Friday, June 25, 2010

Book Club

I'm part of a Book Club. I wasn't there from the start because I'd always disliked analysing books and over thinking things but once I tried it, I realized that I did enjoy it. My outlook has changed a lot since highschool. Reuben is also part of the club, which is fantastic! It's neat to read the same books. He was part of the Club from the beginning; being more excited about philosophical ponderings.

The first book that was picked was "Same Kind of Different as Me" by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. It's about a slave who runs away and ends up in the slums of Fort Worth, Texas. A rich couple come to the mission where he gets his dinner and become involved in his life. It's been awhile since I read it so I can't really remember all of the themes. The book was alright but definitely not my favourite. I didn't go to this meeting so that's probably why it didn't stick so well.

The next book that was picked was "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley.
I read the first chapter and couldn't read anymore. It just didn't interest me at all. This is Reuben's favourite type of book. It predicts the demise of civilization and how awful it's going to be. It also has a lot to say about how the world works now and it draws everything to it's most awful conclusion. Needless to say, I didn't go to this meeting either.

Next we had some short stories by Kafka "The Metamorphosis", "In the Penal Colony" and "The Judgement". I read "The Metamorphosis" but it was so illogical and unclear that I couldn't bring myself to read the other two so I didn't go to that meeting.

Finally, a book I could read! "My Name is Asher Lev" by Chaim Potok was selected next. I had read this book in high school and I remember really disliking it because it is told from the perspective of someone who is naturally gifted in art and can't stop himself from doing art and thinking in an artistic way. This is so the opposite of who I am and how I think, that it was really hard for me to understand in high school. Reading it for the second time was a lot better. I actually enjoyed it and took the time and effort to really try to understand what was going on. The boy is part of an Hasidic Jewish community in New York City in the 1950s. His parents are very devout and very focused on establishing Hasidic communities around the world. They cannot understand him and so the dichotomy of growing up Hasidic and artistic. We had a great discussion about art and how involved Christians can be in the art world.

The next book was "Shantaram" by Gregory David Roberts. I, also, read the first chapter of this book and couldn't read any further. The point of the book club, in some part, is to read books you wouldn't normally read or wouldn't have time to read. But I just couldn't read any further. The book had a ton of swearing and the way it was written was really hard for me to read. It was very wordy, too wordy for my taste. It's semi-autobiographical. It's about an Australian convict who escapes to India to start life over but he just ends up being and associating with criminals in India. I did go to that meeting and I'm glad I didn't read the rest of the book from what the others told me of what happened.

The next book was "Holy the Firm" by Annie Dillard. Wow! What a different book. I forced myself to get past the first couple of nonsensical, poetically written pages and found that finishing it was relatively easy. I would like to read this book again. She had so many images, thoughts and insights that it would take many readings to digest them all. While many people in the club had differing opinions on whether they liked it or not, it still brought great fodder for discussion. There were many scenes discussed as everyone had a favourite.

Our most recent book is "The Cellist of Sarajevo" by Steven Galloway. We'll be having our discussion tonight. It's a pretty easy read. It tells the story of war from the point of view of 3 different people. The city of Sarajevo was under seige for 3 years. 2 of the people are trying to get across town, one to work and one to get fresh water while dodging snipers that are in the hills surrounding the city. The other is a sniper from inside the city trying to shoot the snipers in the hills. She is also tasked with guarding the cellist who comes out to play on the spot where 22 people were killed by a bomb while waiting in a bread line. It's a powerful description of how various people deal with war. We'll see what the discussion brings tonight.