Thursday, February 18, 2016

Book Clubs on Goodreads

Hello again!

I'm hoping to get back on a regular schedule of one post a week, so bear with me as I navigate this particularly busy time of the year! In the meantime, I wanted to share a new experience of mine that I'm really enjoying -- that is, online bookclubs!

When I was younger, I joined a book club along with a group of my grade-level peers. I was relatively shy, so joining a discussion-based group felt intimidating to me, but it turned out to be my absolute favorite extracurricular. The group was run by a retired teacher (a woman who was an incredible role model for me at that age) and as I approach the finish line of grad school and daydream about my teaching practices in the future, I can't help but hope that one day I can establish a book club in that same tradition. The book club was made up of at least 10 girls, and we remained a group for years. We discussed one book each month (much of the time they are the books that still stand out to me now from childhood) and occasionally we dipped our toes into the author pool and tried our hand at writing our own fiction stories. I loved that the meetings brought together girls from all different friend groups and I was always so excited to pick up the next month's book and dive in to reading. 

I craved having that same type of community throughout college but never thought that a book club would be interesting to enough college students -- most of the time when I brought up the idea people would laugh at the concept of spending free time on more (unmandated) reading. I totally understand that feeling, because college can certainly be a place that discourages reading for pleasure.
Since I'm in a busy season -- and in between living on my own and frequently returning home -- a real book club still isn't in the cards for me right now. However, I recently joined two book clubs online and am loving the experience so far.

The first is Emma Watson's feminist book club, for which I just read My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem (review coming next week!) and the second is The College Prepster Book Club, run by one of my favorite bloggers. I just finished the book for that (The Fortune Hunter), so keep an eye out for that review as well. I haven't yet participated in the discussions online but I love knowing that a like-minded group of readers are enjoying the same book as me. I'm not sure I'll read the book every month (more likely, every other month) but I know so far that both are motivating me to read books that I wouldn't normally pick.


Are you a member of a book club? I'd love to hear about your experience!

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

A Reader's Dilemma

Earlier this year, I picked up The Cuckoo's Calling after owning it for several months. I was looking for a good mystery (these have been my favorite recently) and of course I had high expectations for the book, considering its author. I felt that I was a prime candidate for enjoying it, because not only do I regularly read mysteries, but I've been a fan of JK Rowling since I was about nine years old.

Would I have bought this book if I hadn't known that Robert Galbraith was a pseudonym of hers? There's really no way to tell, but I do tend to seek out lesser-known series so it's certainly a possibility. I've read the Harry Potter series more times than I can count, and -- despite the difficult transition away from Harry Potter -- I did really like Rowling's The Casual Vacancy when it came out a few years ago. So I had high hopes for this one when I started reading it.

My usual marker for judging whether or not I like a book is around the 100 page mark. In this case, I got to that point and was feeling so.incredibly.bored. Not a single thing had happened to draw in my interest, and I wasn't particularly fond of (or even motivated to learn more about) any of the characters. I posted this image on Instagram expressing my boredom and disappointment. Don't get me wrong here, JK is without a doubt my favorite author of all time. I love her writing style and think that she has immense talent, but I didn't see any of that come through. I wasn't captured in the way that I have been in reading her work before.

I put the book down (but haven't yet moved it to the donate pile), and was glad that I picked out a new one. I listened to this episode of my favorite podcast (you can read about how much I love the podcast in general here) about the book and I thought that their guest host, Margaret, did a great job expressing my same feelings/concerns in a much more eloquent way. (But be warned, the episode contains spoilers so if you're interested in reading the book, tread carefully.)

So, there's the dilemma. As an avid reader and lifelong fan of Rowling, do I continue to read this book, hoping that it will eventually hook me and I'll come to appreciate that slow beginning? Or do I move on to read one of the thousands more books that are worthy of my attention and waiting to be read? As a reader, what do I owe this author? A second chance? The benefit of the doubt? Or, as her use of a pseudonym suggests in the first place, do I merely judge this book as I would any other?

Are you one to always finish a book, or do you only continue reading what interests you?

Happy Reading!