Monday, January 29, 2018

Is there such a thing as a "book club" book?

I listen to the radio a lot – these are pics of just three of the radios we have around the house 😊. The other day I heard an excellent review of The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini. I enjoyed the book when I first read it a few years ago so I thought I might reread it. Interestingly, The Kite Runner started as a short story – it was the first thing Khaled ever wrote. It stayed in a drawer for a long time before Khaled plucked up the courage to show it to his uncle. After reading it, his uncle told him it wasn't finished. So, Khaled went back to his computer and every morning before he went to work he wrote a bit more and a bit more of the story. Finally, it became The Kite Runner. Perhaps beginning life as a short story is one of the reasons why I find second half of the novel less engaging than the first half? Who knows? But I'm digressing.

Prompted by the review, I was keen to discuss The Kite Runner with a writing chum. To my surprise, he said he'd not read the novel. Worse still, he called it a "book club" book, as if a "book club" book was somehow inferior to other books. I asked him to explain. He said "book club" books were generally books which had been "sensationalised" in the media – The Book Thief was another such book – and easier reads and more sentimental than other books. Gosh! I disagreed (rather strongly!).

The point of being in a book club, in my opinion, is to boldly explore books and writers we wouldn't normally explore. It definitely isn't to read the one type of book, and certainly not to be restricted to reading sentimental, easy-read books, whatever that means. At least, in the book club I go to we read a wide range of fiction. But perhaps I'm wrong? What do you think? Are you a member of a book club? If so, is there such a thing as a "book club" book and what exactly is that?

Finally, all you writers, how would feel if one of your books was a "book club" book? For my part, I'm always delighted, if not honoured, when a book club picks one of my books to read.


Sybil Johnson said...

I'm not a member of a book club, but I have friends who are. They seem to read a variety of books. I'd be happy to have any book I write be referred to as a "book club book", though I'm not sure there is such a thing. Really, I'm happy if people read my books at all.

Rick Blechta said...

I believe your friend suffers from a closed mind. Just because everyone is talking about a book, or it's been "sensationalized" (and what the heck does that mean?) has no bearing on whether it should be read or not. Reminds me of a saying of Yogi Berra, the baseball player famous for his malapropisms, when he said about a restaurant or bar, "Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded."

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Thanks for your comments, Sybil and Rick (oh, i enjoyed the Yogi Berra quote!) Glad I am not alone in my thinking :)

Aline Templeton said...

I'm no a member of a book club now but when I was we had a wide variety of books, from the classics to non-fiction,and it certainly broadened my reading horizons.I know what your friend means, though; a lot of the ones that get that label are popular and easy to read but don't have the 'genre' stigma to the bien pensant!