A few weeks ago I discussed how I was going to counter empty nesthood: by joining two book clubs. One at my local Barnes and Noble which would be discussing new and noteworthy (aka hyped) books and one at an independent book store focusing on foreign books in translation.

Fine.

Except, all my IRL friends said that I was totally going to the Barnes and Noble one. And they added, there was no way I was going to the foreign book one.

Oh how well my friends know me.

This past Monday I did indeed skip the independent bookstore club (I mean- I didn’t read the book, so, you know…) and on Tuesday I went to the B&N one.

First off- great success to the B&N club. It was run by two young enthusiastic readers who came prepared with great questions and the ability to keep the group in line. There were probably about fifteen of us in all, fourteen women and one lone man. Why do men not like book clubs? The majority of the women were older than me, but there one or two younger. In all, it was a lively group filled with varied opinions and ideas and thoughts. The conversation solidly revolved around the book for the hour. I will definitely be going again next month.

Here’s the thing about me and reading and book clubs. I love to discuss books. I love discussing how the author moved the plot forward, or what devices were used. I love questioning why something was done in a certain way. But sometimes I wonder if I read books differently than others.

The book we discussed was “Lost Roses” by Martha Hall Kelly, the prequel to “Lilac Girls” (which I read and disliked as well) I made a point about a part of the book I thought was preposterous, and no one else had picked up on it. After I said it, a few people opened there mouths and said – “Oh wow- I didn’t think of that. that’s right.” But some people just stared at me. I made another point about how a character acted in a particular scene and I said I lost all sympathy for her after that scene, and people again said they hadn’t thought of it like that. So I can’t help but wonder: am I odd? Do I read into things differently than others? Do I look for oddities?

When you read a book, how do you read it? I know we all know how to read, and as bloggers and blog readers, we’re actually pretty good at it. But how carefully and critically do you look at novels that you’re reading? (and don’t talk to me about grammar because we all know that I don’t do grammar and will not fault anyone for incorrect grammar) When it comes to characters, do you actively look for the subtle moments when they change? Do you notice inconsistencies in plot line?

I know numerical inconsistencies drive me crazy. The only time I ever emailed an author had to do with ages of her characters- she changed the age of several characters several times (and it wasn’t a self published book!!!)

So, what makes you question a book? What makes you decide you like, or don’t like a book? Inquiring minds want to know.

 

91 thoughts on “The Book Clubs- Part 2

  1. I either tend to find more flaws and issues in books I don’t like or the books I like don’t have those issues. I haven’t quite figured it out. So, I really think that what I see and pick up in a book really depends on the book. If a book really sucks me in and I get so absorbed in it, the real world falls away… I honestly can’t say that it is free of errors and that is what allows that to happen or if I just overlook them. I have read books where the errors or plot holes will yank me out of a story, so I don’t think that I just overlook them. And yes, for me a lot of the smaller details tend to be important and if you mess those up, I’m going to get frustrated or even really upset.

    Having gone through a full editing process, I have a better appreciation for how some of those mistakes can get made and missed, especially small ones that may leave a little hiccup in the time line, but for the most part, there really aren’t any excuses for those kinds of things. It is absolutely hard as hell to catch them all, but when it comes to things like character ages, background histories and other things like timelines, those are the bones of the story and should always, ALWAYS be checked, rechecked and quadruple checked to ensure you are catching as many of them as possible. Having any of those major pieces screwed up is something I tend to catch and irritates the hell out of me as a reader.

    Views on characters and likeability seems to vary widely based on readers and their personal tastes and experiences. That seems like a pretty obvious statement, but I was floored by the hugely different opinions and perspectives I got on my main character from the different people that read for me early on. I know certain traits written into characters are going to color that character for me because of my opinions of those traits. Someone who doesn’t have those same opinions won’t see that character the same way.

    I am a very emotional reader. I need to feel emotionally connected to the story and the characters to really like it. That and I want to get so absorbed the real world falls away for a while. Those two things are not required to be in the same book, but most times those are the best for me. If my emotions are engaged and I’m engrossed in the story, there is an incredibly high chance I’m going to love the book.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I agree. To really enjoy a book I need to feel an emotional connection. But my ability to find inconsistencies and flaws is probably why I don’t give five star reviews. I always find some issue within the book tha5 takes away from its perfection, though I could enjoy it despite the flaws

      Liked by 2 people

  2. A book that you can’t put down until you finish the last page and the plot denouement. Even if the characters rail and are inconsistent, you don’t notice because a good book captures your attention.

