Book Clubs are for Pretend Readers

I wanted to start this blog by saying, “Summer is almost here and that means summer book reading!” Unfortunately, I am too early to say that, since it’s only April. Then I thought about it, and the more I did that, the more I felt like I needed to stop thinking so hard. So after I folded my “Pugs Not Drugs” t-shirt in my bedroom and came back to my computer, this is what I realized: People talk more about reading than they actually do it. I know that’s not much, but in my defense the leggings I’m wearing right now are cutting off the circulation in my torso and up to my brain.

Anyway, a friend of mine recently said she was trying to start a book club. I thought this was a pretty gutsy thing to do in the spring, since I always thought starting or being in a book club was more of a summer activity. (Full disclosure: I’ve never started a book club, because no one wants to read my books, but that’s something for a therapist to hear, not you.) Well, apparently spring really isn’t a good time, because my friend’s putting together of a book club has proven to be more difficult than getting Congress to come together or for TCBY to make a decent mango flavor.

Then last week, I got an email from meetup.com because I keep forgetting to deactivate my account. I got invited to a new group called — and this is real, I did not make this up like the tight leggings bit — The Charlotte Women’s Article Club. The group is described as a “quasi-book club for women who are too busy to read an entire book!” They read AN ARTICLE A MONTH.

Before I get all nutty, I will give this positive feedback: I am glad they are reading articles from The AtlanticMother Jones, and New York Magazine. That’s why I pray the magazine choices don’t devolve into US Weekly, where women in the group can ask, “What does this article really mean about how fat Kim Kardashian’s ass has gotten since she got pregnant?”

But still, an article-a-month club is kind of ridiculous. This new meetup bothered me not only as a woman, but as a human being who likes to pretend to read books with her friends. What is a book club anyway? You skim through a few chapters and drink wine with your lady friends. How long could an article-a-month club meeting really last? Five minutes? Ten tops if there’s a disagreement, i.e. is it really none of our business that Khole Kardashian may not be a biological Kardashian?

The club’s first meeting is April 24 and the topic is The Future for Afghan Women. That will definitely take longer than five minutes to sort through. I might go, but then if I don’t read the whole article, there’s no way to realistically tell the other ladies without looking like an idiot that I didn’t have time to read it.

Oh, and since I don’t have a therapist, I’ll share five of my favorite books:

1) A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood: A dark, gorgeously written story of a day in the life of a gay professor in the early 1960s who has just lost his lover.

2) The Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin: A quirky, funny read about a man who is trying to live his life despite his often crippling phobias.

3) Heartburn by Nora Ephron: Gee, isn’t your husband cheating on you while you’re pregnant with his second child hilarious? In this modern classic, Ephron makes it seem that way, complete with cooking recipes sprinkled throughout the book in case you need dinner ideas for later.

4) Me: Stories of My Life by Katherine Hepburn: The iconic actress rambles about her life and conveniently leaves out juicy details about her partner Spencer Tracy. It’s as entertaining as your batty old aunt dodging questions about what it was like when she was a “dancer.”

5) Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov: I read somewhere that someone thought of Lolita as America and Humbert Humbert, the middle-aged man that pursues her, to represent England trying to defile America. I  think it’s just about a disgusting creeper seducing a teenager. I am fascinated by books that talk about horrible things without using overtly horrible words, like this one.

I also like this fun fact about the author: Nabokov went butterfly hunting in the summertime. Maybe he should have started a book club instead.

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