To date, the book that has divided opinions most passionately, as evidenced by the views expressed in both my book clubs, is L’élégance du hérisson by Muriel Barbery. We had a lengthy and impassioned debate about it in the Paris book club, and a brief but no less animated discussion in the work one, and both groups were split fifty-fifty. I am firmly in the haters camp, but I have to admit that the lovers camp has its ardent followers too…
I am now the proud member of not one but two book clubs. The first has been going for several years and consists mostly of American expats. I was invited to it by a former colleague and have never stopped going since, even after I left Paris (where the vast majority of the book club members live) to move to the suburbs, three years ago. The second is a recent creation, at my work, with two of us deciding to launch a “cercle de lecture” and meeting with a very positive response to the idea from a select (i.e. small) but enthusiastic group.
The secret of book clubs is not really a secret at all. It’s a self evident thing that if you love books and reading, you love talking about them. And what joy when you are introduced to a book you had never heard of, and you love it. And what disappointment when you conscientiously plough through the next book club meeting book, and you hate it. And what amazement when people don’t share your views.
To anyone out there who is hesitating, don’t, join or create a book club. Stimulating discussions with book lovers guaranteed.