Sunday, June 6, 2010

Risky Book Club Selections

I love my book club. But, a major change has been announced that I fear will make a great bookclub into a so-so one at best. And as it is a "neighborhood" book club, and technically, I don't live in the neighborhood (what's 10 miles?), I don't have any leg to criticize the decision. So, in the event of the book club's downfall, I am considering starting my own neighborhood reading group. But in the midst of the 2-hour HOA meeting last night, I rediscovered that I actually don't like most of my neighbors. It's not solely that they're mostly 70+. I'd like to think I'm not ageist and I do like the people in my current book club who are a bit older - they can give a different perspective on certain books. But these people are terribly nosy (one remarked last night that he knew I left for work every morning at 9:00 and often don't get home until after dark. Stalk much?) and don't understand boundaries. They also bear more than a passing resemblance to a Stepford neighborhood, wanting everything to be absolutely perfect on the outside, and standing for no creativity or room for differences. They're constantly making pronouncements like, "Well of course we don't want sidewalks, so we need to..." (What!? I want sidewalks!) and "since we all moved here because of the free planting areas..." (No, I bought my condo in February. I thought that area was just rocks and ivy and mostly dead stuff and you guys were fine with that (see picture). Not only did I NOT buy my condo because I have a green thumb, but my black thumb and I considered it a detraction from the complex. But it was a flaw I was willing to overlook, and later regretted.) Anyway, these judgmental busybodies are not who I want my new reading group to be filled with. I firmly believe that a new wave of owners is here and I think we're close to 50% of the complex (as opposed to the Original Owners who bought in the 70s) however, we don't have the presence or power because we have lives. We have jobs, friends, we travel and we aren't obsessed about hiding in the shrubbery to see if someone let their dog off its leash for 10 minutes (within sight, no poop was involved.) We certainly wouldn't then call animal control on said dog. (Not my dog, I don't have any pets.)

But as I don't know enough people here that I would like to ask to join, and I want the meetings to be held in the clubhouse, I'd pretty much need to open it up to everyone and put it in the newsletter. So, how do I get only the people I want to join, to join? I got it! The book selection!

Naturally, I'm going to declare myself Selection Queen. And to start off, I think I want to have books that are risky, push the envelope, and involve sex, drugs, and violence. I want to dissuade the At Home in Mitford types. Here is my initial list. Can you help me think of more?

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
The Gin Closet by Leslie Jamison
Hotel Iris by Yoko Ogawa
Smashed by Koren Zailckas
Lit by Mary Karr
Chicken With Plums by Marjane Satrapi
American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
The Talented Mr. Ripley by Patricia Highsmith
Smonk by Tom Franklin
The Sex Life of My Aunt by Mavis Cheek
The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
The Evidence Against Her by Robb Forman Dew
Fallen by David Maine
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby


Teresa said...

Ha! Your post made me laugh because I have a similar thought process whenever I think of trying to start up a new book club, but for me it's all about the book selection. I could probably come up with enough people to invite, but I'd still end up subjected to lots of the typical book club choices that I don't want to read. So I came to the conclusion that some sort of limiting theme would be the ticket: something like works in translation, Persephone books, or 19th century lit. Perhaps you could just call it the "Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll" book club?

As for fitting choices, how about Lolita? Fingersmith? The Crimson Petal and the White? Or even The Stepford Wives? Oh, and my first book read a memoir by a stripper when we were just getting started--Bare, I think it was called.

Kathy said...

Seems like anything by David Sedaris or Augusten Burroughs might work. They're pretty offensive. Or--I haven't read the book yet, but if it's anything like the movie it should work for your purposes--Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk.

Kathy said...

Oh, and I love the name Teresa suggested for your book club. You could give it a tagline, too: The Book Club Your Mother Warned You About.

Bibliobabe said...

Oh...this is a fun post! My club drives me crazy with wanting to read 'fluffy' stuff - or worse, bodice rippers, but with no real theme or plot to chat about.

One that I really like, but dealt with some harsh topics that pushed my book club over the edge was "Fall on Your Knees" by Ann-Marie McDonald.

I'm going to keep thinking of more!

Kathy said...

Great titles!
My suggestions...

A Great Deliverance by Elizabeth George
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Kathy said...

Carin, a friend of mine just finished his first novel and has put out the word for any advice regarding agents or publishers. If you think you might be able to give him any words of wisdom, would you please email me (hudsonsmom at hotmail dot com) and I will put you in contact with him--thank you!

Rebecca Chapman said...

I have been having the problem with ageism recently at my book club. Everyone is old and think they are therefore better readers and more educated than me and my friend who attend, both in our 20's. Sorry, but I think I am a good reader, I am not an idiot, doing 6 years of law school and getting a great job working on criminal trial surely has proved that, and they are no better than me simply becuase they are old.

Sorry. I feel better now. I will try and think of some titles, but I don't tend to read books like that I don't think. None come to mind immediately anyway.

Booksnyc said...

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper has graphic sex scenes and foul language -that should do it!

PS - it is also a great book!

Carin Siegfried said...

I am loving all your ideas! Thank you! I particularly love th eidea of naming the book club. I think I will combine Teresa and Kathy's suggestions and call it : Sex Drugs & Rock N Roll: the Book Club Your Mother Warned You About. I guess I need to add at least one "Rock N Roll" book then. I'll think on that one.

Michelle (Red Headed Book Child) said...

I would suggest anything by Margaret Atwood, Barbara Kingsolver or Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides.