Some things we might talk about in a book club conversation:
Obviously, for any particular book, we might talk about how that particular novel or story came to be, and what the story means to me. Questions about characters and their motivations, questions about the way a story ends (or begins), questions about research methods … all of this (and more) is good fodder for book club conversation.
Sometimes, readers are also interested in the writing process in general.
How and where do writers — how do I? — find my stories?
Do I have a method for writing a novel? (Answer: I wish….)
How do I stay with a story, even when it seems to defeat me? What can writers do when they hit apparent stumbling blocks?
What do I do if I think I have a failed story on my hands? (Answer: put it in a drawer. What looks like it’s dead in the water now might suddenly and mysteriously revive three years hence…)
Where do I write … and why? Any talismans or rituals I need around me?
Why do I write?
What are the books and who are the writers I most revere? (I often want to hear the answer to these questions from book club members. What books have moved or provoked you most powerfully?)
My husband and I are both writers. How’s that working out, two writers living under one roof? (Answer: We’ve been married for nearly a quarter of a century. It’s working out fine… and it’s interesting.)
Sometimes – and these are my favorite conversations – we just want to talk about life. As the writer Caryl Phillips said, “The more we know — or care to know — about those who are not us, the more we will come to know about ourselves.” A story helps us know about people who are not us. It moves us at a complex, emotional level. It changes us. It surprises us. It challenges us. It gives us new ways – better ways, more highly evolved ways, more nuanced ways — to think about our own lives and the lives of other people. “Imagining what it is like to be someone other than oneself is at the core of our humanity,” Ian McEwan has written. “It is the essence of compassion, and it is the beginning of morality.” The best conversations with book clubs begin with the books … and then evolve into conversations about the human experiment. The human predicament. About hope. Suffering. Love. Fear. Triumph. Compassion. Morality.
Please contact me if you’d like me to join your book club in the conversation.