It’s a busy summer for me. Soon I’ll head to Mexico for a month to teach a fiction workshop class and then, pretty much as soon as I get back, my husband and I will move from Minneapolis to the DC area. So, on Monday night I met for the last time with my book club.
This is a group I started back in December of 2014 with a few other fiction writers I found through The Loft community board. Since then we’ve been reading one book a month on the craft of writing and getting together to discuss.
Last night there were four of us (Lynda couldn’t make it) sitting around a table at the 3rd Avenue Dunn Brother’s coffee shop. We briefly discussed Wired for Story: The Writers Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence, although none of us had actually made it through the book.
“I didn’t like it,” Monica said. “It felt like a marketing gimmick.”
“I know!” I piped up, eager to vent. “It was like the same old advice from any generic writing book, but she slapped in a few quotes about brain science at the beginning of each chapter. And it wasn’t very well written.”
“Yeah…I agree,” Kristin said softly, nodding. She’s too nice to totally trash a book the way Monica and I do.
“I’m glad I didn’t actually read it, then,” Bethany said. “I’m just here to say good-bye to Eva.”
“See, I assumed the book was written by an actual neuroscientist,” I continued, flipping to the back cover to read about the author, Lisa Cron. “But she’s a story consultant for Warner Brothers and she used to be an agent. She doesn’t know about the brain.”
“She ain’t no scientist!” Monica declared, slapping the table, and we all laughed.
And with that, our discussion of Wired for Story ended, but we stayed at the coffee shop for another hour and a half, dishing the dirt about book we’d read lately.
I gushed about The Signature of All Things and The Last American Man by Elizabeth Gilbert, both of which I recently read. “I always liked her, but now… I am just in awe of her.”
“Have you seen her TED talk on creativity?” Kristin asked.
“It’s soo good,” I swooned.
“She’s got that new book coming out,” Monica said. She works at Barnes & Noble and always knows the haps when it comes to books. “What’s it called… Big Magic?”
“You guys should read that for your next book club,” I said, feeling sad that I wouldn’t be around.
After we talked about books we loved, Monica bitched to us about a book she’d read recently that she hated. “I hated the author’s last book, so I don’t know what I was thinking this time… But the cover was so pretty…”
“Covers get me, too,” Bethany sympathized.
“But it was horrible! I wanted to throw it across the room! The plot was ridiculous and there was absolutely no character arc.”
We all shook our heads in disgust.
We were four women sitting around gossiping, but instead of talking about men or the neighbors, we were gossiping about books.
“You guys, I have to tell you something,” I said, lowering my voice and leaning in as if I was about to confess to a brownie binge or hooking up with an ex-boyfriend. “I read all of the Twilight books, like all of them, in a three-day weekend. The whole time I was like “this is so dumb, these characters are so dumb,” but I could not stop reading.”
“I did the same thing with Vampire Academy,” Monica admitted. “They’re like candy. But then I got to the last book, and I was like, why? What am I doing? I’m done here.”
It was like a scene from Sex in the City, except we were swapping stories of the novels we’d taken to bed. There was Kristin, the soft-spoken third grade teacher who reads YA and Middle-Grade, Monica, the fast-talking former-New Yorker who used to work in publishing and has read (or at least knows about) every book in the world, sweet country-girl Bethany who likes historical fiction and literary novels, and then me, who reads a little bit of everything.
I came away from our meeting with a list of books to read (and some to avoid). And I can only hope that when I move to the DC area I can find a book club half as great as this one!
BOOKS WE READ IN BOOK CLUB THIS YEAR:
How to Write a Damn Good Novel by James N Frey — We all hated it.
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder — We liked it. A classic.
How to Write Irresistible Kit Lit by Mary Kole — Read it! We loved it!
Steering the Craft by Ursula LeGuin — We enjoyed it, and it’s good for groups because you can do some of the exercises together.
Wired for Story by Lisa Cron — Obviously, we do not recommend it.