I'm all out of sorts this week, due to the heat and a general sense of lethargy. This post (late!) will likely be brief, although I have lots to write about. I'm lacking time and enthusiasm right now, but I often try, when faced with the choice of doing something now or doing it later, to do it now. So I'm writing now.
My book club met today to discuss The Razor's Edge by W. Somerset Maugham. I was so worried that they wouldn't like it, that it was too difficult to get a copy and it wasn't worth the effort to read it, that it was dated, that they wouldn't like the characters; in short, all the usual worries I have when I've put on our list one of my favourite books. But of the 6 members who showed up today, only 2 didn't really like it, but did not despise it vehemently. And of the other 4 members, at least 3 really liked it, and the other found the characters and situations maddening but couldn't wait to finish it to find out what happened. We spent more than 2 hours discussing it, and still we could have talked about it for much longer, but we had to go. I'd say that represents a successful book club selection. We talked about the characters, their interactions, philosophy, Hinduism and Christianity, India, spirituality, sincere release from worldly goods versus that which is just for show, relationships, whether marriage without deep love and passion can be happy, and many other complex and interesting topics that are explored in the novel. We also talked about Maugham as a writer and a person. In my not-very-indepth research on him (I love Wikipedia!), I found out that he had been the highest paid author in the 1930s, bisexual, and a British spy in WWI. A collection of short stories based on his experiences as a spy had supposedly influenced Ian Fleming's James Bond series. We definitely had a long and lively discussion today, which makes me very happy.
This is an example of a situation where I, as facilitator, put on our list a favourite book of mine, with the expectation, or hope, that everyone will love it. But then the worries begin. What if they don't love it? What if they don't even like it? This has only happened once, where most of the group did not like the book that is one of my favourites. That was hard to bear, and I found myself initially defending the book, but then I had to let go and allow that everyone experiences a book differently, and that just because I thought it was brilliant, not everyone else would share my opinion. So I let it go. If you recommend a book to someone, you have to be prepared to accept his or her response to it, and this is especially true in a book club setting. As long as it generates good discussion, whether the members like it or not, it is a good selection.
That's all for tonight.
Bye for now!