My friends Chris and Mrs Chris belong to a reading group. Actually, I'm not certain of the truth of that statement since I think Chris may well have decided it is not really for him. The problem for him is that the leading light in the group is a retired librarian with very distinct and determined ideas about the books that are suitable for the group's consideration. Chris's suggestions have, he says, been met with scorn and derision.
I did think it might be quite fun for a small group to get together and swap ideas about books: I do enjoy reading and am always willing to listen to other people's thoughts on authors I might like to read - or prefer to avoid. But I have just discovered what is involved. The book I am currently reading has at the back some notes for reading groups and suggestions for discussion. These are along the lines of:
X said, so-and-so. Was he right?
What was the significance of the feathers?
What did the author mean when he said this or that?
All this smacks just a little too much of studying English literature at school. I'm not entirely sure that authors have much in the way of thoughts behind the dialogue they write or have unwritten meanings. Even if they do, such things really do not concern me overmuch. I just want to read the story. If there is more to it than appears in the written word, I'm happy to leave it to others to meditate on the hidden bits. I suppose reading is, for me, a form of escapism - and if that makes me a pleb in the eyes of others, well, I can live with that.