I recently joined a book club, the first book club I’ve ever joined. It’s called “The Fun Book Club.” I have several issues with the name, but I understand the intent. Apparently the woman who organized it belonged to another book group in our neighborhood that only read serious, often depressing, books about past and present problems in the world. She wanted one that offered an escape from this world, so this has a focus on sci-fi and fantasy. All of this is fine with me, but I am sort of concerned that the majority of the books were are reading are 1) seem to only be books that are being turned into movies and 2) all fit into the genre of Young Adult. Don’t get me wrong, I think there’s some great YA fiction out there, but this is where I have issues with our group’s moniker. “Fun” does not have to mean an easy read. A book that challenges you either through its style or theme can still be fun. I’m not suggesting that we crack open Dostoyevsky each month, but if the first thing someone tells me about a book it that it is such an easy read, chances are it’s not going to be on my To Be Read list anytime soon.
We just finished reading The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I’m horrible at writing about books (a skill I hope to practice), but a one line summary could be : a circus unlike any other serves as a venue for a strange competition of magic between two young, and sometimes hesitant, participants. The settings in the books were amazing, and you can tell the author had a lot of fun with them. I imagined Cirque du Soleil doing a show celebrating the imagery of Tim Burton. Character development, on the other hand, seemed lacking. At the end of the book, I found that I didn’t really care what happened to the two protagonists. Not that I disliked them, I just didn’t feel like I’d gotten to know them personally and didn’t have anything at stake in their outcomes.
I’m not sure if there was a general consensus as to whether we liked the book or not. Some people were frustrated by the fact that it jumped around in time. Some thought that the ending seemed forced. All in all, I thought it was enjoyable. I didn’t get home from the discussion until after 1:00 am and several glasses of wine, so maybe the name “The Fun Bookclub” is more appropriate than I thought.