Wednesday, February 3, 2010

My drinking club has a book problem

For more than a decade now, I’ve been a member of a book club.

OK, if you want to split hairs, it’s probably more of a wine club that loves to read. Nevertheless, we’ve been together an awfully long time, sharing our mutual fondness for reading, eating, and drinking (not always in that order).

We get together once a month and read selections ranging from classic literature to bestsellers to poetry to smut. We’re proudly devouring an Emma Holly erotica title for Valentine’s month, which will be followed in March by Kathryn Stockett’s critically acclaimed novel THE HELP.

Eclectic tastes, to say the least.

Over the years, we’ve eaten a lot of great food, consumed oceans of wine, and have watched our membership fluctuate between six and 20+. There’s a 25-year age difference between our eldest member and our youngest, and our group includes women with wildly different lifestyles, political views, and beverage preferences.

It goes without saying that we often have vastly different perspectives on the books we read. That’s the whole point, really.

Last August, we read Tiffanie DeBartolo’s HOW TO KILL A ROCK STAR, an amazing novel released in 2005 from Sourcebooks. If you haven’t read it, go buy it right now.

Our discussion became heated when one member dared to suggest she didn’t particularly care for the narrator. In a room full of readers who had developed a sisterly love for this character over the course of 352 pages, this was akin to calling the sister a skank. I had to remove the wine bottles from the table in case a fight broke out.

For the most part though, it was a fun discussion, and a good reminder of one of the key mantras of the publishing industry:

It’s all subjective.

What one reader, editor, or agent hates, another may fall in love with. We all want to believe there’s a magic bullet in publishing – a “right way” or a “wrong way” to read a book or to write one. Believe me, I’ve seen plenty of feedback from editors and it never ceases to amaze me how varied it can be. These are smart, accomplished, professional editors with extensive careers in publishing. They certainly don’t all agree on what makes a good book or a bad one. Why should we?

So I’ve learned not to take it personally when an editor rejects my masterpiece, or a book club member hates a book I picked, or when my brilliant and talented agent sends me back to the drawing board to rewrite the marketing hooks I was so certain were perfect.

Just don’t question my taste in wine, OK? Thems fightin’ words.


David & Dixie said...

Of course the world is much more interesting because of the differences in not only people, but likes and dislikes of each person. That being said, I am continually impressed and amazed with not only your writing, but your ability to take the lumps, (criticism), that come with your chosen vocation, and to stay strong and on track.
I say well done. However, you can keep all the wine to yourself, I'll pass on that.
Your father says fine wine is never appreciated before its time.

sheri said...

I'm not sure we have different beverage preferences: any alcohol will do.

Tawna Fenske said...

Sheri, I'll raise a toast to that!