This morning was book club at my local library. It was my first book club meeting ever. I figure, as a librarian I should at least experience one and see what it’s all about.
So this morning I woke up and was feeling kind of groggy. I ended up spending too much time on the computer so I left my house later than I expected. I walked to the library at a pace that I haven’t kept in a long time so I arrived dripping with sweat (I exagerate), but fortunately I have a handkerchief just for that reason. I did actually make it there in 20 minutes so I’m pretty proud – it’s the first time I’ve ever really walked from home to the library.
Anyway, I got there on time and just followed two women to the room that it was being held. There were croissants, muffins, fruit and coffee. Free food is always a plus. I was definitely the youngest person there which was fine but I wasn’t the only newbie so that was nice. After about 10 minutes a guy comes in (the only guy). He actually stayed for 30 minutes or so, but it was obvious he came primarily for the food.
The discussion was actually pretty good and I was happy to contribute my opinions and ideas. It really did give me a lot to think about. Normally in new groups I’m not much of a talker, but I felt comfortable and at ease to speak there. It’s really intersting to hear other people and their views on the book and on the ideas that the book explores. (BTW, the book was The Hominids as I posted last week). In particular the idea of personal freedoms and privacy was debated. The neanderthal society in the book makes use of an advanced surveillance system that records everything an individual does, says and everywhere s/he goes. We are told that, only the individual has access to their records unless a crime has been committed, in which case the vault can be opened to review if it’s true. In our society, this would not be accepted, right? because we, or at least I, distrust the government, corporations, and individuals, say hackers, from breaking in and reviewing my records – yet on the other hand, if I’m not doing anything illegal, why does it matter? The neanderthals in the book experience very little crime, and those who do commit crime are not sentenced to prison, but rather they, and their blood relatives are sterilized (their belief that crime can be genetic, and also it’s the ultimate price since no legacy of your being will live on). It’s so confusing. Would you be willing to give up your privacy, if it could lead to a crime-free society (or at least drastically reduced crime)? At first I straight-out thought “NO!”, but now, I realize it’s more complicated than that.
I’m still thinking about this topic as well as many others we discussed. I really enjoyed the club because it got me to really think about books like I haven’t before. In the past when talking about books with friends it was always a judgement of enjoyment (was it good or bad) and not much discussion about the content (the ideas, issues, plot, characters) as the book club generates. Overall a good experience and I do expect to return next month.