No two persons ever read the same book.
– Edmund Wilson
If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.
– Haruki Murakami
This year, our team started a book club, and it’s turned out to be one of my favourite things about working here.
Here are our selections from the year:
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
One Day We’ll All Be Dead and None of This Will Matter by Saachi Koul
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
And our current selection for December is Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor.
I have to admit when I first heard the pick for December, I was skeptical – I’m not really a fantasy or sci-fi reader. In fact, I’m prone to conflating the two genres together, and we have a few on our team who are quick to correct me. However, to my surprise, I’m really enjoying the story so far, despite an abundance of unpronounceable and confusing names and stations, like Dazhis Athmaza and Hesero Nelaran and Csoru Drazharan.
The whole year was a year of surprising finds for me, other than Catch-22 and White Teeth, both of which I’d read before. It was great to read books that are outside of the usual genres and authors I would pick for myself – and also great to have some motivation to finish books and really give them a chance. I’m normally a big believer in giving up on a book if it’s not doing anything for you, but I also do believe that sometimes seeing something through to the end can give you a different perspective.
But of course, the best part was getting up a bit early and having breakfast in different diners and cafes and parks with some pretty great people.
You can really get a sense of who someone is by the books they read (and also the book they choose when they’re under pressure to choose a book that they know everyone’s going to judge you for), and what they think of certain stories and characters. For example, you really learn which of your coworkers you’d stick with in the event of an apocalypse.
But mostly it’s been fun and funny and wonderful getting to just hang out with the people I work with.
In case you need a little inspiration on reading books, here’s a TED Talk on How books can open your mind, and one I think I’ve shared before but fills me with warm fuzzies every time I read it, Neil Gaiman, on why our future depends on libraries, reading and daydreaming.
If you don’t have willing bookclubbers in your midst, you may also consider joining me on my new year’s resolution to read 52 books, although I attempted it this year and I’m not going to make it without a miracle (I’ve currently read 36, and can optimistically finish maybe four more, including the ones I’m partway through), so you might consider finding someone with better stamina than me.
If you’d like to start your own book club, I’ve discovered that the Toronto Public Library offers sets you can borrow. The selection is great, with classics as well as new fiction and books across many genres. For our book club, Jon and I often borrowed one copy from the library and then purchased another one – you can only borrow one copy of a book on a card and it’s usually just me going to the library.
In any case, books aren’t quite dead – not even paper books. I recently began reading e-books on my phone while nursing the baby in the dark, and now I’m a bit more optimistic that some of the people in waiting rooms or on the streetcar who are looking at their phones may indeed be reading a book. I have no idea if book sales are rising or falling in different countries or cities, or if ebooks are slowly taking over, but I can’t help but think that there’s nothing that unites people like a good story.
Now that Caleb is in preschool Monday to Friday, it’s a bit sad he can’t join us for book club breakfasts. I suppose it’s for the best, he mostly just ate pastries – but it was nice for him to live in a world where the adults that surround him read books. Technically he still lives in that world, I guess it’s just not quite as apparent.
Currently reading: Katherine Addison’s The Goblin Emperor
Currently eating: on the brink of expiry steam buns from T&T
Currently writing with: Pelikan M600 with Bungubox Dandyism, Lamy Vista with Plains of Abraham, Pilot G-2 Metallic pens for some last minute Christmas card envelope decorations
Current analogue project: organizing my 2018 Hobonichi + notebooks
Currently looking forward to: walking the trails covered in snow, at the cottage