Tonight we have our inaugural meeting at the home of one of the women, so I'm thinking a lot about how to get started on the right foot. I know some of the problems with keeping a group going--scheduling conflicts, book selections, too much focus on the refreshments, life in general. I also know how rewarding friendships can be when they revolve around reading for pleasure and mental stimulation. I wish I'd cut out the article by a former book editor for the Charlotte Observer who said that while her husband read, he didn't want to discuss his reading with her. (He does not, she complained, "give good book.") I love book talk. One of the greatest pleasure after reading a good book (or any book for that matter) is discussing it with someone else.
I've been going through my computer files for documents I've created for my NC book club (I miss you all!). One is a compilation of questions from the "By the Book" segment of the NYT book supplement, one of my favorite sections every Sunday. While answering them all would be daunting, they certainly delve into the reader's psyche:
What books are currently on your nightstand? Which books might we be surprised to find on your shelves?
And what’s the last truly great book you read?
What’s the best book you’ve read so far this year?
Whom do you consider the most overlooked or underappreciated writers?
What kinds of stories are you drawn to? And steer clear of?
And what are your favorite books of all time? What’s the best love story you’ve ever read?
Who is your favorite novelist of all time? And your favorite novelist writing today?
If you had to name one book that made you who you are today, what would it be?
Is there a certain type of book you try to steer clear of as a reader? And a type of story you’re drawn to?
What are your literary guilty pleasures? Do you have a favorite genre?
What kind of reader were you as a child? Have you ever gotten in trouble for reading a book?
What was the last book to make you laugh? The last book that made you furious?
If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?
If you could meet any author, dead or living, who would it be and why?
If you could be any character from literature, who would it be?
You’re hosting a literary dinner party. Which three writers are invited?
What’s one book you wish someone else would write?
Which books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?
Disappointing, overrated, just not good: What book did you feel you were supposed to like, and didn’t? Do you remember the last book you put down without finishing?
What book do you find yourself returning to again and again?
What do you plan to read next?