    Liked by 6 people

  3. For me, it rather varies according to how “into” a book I am, how many books I’m reading, etc. I sometimes notice inconsistencies in the plot, but don’t really care much unless it’s major. The books that I like the best are those for which the author has been able to help me understand the characters or relate to them, somehow.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I think I read more carefully when I know I’m reading something for a book discussion. And sometimes I purposely read light, fun books that I know won’t make me think too hard

      Liked by 4 people

  4. I’ve always believed that there’s an emotional component that grabs me in the first chapter or two and if that doesn’t happen then I most likely will not like the book and stop reading. Your question is interesting though and sort of makes me want to analyze more in depth the little nuances that may be at play rather than simply an emotional connection. What defines that? Is there more keeping me turning the page and what? What about character versus plot versus just horrible writing?

    Here’s a thought that just crossed my brain…tied to the upcoming empty nest issue. Perhaps you should consider starting an online reading club?? You have so many readers of this blog and so many who have amazing ability to comment in insightful ways and share opinions. Perhaps leading your own club with some of us as interested members would be a practical and fun idea to consider??!! 🙂

    Liked by 5 people

    1. That’s an interesting idea, starting an online book forum of some sort. Pick a book, think of different ways to discuss it. I’d actually like to do something like that. I should figure out the best way to do that….thank you!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I’m a mood reader, which isn’t always fun. I can’t always find the kind of book I want to read when I’m in the mood to read it, so that makes it kind of a pain.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I get that, but I think the challenge might be fun. Step out of the comfort zone of what we may normally choose to read. I think I’m craving the idea of doing something a little more in-depth, something akin to literary analysis but without real academic pressure! I figure that if I really could not bring myself to read a selected text then I would just sit out that specific discussion!!

        Liked by 3 people

  5. Bad grammar and typos are a definite turnoff for me. There’s no excuse for them when a book is offered from a publishing company. [Different standard when a book is self-published.]

    If I get bored with the location of a book I’ll stop reading it regardless of the characters. I find the setting is to me as important as the relationships among the characters.

    I tire of high falutin language quickly. References to obscure academic topics, unless fully explained, put me to sleep.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. That’s what I love about discussion groups. I always think there’s one way to view something, but 12 people have 12 different opinions. Sure, there are universal likes and dislikes, but there’s nothing better than a group of people discussing ideas

        Liked by 3 people

      2. “12 people have 12different opinions.” You have answered your own question about whether you read books differently from other people :). That’s a yes and a yes for your online book club.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I think you are justified in the way you read and assess books. You are a writer and a thinker. Therefore, you read with scrutiny. Quite honestly, I’ve put down books simply because I didn’t like the author’s writing style, use of first person, or lack of detail etc. Unfortunately, I read like a teacher. So I tend to subconsciously grade the plot elements of a novel and if then characters aren’t truly three dimensional then they loose me.
    As far as believable characters, I happen to like science fiction and fantasy too, so I can read “Lord of the Rings” and love it because even though those characters are not “real” they are written as believable. Tolkien’s mastery of story telling is brilliant. So any creature he invents becomes intricately believable.
    I’d enjoy being in a book club with you. You bring up a point of view and a depth others may not see. That’s exciting. I used to be in a great book club where wonderful discussions went on. It disbanded due to certain members relocating and one member passed from cancer so it was never the same and fell apart. Right now I need to find a new group where we can ask those kind of questions and explore books, plots, and characters in great depth. That’s hard to find.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My building book club is pretty good….we stay focused most of the time, and there’s open and interesting dialogue. I think this bn group is going to be good as well, because we’re not “friends” just people who love to read, and of different backgrounds and have different viewpoints. The problem is finding people who really love to read and think and analyze, people who actually want to discuss why the author did, or did not do, certain things.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Yes! I agree. The book group I recently joined was more interested in going to lunch than discussing the novel. I wanted to discuss the story and they just wanted to eat and chat. So it wasn’t working for me. I can go to lunch with my own friends. I wanted a book discussion.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I know! Don’t you hate that? I want to actually discuss a book! I chat with my friends all the time. I look forward to discussing novels!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Exactly! I always feel like the oddball. I’m the one who types up questions just to make sure we focus on the book and then the lunch bunch got annoyed. So I stopped going to that group.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. The sexual demographic surprises me LA, perhaps men anticipate Book Clubs will be predominately female in number, the consequence they don’t go and the Club IS all female! I’m also wondering if sexual politics comes into play, several years ago I began French language evening classes at my local Technical College, although I MOST definitely didn’t attend so as to pick up women I’ll be quite honest and admit if a middle aged woman showed interest I may well have.

