I have mentioned before that I am a lifelong reader and love to read, but I don't love to read everything. I like fiction way more than I do non-fiction, and I really like to connect to at least one character in the book I am reading. I am not a history buff in the slightest. In fact, I would say history and geography were my least favorite subjects in school. I loved English, math and science. This month we had a tome to read for book club - Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson. It was over 600 pages long.
While I do like historical fiction, this did not come close. It was heavy into data and art history to begin with, then moved into weaponry, the human body and dissecting cadavers to understand what lay beneath, then architecture, to sewers and canals, and back to art history. The book did not cover much in the way of his personal life at all since in the thousands of pages of journals he left behind, it was his discoveries of the world around them that he wrote about, not his life. We learned about a lot of details of how he created curls, folds in fabric and highlights on skin. We learned how the mouth muscles move to smile and what we were supposed to see in works of art. And did I mention it was over 600 pages long?! I will have to admit, this book generated the most discussion we have had in our book club, and we all learned a great deal. It was like we were back in school. People set aside specific allotted time each night to finish it. I had to take several breaks and read other things, finishing a couple of other books along the way, but had to really buckle down this week to get it done. Hats off to Brenda who finished it several weeks ago, and has already read next month's book. She did not read before joining this book club, and now she is the star. Plus she works full time, and I am now retired!
The reason to join a book club is to read things outside your comfort zone or beyond your normal genre. If you don't read something just because you don't like it, you should not be in a book club--you can do that on your own. I disliked the book almost from the start, and definitely disliked it the most of any of us in book club, but even I saw some redeeming qualities in it, and I did finish it. I was never so happy for a character to die, which signaled the book was ending! Am I glad I read it? Probably not, but I am glad I am in a book club, and love discussing books with some very literate women.
Several years ago in a another book club I was in, we read Bury Me Standing - another non-fiction cultural anthropology thesis. Then, over half of the book club members did not even get to the halfway point (I finished it). I renamed the book Bury me Reading. I decided to bring back the title and had Clay create an award for us. Ann was officially given the title today.
She gets the coveted award until someone else earns it. Most of us pick books we have not read, so you never know what you are getting into, and that is fun. We all would love for everyone to love what we pick, but that won't happen every time. I can remember a dog I picked in the old book club--Independence Day by Richard Ford. It won the Pulitzer Prize and PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction in 1996, becoming the first novel ever to win both awards in a single year so I thought it had to be great. It was 464 pages and I think it covered 10 days in his life, and it was fiction. We all hated it. So you just never know.
One thing that made this read more palatable was I found Da Vinci Chianti and that helped while I was reading.
Ann was on the same page and trying to butter us up today, she found some chianti with Da Vinci's painting on it Lady with an Ermine.
I would not have known the title to the painting had I not read the book!
Would I recommend that you read Leonardo Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson? Only if you have trouble sleeping at night. It was a great sleeping pill for me, and I never fall asleep reading. Did I mention it was over 600 pages long?! To be fair, if you go online and read reviews, probably more people liked it than didn't. Bill Gates highly recommends it and Leonardo Da Caprio has bought the movie rights. I don't think that will be a movie I will be lining up to see. I have decided it takes all kinds. I like books that engage me and I can't put down. I like to look at art and see what I like or don't like about it, not what I am supposed to see. I like music that has lyrics over classical fare, and I like movies and plays over opera. But I do love book club and will read whatever comes my way. You can't review it if you haven't read it--just like you can't complain about who is elected if you didn't vote!