Back in 1964 in an English Lit class at Oklahoma State University, I discovered that I was not alone…literature, good literature like life possessed depth and complexity, that authentic literary fiction not only contained truth, but explored it from at least two angles, the author and the reader. I discovered that the author’s intention of plot, sub-plots, characters, the message or moral of the story, might not be what the reader found at all.
When first assigned scholarly commentaries, critiques and essays about literary works, I assumed I would find agreement among the experts, insights into plot and nuances that frankly enhanced my understanding of the work. Boy, was the naive college sophomore I was back then surprised. Instead of finding agreement leading to deeper understanding, I found dissension, arguments, quarreling, bickering all using $100 dollar words that still sounded a lot like profanity. Additionally, I found novice that I was, that what I had read, what I had understood, differed often in critical areas. I wrote my papers, included comments, quotes, all appropriately referenced. However, the bottom line in all the papers I wrote became the moment I left what I considered chaff in all the commentaries behind, clung to the kernels that seemed true, and raised my voice to share what I had thought.
All these years later, still reading four to five books a month, I still read to find the undercurrents of the work, the authenticity, the human connection even when the book is shallow and pretentious. I love learning something new about life, cultures, places, institutions; I love living vicariously through the eyes of someone in the 19th Century [Emily Bronte, et al] or who is from Ethiopia [Abraham Verghese].
AND YET, I HAVE NEVER BEEN IN A BOOK CLUB. I know people in book clubs. I have even read some of their book club books, but most of them are in places too far away to make a monthly meeting…that is if I had been invited, which alas, I have not. Possibly because I use archaic words like “alas”.
So here in my SEVENTH DECADE I have decided to Start my own, the Barefoot Book Club…not just for good beach reads…but because wiggling the toes frees us to be who we are and share how we feel.
AND YOU are invited to join me the Fourth Wednesday of the month to share your reflections, opinions, critiques of the Book of the Month. Be real. Be yourself. and BE KIND. We may not always agree. I doubt we will…be pretty dull if we did. We will
ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE, by Anthony Doerr has been rated among the 100 best books of the decade and for those who do not know it was just awarded the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. After perusing the 100 books listed, I realized I had only read a few of them and even more surprisingly to me, two were books of non-fiction, THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES and THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS.
SO, realizing I was behind in my reading, obliviously overlooking, 90 of the 100 best books of the decade, I ask for help from my Facebook friends. Seconds after I posted my request, “Which one of these would you suggest I read first?” I got two replies both recommending ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE. I downloaded it immediately onto my Kindle.
Join me in reading this Pulitzer Prize winning novel, reflect and then share your review, questions, concerns etc. and I will share mine.