Recently somebody knocked on my condo door and I opened it to a woman carrying a plate of cupcakes. Bakery momentarily distracted me from noticing that the rest of her did not convey generosity of spirit. If frowns were clothing, I’d say she was dressed to the nines. Mine was not the locale for her book group meeting so I redirected her and her confections to the correct address.
I wanted to join her. I like to talk about books and I like cupcakes but she did not seem open to suggestion. I might conjecture, and I did, that she was not much open to any notion coming from anywhere except her own predispositions.
This is a quizzical stance for a reader because:
A book group might talk formally about the text’s themes. A book group might talk about the structure wherein elements combine. A book group might psychoanalyze to plumb the author’s subconscious. A book group might talk about archetypes to unearth universal villains, heroes, braggarts, damsels in distress and so on. A book group might talk about each reader’s reaction to the book. A book group might deconstruct the book to pretty much deprive it of meaning, or talk about its message through the lens of feminism, or Marxism, or some social theory.
But one thing readers in book groups DON’T do is ignore suggestions from other readers that might be contrary to their own, might suggest a different way of understanding.
Why else do we read?