Last Saturday I went to a book discussion group at my local library. We discussed The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer. It was a really good book, written in the epistolic style, which meant it was written as a series of letters, notes, and telegrams. The story is set right after the end of World War II, and deals with how people are coping with the cleanup after the war. There are several stories of the terrible things that the Germans did to prisoners during the war, as well as other stories off how they also did noble things to help the people of the occupied islands. The book isn’t of a genre that I normally read, but I still found it to be very good. I rated it four out of five stars on Goodreads, so I would definitely recommend it to anyone.
The main reason that I attended the book discussion was to give me some insights into the mind of the average reader. I thought that doing so might help me evaluate my own writing to make it better. Of course, in this day and age the average reader doesn’t go to book clubs. But I still think the experience was a good one, and like I said, it was a good book.
Most of the group were older than me. I think a lot of them were either retired or close to retirement. It was led by one of the librarians and lasted about an hour and a half. We discussed the things we liked about the book, talked about the style, the characters, the history of the war that was covered by the book, and the authors. The librarian also talked about books written in a similar style and even a movie about the same topic. During the discussion I told the group that the reason I came was because I was a struggling author, and I found that I wasn’t the only one. Someone recommended I read A Reader’s Manifesto, by B.R. Meyers. So all in all I would say that the group was worth my time, and I plan on going back next month.
The book for discussion next month is One Amazing Thing, by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni. I may make this group a regular thing. If nothing else, it is a good topic for a monthly blog post.
What do you think about book groups? Do you belong to one? Do you think they might be dying out?