poorly it's written. Don't make me bring up The Da Vinci Code. Again.
Writers are encouraged to read like writers, and I do. I always do. But it is really nice once in a while to see that there are still readers out there who know how to read like readers.
Photo: Book Drop: No Books, Please by mtsofan on flickr