Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

Once we got past this not being a literary work, we settled down to talk about the book.  Maureen said she thought it was a book club light weight, the group concurred because it certainly is that. I reminded them that we said that year we'd like a couple of books that don't leave us wrung out and exhausted.  Aurora, one of the library staff asked me afterwards how the group liked it because she had loved it and she's a hearty reader.  The publisher wrote, "In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry (we have read both), Gabrielle Zevin's enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books - and booksellers."

We actually had started today's discussion with a throw-back discussion to All the Light We Cannot See.  Angela asked the group why they loved it so much when all she could say was that she didn't dislike it.  Oh boy, did we line up the reasons because the rest of us had loved it.  She thanked us and said that made more sense.  Patricia said the same about this book - she didn't love it but she didn't dislike it.  The rest of us had really enjoyed it though were taken aback by it's "beach read" quality, and it is a solid beach read.  Patricia then back pedaled and said that on the other hand, this would be an excellent book to place in the hands of a reluctant reader.

We talked some about the authors comments in the afterward which she echoed in A.J.'s voice.  She said she readers faster on an e-reader but she forgets more than when she's reading a paper copy and questioned if it's the act of turning pages that solidifies the story in our minds.  We commiserated with her about wanting to share a book we enjoy which is complicated if we've don't have a physical copy.

I told Kathy I thought about her many times in the book since the author addressed "reader response" on a number of occasions.  The delicious element was that we had book discussions in the story about books that we have read.  Jenny said she liked it, all but the ending.  But the twist had been predicted from the beginning.

It's one of the oddest books we've read and I say that based on the discussion.  I felt the story heading in a predictable direction, though I certainly didn't expect the twist, and it ended on a happy note.  So many books we read do not.  With all the book discussions throughout the book, it was a very satisfactory read for me.

They can tell when I like a book by all the yellow stickies across the top of the pages, and I read from a half dozen of them today.  The last one I read was "What bothers me in a story more than anything is a loose end," Deputy Doug Lippman says, selecting four mini-quiches from the hors d'oeurves Lambiase has provided.  After many years of hosting the Chief's Choice Book Club, Lambiase knows that the most important thing, even more than the title at hand, is food and drink."

I told the group that I chose that to show that there are book clubs without a facilitator, because they will soon be in that situation.  We are in the process of moving to Bend, Oregon when we have two sons and two grandsons.  We're going to the wedding of the youngest son this weekend and have decided that we need to live where they are.

The only reason this group has a facilitator is because it's a library program and I continued to perform that role after I retired as a library volunteer, which requires fingerprinting and the whole nine yards.  But the library is willing to offer the space for free if the group wants to continue.  Kareen suggested that once the group selects the books for the year each member chose the book they'd like to facilitate.  Kathy felt like that might be a stretch since our lives change from month to month.  I said the book clubs I've been in before were unfacilitated, that we read the book and came prepared.  Maureen said that has been her experience in past book clubs, but a person offered to moderate the book and came prepared with a little history behind the story or author bio.  Mary thought that we were already doing some positive things:  we meet in a neutral space, we sit around a table which provides a barrier and feeling of safeness, we create a list in advance so we know what we're reading, we have a set time to meet each month, and we come prepared to talk about the book.

Jana, the programs librarian, is going to come in and address our concerns next month.  The two things the group needs to figure out is how to manage book selection and how to organize meeting facilitation.  It's doable.