    As we’ve discussed before, speaking as a red blooded guy I fear we men are always on the look out for opportunities or is that rather sexist of me? Interesting all the same as to why more women than men join Book Clubs.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I hate to think that’s the reason. I suppose age and marriage status has something to do with it regarding men. Also, not to generalize but most men prefer male protagonists and women are usually more diversified in their tastes. We read novels with male AND female protagonists. Many men don’t. It’s often out of their comfort zone.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Lesley I had wanted to reply to your earlier comment because I think you ‘hit the nail on the head’ so to speak. I’m not being sexist when I say women will congregate in numbers and love to chat about everything under the sun (fascinating conversations they are TO!) At our works Xmas party after finishing our meals the women dragged their chairs towards other tables for a sociable chat with other women. When I did Jury duty recently the men would sit alone in the waiting room while the women would again form groups for a convivial chat……….. perhaps the answer is female mammals feel naturally comfortable and at ease within Groups of other females.

        Btw joining a Book Club does interest me if only to discuss the book we’re reading.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Hmmmm… I think it depends on the man. My father was rather serious but would converse when prompted. I’ve had two husbands. My first was an actor and director in the theater and therefore very chatty and conversed easily in mixed company. He’d be at ease in a book club. My second husband was a history professor and didn’t read fiction. He read biographies and history books. And would not have enjoyed a book club at all. I have two sons. One is a film director. (His father was the history teacher). He is like I am. Very chatty with both men and women. He and I have extensive discussions on books. Movies, characters etc. he’d be perfect in a book club but as a director his schedule involves crazy hrs so that would never happen right now at this stage in his life. My older son is the director of a non profit organization. He can hold a great conversation and because of his job is extremely friendly. But I doubt he’d ever be in a book club. He’d be on an adult basketball team instead. So it just depends. My older son’s Free time involves sports or his kids. My younger son is always working going from one film to another film or one tv show to another show. On weekends he builds wood furniture and hikes. So time and one’s job is a factor. But, My youngest son would come in and sit down and chat with my friends when he was a kid, He’s just friendly. I think it’s probably easier for most women, but plenty of men, especially as they retire, get involved in activities that they didn’t do in their youth.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I know my husband would never discuss books. But my friend sf is always up for a book discussion. Of course he’s a writer/editor, but who knows

        Liked by 1 person

      4. In the book The Jane Austen Book Club (and in the film) it made it more interesting to have a man in the book group. I enjoyed the film a lot. If you haven’t seen it watch it. It shows how different men and women are and yet Austen brings them together. But the male perspective is indeed different.

        Liked by 3 people

      5. I actually just watched that movie last weekend. And you’re right. Hugh dancy made a wonderful addition because his view was different

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Yes! I agree. I really liked that too. Plus, his character was quite interesting. It was a unique group for sure. Loved how every perspective was different for each person and then added to that the male perspective.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Exactly. I thought the fighting between the teacher and the adventurer was a little forced, but it was a great look at how different people get different things out of the same book

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Exactly! Yes, Emily Blunt’s character was quite interesting. I think that was the first film I ever saw her in. And I would not have taken back Jimmy Smits. But his wife’s character evolved so much that I felt like she could live with or without him. I will have to watch that movie again. It’s been years. I just remember really enjoying all the perspectives.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. It popped up on either my amazon or Netflix recommended and it was perfect movie for me at that moment. I was surprised Amy took back jimmy too

        Liked by 1 person

      10. A fascinating comment Lesley, and yes my observation is a rather shallow GENERALISATION perhaps tainted by the fact I’ve worked in predominately male engineering factories my entire life enough said! I am a rather quiet and introverted soul like my late father, my sibling is sociable gregarious and outgoing like his mother, I guess all human traits are a product of our genes although I would agree socialising is easier for ladies.

        Liked by 3 people

      11. And also you are single so in a social setting it would be more natural for you to see women possibly in a different light. After my second husband died I went to a short term grief group. It was Mostly women but a few men. There was one guy in there clearly on the hunt. The counselor stated that if anyone was present or using the group as a dating service then to please never return. These people were suffering and this guy made up about losing a spouse to meet vulnerable women. It was crazy!

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      12. 😮 Omg a guy praying on vulnerable ladies is truly appalling, a predator for sure! As you say when interacting with women I do dwell on the possibility of a relationship because yes I am single………….. though lol I DO have platonic female friends as you’d expect 😀 .

