Saturday, July 19, 2008

Reading report

Last week I attended my second meeting of the book group. The circle of readers had shrunk to seven women plus the gracious facilitator. This time I came prepared to discuss what I’d read the previous month, including specifics as to whether or not I liked the title and why.

I’ve had friends who read more than I do. By my own standards, I’m a moderate, but enthusiastic, reader, reading two or three books a week. I read for entertainment and education with a rough sixty/forty split with entertainment winning the larger share. The others attending the July meeting were all the two to three books a month variety of readers.

Since I’ve led a sheltered life, mostly hanging out with other romance writers, I’m easily shocked. But I was flabbergasted by the realization that none of my fellow members read romance. I read other genres, but I do favor romance both professionally and personally.

The tasteful members had read--literature, the latest Stephanie Meyer (which is young-adult-tender-paranormal romance an odd exception to the romance ban), mysteries both cozy and gritty, non-fiction, thrillers, women’s fiction, but very little romance--and definitely no erotica.

The book I discussed, which launched the liveliest discussion, was a mystery that I tossed aside during chapter two, because the author failed to engage me. This report launched an ardent defense of the writer in question. No one else had read this particular title. Eventually, the comments trickled in from quieter members, admitting they too had suffered disappointment from the same author.

If not for the gentle facilitator, I would’ve felt like a wildcat crouched in the center of a wolf pack. There was no violence. However, there were incidents of eye rolling and subversive mutterings as I reported on the month’s selections. I made no apologies for my preferences, or the romance genre, which is thriving and certainly doesn’t need me to defend it. Yet, I couldn’t help wondering, where were all the other romance readers?

Another thing surprised me, and attitude of censure toward publishing as a moneymaking sector of the economy. Presumably, real artists should be above such considerations. Perhaps, someday I’ll tell them what I do for a living.


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