Post by Fiona Ross
One of the biggest benefits of a book club (book clubs) is that you don’t get to always pick the books, other people do. Now, let me tell you, as a teacher and librarian it’s not easy giving up that control or the power, but if you do, when you do, you may discover some happy surprises.
The books I have read because I have had to as a reviewer, or as a book club member, are too many to list. As a reader, my tastes lean to historical fiction, literary fiction, Canadian fiction and memoir. I tend to really favour female protagonists. As a secondary school librarian, I read social justice (diverse literature) and YA. For my beloved SUCCESS program at school I also include picture books. I read widely. And here is the rub, even after all these books and all this time, I still get it wrong.
For example, when I joined The Authors’ Book Club, David Albertyn, our co-founder, sent me a copy of his novel Undercard as a thank you. He even wrote a lovely dedication inside. I read the blurb and the synopsis, thought, “that’s nice” and filed it on my book shelf. To be fair, I did think I would show it to my husband or middle son, because it might appeal to them. I mean boxing? Vegas? A thriller? Not exactly my cup of tea.
And here we are. Six months later, a global pandemic, David’s U.S. release and an Authors’ Book Club event where I am moderating. I can’t exactly show up when I haven’t read the book. And you know what? I love it. It is a story of friendship, intrigue, passion, history, boxing, racism, policing, military and so many other issues all woven in. Mostly though, it is a well-paced story with likeable characters who you want to follow on their journey. And really, isn’t that it? Characters we care about, on a journey we can relate to. Isn’t that the essence of good storytelling and what readers want in a book?
I don’t like boxing. I have never been to Las Vegas. I am not a supporter of the police, or the military, and on the surface that is what this book is about. But dig beneath the surface and it is a fast paced, rewarding read with relatable, interesting characters, and that is what readers want.
So, if someone in your book club picks a book that doesn’t appeal. Or, if you get a book as a gift that you would never pick for yourself, take a chance, dive in and actually read it. Take it from me, a seasoned reader, it could be worth the chance. Just read.
Fiona Ross is teacher librarian and book club consultant with The Authors’ Book Club. From the time she read her first novel, Bimbo and Topsy by Enid Blyton at age 6, she was hooked on fiction. Fiona is an avid reader, a teacher librarian, a current member of two book clubs and past chair of the Secondary Fiction Review Committee at the Peel District School Board. She also serves on the planning committee at the Festival of Literary Diversity, (FOLD). Although her job demands lots of YA she occasionally tries to read a book aimed at adult readers.
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