        Liked by 2 people

      13. Well you being a single guy that’s pretty natural. And that guy got the message. He stopped coming. It was only a few months. But it was a lovely way to share the loss of a partner and know you’d move on with your life. Some of these women had been married their entire lives and they were devastated. They needed to learn basic life skills.

        Liked by 2 people

      14. Have you watched the new Netflix show “dead to me”? It’s about two women who meet at a grief support group. It’s a bit dark and twisty though…I haven’t finished it, but it’s pretty interesting

        Like

      15. My father passed away 3 weeks ago and since then 🙂 my mother has immersed herself in societies, clubs, coffee mornings, invites from fabulous friends……….. in fact we laugh because it’s hard to get hold of her, but I’d suggest being around people is the key to rebuilding her life.

        Liked by 2 people

      16. It’s funny cause my husband is way more “social” than I am, but much more surface. When I get together with friends we talk about ideas, and about our families. My husband seems to go out and talk about sports very surface stuff

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      17. My husband will go out with his friends and when I ask how the guys wives and kids are, he’ll say they never came up at all! Amazes me

        Liked by 2 people

  8. I look for a conversation and showing/not telling emotion. I like characters that made me look at life differently. Currently rereading Great Gatsby and loving the languid flow of his writing. I can practically feel the breeze on my face. Also reading The Alchemist and appreciate the truth and the book are similar to many I’m finding in my own life. ❤️🙏🧡

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I don’t read books often, so I want to relax and enjoy them when I do. It might ruin the fun to read with the idea of contributing to a discussion. As it is, I digest a book for several days after finishing it. I mull it over, sometimes changing my opinion of it. I would be very disappointed to hear other people bashing one I liked or praising one I detested. I guess I’m a hermit reader.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Sometimes books make me so happy, or mad, or feel something and I want to share it, but it needs to be with someone who has read it. It happens with most books I read

        Liked by 3 people

  10. I can forgive a lot of flaws in a book if the story is told well. If the characters are dimensional, the writing flows well, or the plot is interesting and well-paced, then I can forgive flaws in other areas. But if one thing is done poorly and then other flaws start stacking up, then I am less forgiving of the book.

    Case in point: Wicked Saints by Emily A. Duncan is a YA dark fantasy novel I read a couple of months ago. I started out not liking the characters and the plot was too much like other YA fantasies to be intriguing. But around 30% I started to like the atmosphere and the world and so my opinion improved. When I hit 52%, an overused (and often poorly done) trope entered into the story, and I said aloud to no one, “Are we really going there?”. We did go there, it was all downhill after that. There came a point when grammatical errors were bothering me. If I notice grammatical errors, it’s a bad sign. It means there’s nothing else of note to keep my interest.

    I’ve become a lot more critical of books since I started reviewing them. It’s both a good and a bad thing. Good, in that I better understand what makes a great story, and bad because bad books annoy me so much now. I suppose that inspires me to look for better books.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think reading has changed for me since I started working on a novel and attended a few writing classes. When you begin to learn about the craft it’s easier to spot the inconsistencies. And when things go against everything you learn….I’ve also become more critical with age

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  11. I’m into factual material, so bad logic always makes me cringe. As for fiction, I have to identify with the key characters in some way. If I don’t, I’ll stop reading. I won’t waste time in a book that doesn’t grab me.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I choose writers rather than particular books (though I have my favourites). If I like something a writer has written, I usually like the next one he or she writes. Not always. But I’ll go on forgiving a writer a bad book, or books, for ages if I was wowed by him or her in the first place.
    I like Karl Ove Knausgaard (oo! these foreigners!) . He has grammatical ‘mistakes’ all through, but it’s stylistic. Sometimes, it drives me up the wall, regardless, even though I think I know what he’s doing. What I don’t like is where a character changes (in character) in order to take the plot-line along. This happens so often in TV series and movies, also. Not a stylistic improvisation, but a sheer, lazy mistake.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I could not get into Lilac Girls and don’t know what all the fuss is about. I’d like to join a more intellectual book club. At the one I occasionally go, some of the ladies (all older than me who have been meeting for a decade), complain if the book is too disturbing, they prefer light and fluffy, but then there is nothing to discuss. I suspect some are just there for the tea and socializing, which is ok. You probably pick up on stuff in the book because you are an analyzer. Some people are just surface readers, they never stop to think or analyze anything. I tend to be a details person, so if a plot doesn’t make sense or hang together, I notice and am annoyed.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. For me really poor editing (I review all self published books, as a self published author myself), and YES- inconsistencies in details, or in character actions. Sometimes you can tell a scene or action is forced for a plot move, and if it doesn’t fit the character, it ruins it for me.

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