What makes for a good book discussion

My book group met Monday night, and I nearly didn’t go.  I’m not big on war books, and Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken is that.  Honestly?  I wasn’t planning to read it.  I don’t read much anyway when I’m deep into the writing of a book, and I’m about as deep into Sweet Salt Air as I can get.  I didn’t want to be distracted – or grossed out – or dizzied by descriptions of B-24s.

I don’t know why I changed my mind.  It might have been the opening pages, which were gripping.  Or the fact that I hadn’t read last month’s book and felt a responsibility to the other members to be there with something intelligent to say.  Or even the fact that the Patriots were playing Sunday, and, being a nervous wreck, I needed a reminder that war is real, while a game is a game.

I loaded the book on my iPad last Thursday and read it, start to finish, over the weekend, but come Monday night, I was still asking myself why our group had picked this book.  Then we started talking.

The main character intrigued us.  Some of us believed every word he said, some wondered if he might have embellished a bit.

The war details horrified us, but discussing them with others, each of whom was haunted by a different scene, was cathartic.

We had relatives in this war.  Talking about them – and about how little they wanted to talk about it and when, in manic bursts, they did – was fascinating.

Three elements – an intriguing protagonist, something to learn, emotions with which to personally relate – made the night.  But you don’t have to be in a book group to appreciate these.  My books are as different from “Unbroken” as night from day, yet I try to put these three elements in each.

Speaking of which, I discussed Escape last week with a library book group.  One of the questions?  Is it true that Jude was dead in the first draft of this book?  Yes, it is true.  My publisher made me bring him back.  Were they right?  What do you think?

BTW, my Shoemaker’s Hat is sitting downstairs, waiting for me to weave in the ends (I warned you), at which point I’ll photograph it for you to see.  In the meanwhile, I’ve added more squares to my sock yarn blanket.  And I’ve started another pair of socks.  This one’s a Wendy Johnson toe-up pattern called Ribbed Ribbons, and I was determined to learn Wendy’s favorite cast-on for toe-ups, something called Judy’s Magic Cast-on.  I had to do it three times, and that was on the first sock.  It did it two times on the second sock (Note: I work both socks simultaneously, the toe of one, then the toe of the second, the foot of one, then the foot of the second, etc.).  Not pleased with the way the cast-on looked, I ripped out both socks yet again and repeated the cast-on until it was right.  More on that in another blog.  I think I’ll call that one Tinking, Which Is What Knitters Do When They Mess It Up.

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