Early last year, I started attending book club meetings with a group of women who combine book discussions with wine tasting. (Woohoo!) At the end of the first meeting, we drew names to see who would choose the next book, and my name was drawn.
I had just started reading Sock by Penn Jillette and I could tell I was going to really like it, so I chose it as our book club selection for the following meeting. What a colossal mistake!
Before the meeting even took place, people's comments on the Evite foreshadowed trouble. There was talk of how excruciating the book was and what a drag it was to get through.
By then, I had finished the book (and loved it!) but knew it was definitely not for everyone. It's deliberately weird, provocative and controversial. My one-sentence synopsis when I compiled the discussion questions was, "A love triangle with a gay man, a straight man and a dead woman told from the point of view of a sock monkey." That's probably about all you need to know to decide whether you'd be interested.
When the discussion began, it was quite heated at times. Interestingly enough, the people who had read the whole book liked it better than the people who had given up somewhere in the middle. I was still the only person who really liked it a lot. I think my youthful appreciation for Tom Robbins novels may have helped pave the way.
After the disastrous book club meeting, I was at a loss as to who to give "Sock" to next. I was hesitant to pass it along to anyone who might have a strong negative reaction.
At Christmas, I decided to take some books to my aunt, so I hunted down "Sock" to include in the pile. She called today to tell me that she absolutely loved it. She is also a Tom Robbins fan, which is what helped me decide to give it to her. She even complimented the discussion questions I'd written and tucked into the book. I'm on fire!
It was nice to get a little vindication of my taste in literature. I still say the book isn't for everyone, but there are a couple of us with similar genetic makeup who liked it very much!
As one of those who couldn't stand the book and couldn't finish it, I will say that Sock is an excellent example as to why I LOVE being in book clubs. I would have never picked up Sock had I not been in that book club. Although I didn't finish it, the experience of reading a different writing style by an author with such extreme viewpoints was good for me.
Posted by: cagey | January 04, 2006 at 08:53 PM
If you need socks for sock monkeys, go to www.socksbypost.co.uk buy one sock get one free (snigger) KP
Posted by: Keith | January 05, 2006 at 07:26 AM
Books? What are those? I loathed reading growing up, then I met my wife the english major and I started reading. Then came the kids, haven't read much since then, but would love to if I had the time.
Posted by: Huts | January 05, 2006 at 08:24 AM
Cagey - Ahh, literature as cod liver oil!
Keith - If I didn't know you, I'd think you were comment spamming. ;)
Huts - I hope you manage to find a little more time for reading in the coming year.
Posted by: Jane | January 05, 2006 at 09:44 AM
I think that when not everyone loves the book, book club discussions are sometimes way better and more interesting. At least ours seems to be. We just read "The Alchemist" and while everyone liked it, the discussion was really slow and quiet. Mainly because the thoughts everyone had were pretty personal, I believe. It's a book that really makes you think about your life.
Posted by: Eulallia | January 06, 2006 at 11:07 PM
Good for you for throwing in something provocative! I bought and began Sock myself, but got distracted by a different book. You've reminded me, and so I'll have to go back to it.
I recently read Cloudstreet because someone suggested it for our hardly-existing book club. The only other person, besides myself, who actually read it, hated it. I thought it was brilliant.
Posted by: noell | January 08, 2006 at 10:34 AM