As the title suggests, I attended my very first book club meeting tonight. It is called the Arabian Nights Book Club and is held the first Tuesday of the month at the Arabian Library in Scottsdale.
Although now I think of it I should actually say, I attended my first club as an adult as I had been involved in plenty of book discussions and clubs during school. In sixth grade I was even on a competitive book reading team in which we competed with other schools in the Battle of the Books. Yeah, I was that kid. And honestly I am still that adult. So it is understandable when I was on the library’s website and saw they had book clubs, I got giddy and marked it on my calendar as soon as I could. I then zipped down to the library the same day and checked out the book assignment for July’s meeting.
The book assignment was “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George. It follows a man named Perdu who runs a book shop upon a barge in Paris and has had the thoughts of an old love from twenty years ago haunt him since finding and reading an old letter from her. He decides to cast his book barge off into to the canals of France in search of his long lost love or some remnants of her so he can truly confront his feelings for her. He takes this journey with a young popular author, Max, who is also lost and trying to find inspiration for his new book, and Max ends up finding a little bit about himself as well. There are brilliantly written characters that all have their place not only in Perdu’s journey, but in showing how the small towns of France have an affect on people as the landscapes are wonderfully written as characters themselves. For anyone who loves a love story or simply loves France, this is definitely one to pick up.
As I entered the meeting I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had prepared a bit by picking out some of my favorite quotes from the book and rehearsing what I hoped would be some earth shaking insight no one else had heard. They would then all nod in agreement with a look on their face that would say “gosh why didn’t I think of that?” However when I walked in the room, the social anxiety kicked in and told me that I would be a quiet observer this evening. However as the night went on, I realized that this was a group of people that were not there to judge anything the others said. They were readers. They listen to people’s opinions and interpretations of things for fun, so they appreciated all of the different emotions and thoughts that were being shared by the group. Well, there was your stereotypical elderly person who had a strong opinion, who at times countered any of the ideas she thought didn’t make sense. She was full of good stories though, one of which was her running into her crush Robert Redford while skiing who ended up being more interested in her friend than her. This environment made me summon up the courage to speak my opinion on the book and other topics that stemmed from the material, and really opened my mind to listen to what others felt and why they felt that. I was in a place where I didn’t feel like an imposter even though most of the people knew each other as they had been in the club for quite some time. It was a nice space where there was no right or wrong, just people who were connected by the fact that we had all gone on this journey with Nina George and wanted to meet to talk about it.
It was really refreshing considering the atmosphere of discussion these days. Most social media places of discussion are full of comments where we are so quick to tell someone their opinion is wrong even if it is simply different than ours. We are quick to insult people in terrible ways simply because of their opinion on something as trivial as a video of a pet. We play devil’s advocate for no apparent reason. There are not many examples of people listening and attempting to understand and appreciate the opinions and experiences of others.
This book club was exactly what I hoped it would be, and I can’t wait for the next one. The book for August is “Educated” by Tara Westover and will be on 8/6 from 5:30 to 7:00pm at the Arabian Library. For more information, visit the library’s interactive calendar here, or to carpool or read the book together, shoot an email to email@example.com
For anyone who has read this book or has been fortunate to be a part of a book club, leave your comments below to share your thoughts!
Au revoir mes amis!