Jude Collins

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

In the club

Yesterday evening we had the final meeting of our book club for this year.  Most of us are former or current teachers, which is probably why we think of the year as beginning in September and ending in June.  The teacher thing may also go a little way to explaining our love of books.  We meet once a month in my place and it's always a happy, food-for-thought occasion.  We don't always engage in high literary criticism but it's surprising how often an honest reaction can find an echo in the views of other people in the group, and something that hadn't been thought about becomes clear.  The other thing that strikes me is the speed with which people like to test what they read against their own experience. It's not so much 'Is this character realistic?' as 'I can identify with that character because...' and an incident from life is produced that gives a clue as to the universality of the fictional character or episode.

I also like our meetings because, unlike a purely social gathering, it has a focal point in the book we've chosen to read. I'd describe myself as a fairly open-minded and consistent consumer of fiction, but since we  started this book club two years ago,  my range of reading has been extended beyond recognition. Authors and topics that I'd never have thought of exploring have been made available to me and I feel grateful for it.

And as I glance around the room and listen to the voices (sometimes in their excitement talking over each other) I feel confirmed in a belief I've had since I was a child and got my two books per week from the local lending library: anybody who enjoys reading fiction can't be totally bad.

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