Choosing a Book Club Selection

I attended a book club meeting last night filled with old friends, Caribou coffee, and discussion of Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card. During the school year, I’m either in class or teaching class, so it’s rare I’m able to join the monthly Monday evening discussion. In fact, this was only my second foray into the Ron Book Team (I’m not sure how they came up with the name and I haven’t asked). I made the January meeting over winter break to discuss The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis and now this second meeting. Due to my schedule, the group decided to let me choose the book for the July meeting.

I was torn. How does one choose the one book they can suggest (and have somewhat of a guarantee) people should read? I’ve been introduced to great novels in my MFA program, I have my own favorite writers, and then there’s the thought of discussing a collection of short stories. I whittled my choices down to Tishomingo Blues by Elmore Leonard (one of his best and most accessible), The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera (a writer I was introduced to in my MFA), and American Gods by Neil Gaiman (that would make two Hugo winners in a row, following up Ender’s Game).

Eventually I settled on American Gods. It’s no secret I’m a big ol’ Gaiman fan, and I’m always up for getting others into his writing. I’ve tread through this book’s waters a few times, so it’s nothing new. However, I haven’t read it since entering my MFA in 2005, and I’m curious to see if two years of graduate school changes my perception of the novel. My hope is I end up enjoying it even more, though I see two possible negative scenarios which could emerge, too. Either I could dislike it because of my new perspective on writing, or I won’t notice any difference, which means two years in an MFA program hasn’t been all that helpful. I’m really hoping for the first of those three outcomes.

In the meantime, I begin my own book club tonight. Details to come tomorrow.

~nm

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