Tonight was Books and Bars — the monthly “book club” that I’ve been attending. Er, that I attended for the second time tonight.
So here’s the deal, I love to read. I mean, seriously love to read. I’ve been this way since I was a kid. I start a book and it kind of takes over and wow, do I love escaping into other people’s lives and worlds etc. (Which also might explain my adoration for good television.)
But book clubs are generally not for me. And tonight kind of affirmed that. The thing is, I adore the host of Books and Bars. Great dialogue, great questions, always good humor. The location? One of my favorites. Delicious food, cozy atmosphere and awesome drink specials. The reading list? So far it has been superb.
I just… I don’t seem to like the people that like to go to book clubs. Wow. Bring on the hate mail, eh? But seriously, there are always pockets of folks in the room that just pile on the negativity (“this was the worst written book ever. Sure the story was good, but that sentence construction!” or whatever the critique is). Now, don’t get me wrong, when a book is bad, that’s worth discussing. But it *seems* that these pockets of people are critical of EVERYTHING. My God, if you hated the book that much DON’T FINISH IT. SKIP BOOK CLUB. Save us all. Please. Ok, rant over.
Well wait, not quite. There was this other part of book club that bothered me tonight. So this month’s selection was “The Help,” which delves into the Civil Rights movement in the sixties and the relationship between white women and their hired maids in Alabama during this time.
Several people at book club had either lived in the South or had grown up with black “maids in uniform” who babysat and cleaned the house, so many others in the room were interested to hear what those with that perspective thought of the story. This one person admitted, to the room full of 60-70 people, that they were raised by a black maid in uniform until they were 18 and they lived in Alabama and we all just didn’t understand the culture down there because to this day said person* could not remember the maid’s name. You know, the maid that worked for the family for 18 years.
Now, I’m not really good with names. But I still remember my babysitters’ names from childhood and the name of the handyman my parents hired, and the name of the woman that watched me at her house while my parents were at work etc. etc. I’m not sure if that example shared in book club was “societal influence” or “racism” or just an instance of the most self-centered behavior I have witnessed to date. My God, did that make an impression.
*Also, the said southerner looked to be in their late-20s, so this was not a case of “old-age” or whatever.