I attended a bi-weekly book club, and I’ve noticed something interesting.
Books that are great to read don’t always make astounding books for a book club to read. Patrick Rothfuss’s The Name of the Wind is an amazing book. Utterly enjoyable, well written, and so on. But when we discussed it in our book club the meeting fell short, because there wasn’t that much to say. One can only repeat “This was great! Remember that awesome part where XYZ” so many times.
And books that are kinda crappy can sometimes make for fun discussion (in an MST3K kinda way). We’ve read some fairly bad crap, and the mockery can be very entertaining when done by a witty group with a good sense of humor (which, of course, we are. :) ) Even in otherwise good books it can help to have a few things to kvetch about (seriously, he’s STILL hung up on Denna? Sheez, get over it!)
A lot of books that are moderately enjoyable are absolutely great for book clubs, because there is room for diverging opinions and discussion. What I refer to as “grist”. Something that strikes one person as genius, but another as ham-handed, or pretentious. A fuzzy plot point that a world-class great author would have ironed out, but that leaves things ambiguous and open to interpretation (and thus argument). Some action, or technology, or magic, that one person things is completely unrealistic and/or out-of-character, that another thinks was well-played. Perhaps even politically or ethically controversial assertions. Little bits of irritant that form the focus for a pearl of conversation to coalesce around. These books make for great talks that can go on right up until your venue is closing down and clicking you out the door.
I did a quick google search (admittedly, nothing very indepth), and there doesn’t seem to be any sorts of Reviews of SF/F books for the purpose of book clubs out there. There’s plently of reviews of SF/F books. And there’s even a few Reviews of Books for Book Clubs (which would get the vapors if they read something like genre fiction!). But no reviews of SF/F Books for SF/F Book Clubs.
So I’m going to try my hand at it. Books will be reviewed only after our book club meeting, so I have some empirical evidence rather than just empty speculation. As any review, it is primarily a collection of my opinions, but the hope is that it’ll be opinions others will find useful in some way. First review coming later this week.
I really like the “books good for book clubs” idea, because I agree that the best books don’t always make for the best discussions. And, hey, I’m one of the ones in that “good sense of humor” group with you, so it’s got to be a good idea, right? :-)