Friday, 25 May 2007

On books and friends

I missed going to my book club last night. My sight is still a bit wobbly after the tadpoles in the sky incident, so I felt driving home from the town in the dark would be too risky. The group are all previous work colleagues, some now in early retirement and others are still 'in the thick of it' career women. It’s usually a great meeting. All of us are a bit spiky and bitchy but supportive of each other in our own way. They are sharp, funny and argumentative by turns, all willing to disagree, dish the dirt and listen to each other, offence seldom taken and usually never meant. We even get round to discussing the book occasionally.

This lively forum has ruined me for any other book group I’ve ever thought of joining. I was invited to one but turned it down when I realised the wife of a former boss would also be a member. I’ve nothing against the woman, but knew that I couldn’t trust myself to be civil about him, so thought it best to stay away.

Meeting up with my old group means a longish drive into town so, as part of my, ‘getting to know people in the village’ campaign, I a responded to an advert in the village bookshop. It said, ‘New members wanted for established reading group’ . Promising a warm welcome with stimulating discussion it seemed just the job and a way to get to know some like minded people.

Their daunting booklist for the past seven years arrived along with the title of the tome of the month and the address of the next venue. Until I get to know people I tend to be a bit quiet, so the first couple of sessions went quite well, but on the third occasion I found the book really not to my taste. Anxious not to offend people I hardly knew, when it came to my turn I diplomatically offered that I thought the book was, ‘sweetly pretty, but lacked any substance’. I smiled brightly then, to my embarrassment, noticed the woman who’d chosen the book looked distinctly upset. She bravely blew her nose and said that she couldn’t believe I could be so unkind about her favourite book, a book she had loved since girlhood. A horrible silence followed, only broken when our host quickly suggested we all had some tea. I drank mine feeling it might be poisoned.

After that I decided perhaps that book group was too well established and far too polite for me. Any one out there wishing to form a reading group? I promise I won’t make any hasty or critical comments, at least not for the first couple of weeks.

9 comments:

countrymousie said...

Good idea - perhaps we could have a purple book club - we could call it "The colour Purple" - we could have a book a month like the actual clubs and discuss it on line, couldnt we. Go on, I'll join. love mousie PS Take care of those eyes.

The Country Craft Angel said...

Oh, you poor thing. I actually thought you were very tactful and balanced with your comment. You can always guarantee that sod's law will come into it somewhere.

Sure the purplecoo would be a good alternative and you can feel free to say as you see fit!

warm wishes

Cait O'Connor said...

I run a book club at the library and I know what you mean, you feel you have to be a bit tactful if you don't like a book. Especially as I am the librarian and it's a small community I don't want to upset them. I don't care if people don't like my choice but some people are very sensitive aren't they? In an online group you can say what you really feel about a book without offence, one would hope :>)
Caitx

toady said...

Open gob, insert foot, panic, run away. Sounds just like me.

UN PEU LOUFOQUE said...

And that is why my bookclub is long distnane as I can be as rude as I like and no one is offended!

Suffolkmum said...

Loved your description about your book club, sounds like mine. Oh dear - sounds like the woman was being a bit over sensitive! I've got used to recommending truly brilliant books, only for my ravings to fall on deaf ears! Love the idea of a purplecoo book club.

snailbeachshepherdess said...

I've never been in a book club - they dont have such things up here perched on a lump of quartzite facing Wales - Go - on start one in purple land - if we dont like the book we can pick another can't we?

Pondside said...

I'm in! I loved your description of your bookclub because is sounds like one I was in. I was new here and desperate to get to know people and thought the invitation to join the bookclub a great way in. WRONG. The first year they read the kind of books I like to take to the beach. The next year they read religious books. By year three they were on self help and I was on my way out. We had nothing at all in common and I think they were glad to see the back of me!

Exmoorjane said...

I sacked my book group (well, OK, I removed myself) as they were just toooooo boring. They thought wine meant a thimble-full and, after a half-hearted discussion of the book in question would earnestly debate politics.... eeeek.