Earlier this month my book club read Jayne Anne Phillips’ Lark and Termite, which drew quite a range of reactions. Though everyone in the group agreed that Phillips is a terrific writer, some felt that this critically acclaimed novel (a finalist for the National Book Award) was a difficult reading experience. Readers questioned the supernatural elements, the use of symbolism (yes, Lola IS the cat) and a few plot points that strained belief. Despite all this, I can tell you that we had a wonderful discussion of Lark and Termite and that I came away from the meeting with a clearer understanding of this remarkable novel and a stronger appreciation for Phillips’ talents.
All of which serves as proof of The First Law of Book Clubs: It isn’t necessarily the books that everyone loves that spark the best discussions. In fact, my reading group has had some of its very best talks about books that most of us hated (I won’t mention any titles but a certain talking gorilla comes painfully to mind). Don’t get me wrong — we’ve also had wonderful conversations about books that each and every book club member thoroughly enjoyed. But in the end, it’s not only the quality of a book, but the experience of reading and sharing your reaction to it, that makes or breaks a book club.
What about it, book club members? What book has sparked the best discussion in your reading group? Tell us in the comments by March 14 and you’ll be entered to win copies of a recent reading group title for everyone in your club (up to 10 copies). The prize is being provided by the fine folks at Vintage/Anchor Books, and the winner can choose one of these recent Vintage/Anchor paperback releases:
The winner and five runners-up will also receive a copy of The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club, in which the beloved Irish author offers advice and encouragement for aspiring writers.