Because I have 4 books to read for December-January’s book discussions (two in English and two in French—what was I thinking??), I started reading the first sure thing, which was Will Schwalbe’s The End of your Life Book Club. As Gail commented on the blog: “It sounds like a good beginning book for a beginning book club.” 🙂
It’s a book about many things (that we’ll soon have a chance to discuss), but it has already set my mind to wondering about the sharing of books, about book clubs, and about reading as a social experience.
Does this seem contradictory? Is reading not a delicious, solitary activity? It is. But it’s so much more.
What do our reading habits reveal about us? Is getting to know someone through their reading patterns and choices likely to lead to a different perception of them? A fuller understanding of them?
Is sharing and talking about a book a distinct means of communication? Is it the stuff of friendship?
Looking at the people in my life, I want to answer yes, yes, yes…
There is the friend I met when her daughter and my eldest sons started grade school: a pragmatic, no-nonsense, feet-on-the-ground, active and problem-solving woman, who, as soon as she has a spare second, curls up in a comfortable chair and devours the novels of such fantasy and science-fiction authors as Piers Anthony, Robert Jordan or Isaac Azimov, only to turn next to the French classics: Verne, Hugo, Balzac. There are dreams and hopes that only the reader in her explores.
I have been privy to the twists and turns of an epic love story as two of my colleagues passionately discussed, over lunch, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series that one read in English and the other, in French.
There is also the man I often see at the café in Pointe-Claire Village. He usually sits outside. He carries a small note pad with curled up corners, and a pen. The books he reads are almost always pocketsize; their spines, narrow. He is built like a weightlifter, but it’s his beret that gives him away: he reads poetry. Almost exclusively. He attends poetry workshops and readings in his abundant spare time: he is retired. If you ask him about poetry, he lights up. He beams. You have become his friend.
And every time my sons, my daughter-in-law and I stumble upon a literary discovery that we just have to share, such as the beautiful detective novels of Eliot Pattison or every Rebus in print, I am rejuvenated by the way that books bridge the gaps between generations.
So who needs Facebook, Twitter, or a smartphone? As long as there are books to read and to share, there is the possibility of connection and friendship.