Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Most Important Rule of Book Club

Books we have read
I belong to a Book Club and we meet the second Saturday of the month. The club membership has evolved over the years. Although it began in 1998, I've only been a member since 2003. We have two married couples, various unattached singles, and a couple that has been dating since meeting each other in book club. I am married, but am in book club solo. I have brought in one of my long-time friends who also participates without her significant other. We all like the fact that our club is co-ed, since it helps cultivate the book selection variety.

As far as I have been able to figure out, there are several rules of book club.
  1. You have to have already read the book before selecting it. We don't want anyone to judge the book by its cover.
  2. Don't select a book that's on the best seller list. Best sellers are easy to pick up and read on your own. Part of the joy of book club is your exposure to books you might not otherwise read.
  3. The book should be readily available, preferably in paperback, or at least available from the local library.

In my experience with book club, all of the above rules have been broken at one time or another. And that is the first rule of book club: that although there are rules, they sometimes get broken!

However, there is another rule, a rule that apparently is so in-grained with our group that it has never been articulated: an unspoken, yet firmly adhered-to rule.

Thou shalt not peak into any participant's book bag, since it may contain the next month's selection.
The selection is unveiled with a dramatic buildup at the end of our meeting. Early exposure of a book selection can rob the selector of his or her highly anticipated offering, a selection that has been incubating in the Book Club Possibility Bin for perhaps many months.

Well, unspoken rules like this one exist solely in our common psyche until a newcomer, who hasn't quite assimilated into the group, breaks the rule. The raucous! The affront! And yes, my poor, unsuspecting book club guest, who bravely attended on her own since I was sick at the last moment, innocently peaked into Chad's curious-looking brown paper bag. Taken by surprise, Chad quickly reacted to the faux pas, grabbing the bag away from her before any damage was done. Relief! My startled invitee could only ask "What? What did I do?" And thus, the Most Important Rule of Book Club was finally, clearly, and unambiguously verbalized for all.
Next Entry: Yielding Up to the Dark Impulse


Anonymous said...

The original 'first rule of book club' was 'never discuss the books outside of book club.' At least since the club read "Fight Club", which is full of rules.

P.S., It makes me proud to be an old fogy (expletive exchanged). My book club is now in the blogosphere. Go, Gail!

Anonymous said...

since I am the 'guilty party' - i.e I did look unknowingly in that little brown bag....really, who would bring a book in a little brown bag? Gail unfortunately missed the incident - claiming 'illness' that evening :-)

I remain - despite of that event - a dedicated 'book club' member! Linda

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we need some book club cyber rules so we can begin to break them, too. Thanks for including us in your blog, Gail. We've graduated from bitchen to cool.


Gail said...

Pete - after reading Memories of My Melancholy Whores, you're nowhere old enough to claim 'old fogy'. (Oops, did I just break a book club rule?)

Anonymous said...

Actually, and I have this from a highly placed source in the Administration who wishes to remain anonymous because of you know what, the First Rule of Book Club is confidential and known only to the NSA who broke the encryption during the wiretap blitz of '05 and has refused all Freedom Of Information requests from me and my publisher at the Times.

Otherwise I would add it to this string.


Gail said...

"Oh! what a tangled web we weave / When first we practise to deceive!" (Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, VI, 17).
Thanks, Tom for the post! And, tangled though it be, I think I actually followed it.

Anonymous said...

I love the way these books give us a shared culture and language and how the books build on each other. We'll meet the real dirty old man next week.

Great picture of the books, Gail.