Thursday, August 27, 2009

Don't judge a book by its cover

This evening, I joined a book club.

Since I'm a list-making kind of girl I weighed the pros and cons carefully before signing up.

  • The club is in town (and within reasonable walking distance).
  • Tonight was the club's first meeting (thereby nullifying the awkwardness of being a newcomer).
  • The club is for 20- and 30-somethings (that's me!).
  • The club focuses -- obviously -- on books (which I love!).
  • Book club people can be nerdy (which I am, but with admirable social skills).
  • Book clubs sometimes read pretentious stuff (when I'm busy re-reading Harriet the Spy).
  • Book clubs can involve investing in books (which was only temporarily a con, since I figured I could beat everyone to the library and grab a free copy!).
So, with free library books overruling having to buy books, the pros definitely won, and I went to the meeting.

When I arrived I was mildly horrified when it was announced that most members wanted to read historical fiction. Historical fiction? No, thank you. In metered doses, perhaps, but not taking over my life. The proposed books were Sula, The Sound and the Fury, The Most Famous Man in America: The Biography of Henry Ward Beecher, and The Good Earth. I don't even know that they were all "historical," unless you count being written awhile back "history." I wasn't terribly interested in any of them, though I thought I'd give Sula or The Good Earth a go if I had to.

Then, a savior! An attractive, fit, tattooed guy walked in and approached our table. He looked more likely to be heading for the gym, a bar, or something else manly and cool than to be seeking out our book club. Our club was decidedly not manly or cool. We had but one man among us and the rest of us were women -- a few of us polished and tidy, a few others sloppily dressed, none of us downright cool.

Once he joined us, I thought Tattoo Guy would be an ally. Here's a guy, I thought, that will enjoy a good crime novel or something funny like one of A.J. Jacobs's books. I am not alone! We can sway the populace!

I was sadly mistaken. It turns out that Tattoo Guy reads about history almost exclusively. He's also the type to read several books at once (as am I), but since they sounded like big, scary, involved books, I gave him more credit for reading half a dozen at a time. Do not judge a book by its cover! I thought lamely, no pun (originally) intended.

In the end, we decided on The Most Famous Man in America (though how famous can the man be if I've never even heard of him?) and I, peer pressured by my new-found nerd friends, will be reading something that I find mind-numbingly dull. Tattoo Guy will probably be quite pleased. I've read a few pages thus far and it's going to be a long journey for me. One that traipses through quite a bit of boredom, but leads to what Calvin's dad (of Calvin and Hobbes fame) would call "character building."

If nothing else, I hope that the book club finds me some new friends or acquaintances, if not (at least this month) new favorite books. As I walked to the library to borrow a copy of this month's book, I spoke with another attendee, Linda, who was very friendly and not overly nerdy. She seems pleasant and I can imagine being friends with her. Since Tattoo Guy didn't work out as an ally, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that maybe Linda will have a secret infatuation with Helen Fielding or Susan Jane Gilman and will second my nomination for something a little frivolous the next time around. At the very least, perhaps we'll read the biography of someone I've heard of.

Here's to hoping!

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