I belong to a book club. It’s pretty cool because I get to say things like, “Oh, we read that book last month in my book club.” Or “Maybe we can get together next week because I’ve got book club tonight.” I like to say these things really loudly when I’m out in public so people I don’t know will overhear me and think I’m sophisticated and urbane.
One of the great things about being in a book club is that you have to read a book. Duh. That’s the reason I joined. Otherwise, Chicka Chicka Boom Boom and Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed are the only books I would complete every month. Another great thing about being in a book club is that someone else picks the book every month so you get exposed to books you wouldn’t necessarily choose for yourself. So far, I have really liked some of the books and really disliked some of the others. And unfortunately, being the person that I am, I have voiced my dislike of some of the books (or some of the characters in the books) pretty loudly. I guess I could be a little more polite in my reviews of the books but heck, if I’m going to go to the trouble of reading it; I’m going to be honest about it.
Last week I hosted book club at my house. As hostess I got to choose the book of the month. Oh, the pressure! After being so vocal on some of the other books, I wanted to pick a book that would knock everyone’s socks off, that represented how savvy a book reader I was and that expressed my total coolness in general. That’s a lot to ask of one book…especially since I’m not really that cool anyway.
There are no rules when it comes to choosing the book. It could be an old favorite of yours, a current bestseller, something you’ve always wanted to read but never got around to reading, anything. Not sure why, but I wanted the book I chose to be one I had already read. Unfortunately, it had been YEARS since I’ve read anything other than the book club selections. I was an avid reader before I had kids and before the invention of reality TV. (I love me some reality TV!)
Some of the pre-child books I read, I really, really enjoyed…Memoirs of a Geisha, She’s Come Undone and A Prayer for Owen Meany just to name a few. I thought all of these would make good book club choices but they all seemed so long. So in the quest to find the perfect book, I perused the latest best sellers list, Oprah’s book club list, and other online lists. I asked my friends for suggestions but for some reason I kept coming back to A Prayer for Owen Meany.
It had been about seven years since I read this book and I had been wanting to reread it for some time now. My husband had read this book and he liked it. He kept suggesting I chose it. He kept saying things like, “There’s so much to discuss in this book.” “It’s such a great book.” “Shouldn’t you be reading more classic books and not books like Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons?" (Which was a very good book, by the way!)
I kept debating Owen Meany with my husband and I kept falling back on the same excuse…”It’s so loooonnnnnnggggggg. No one is going to be able to finish it,” I would whine
And he kept arguing back, “It’s a book club. You shouldn’t just be choosing short books. You should be choosing classics.” If it were up to my husband we would be reading Treasure Island, The Odyssey and Lord of the Flies and we would be submitting term papers (5 pages, typed, single-spaced) at the beginning of every meeting.
In the end, I chose A Prayer for Owen Meany…in part because of my husband’s urging but also because there was an annoying little voice in the back of my head that was agreeing with my husband. (I hate it when that happens!) So at the August meeting, I announced my selection for September, told everyone it was long and they better get started and immediately had a sinking feeling that no one would finish it. Worse yet, I thought, what if they finish it and HATE IT! Oh well, everyone’s tastes are different and I can’t be worried about that but I did want everyone at least to be able to finish it.
I started having second thoughts on the ride home. Why did I let my husband force me into selecting this book? Why didn’t I go with something from Oprah’s list? At least that way we could bad-mouth Oprah if we didn’t like it!
So for the next 4 weeks we all struggled with Owen Meany. It is a good book but it takes a while to really get into it and it’s not the kind of book you can lightly skim through or read with The Magic School Bus blaring in the back ground. I knew that my selection was probably the topic of a lot of “discussion” even before the meeting. I was kicking myself all month long for selecting it and found myself apologizing for it every time I saw one of the moms from the book club.
I had lots of food during the meeting to make up for the book and even though only 3 of the 9 ladies at the meeting managed to finish it, I felt like we had a nice discussion about it anyway. And since our book club is technically 20% book club and 80% social club we still had a good time. After they left though, I still felt like I let everyone down by choosing A Prayer for Owen Meany.
But then, a couple of days after it was over and we had all moved on to October’s selection, I got an email from one of the girls in the club. She said that even though she didn’t finish the book she felt like God had a hand in choosing this book. She had been going through a rough few weeks due to certain circumstances beyond her control and she said that the very first sentence of the book really touched her:
“Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” – Philippians 4:6
Wow! After I read her email I got goose bumps! In the book, Owen Meany believes that he is 'an instrument of God". What a hoot! Is there a chance that maybe, I was an instrument too? I love it when I get to be a part of God’s plan, even it if is something as minor as selecting a book for book club. After all, who's to say how minor anything is when God is involved?
And I feel such relief now! I’m off the hook! Because if anyone has an issue with my selection, I guess they can take it up with the Big Guy!!