The Twitter feed “Fake Library Stats” recently tweeted “After complaining the pituitary glands of 63% of librarians secrete a hormone that is necessary to keep them alive.” Sure, there’s a stereotype that we librarians like to complain but we can also be overwhelmingly positive when it comes to resources we offer. And I’m about to be super positive about the fact that I just read a library book and did not enjoy it at all.
The library’s Graphic Novel Book Club just finished reading and discussing Yuichi Yokoyama’s Garden. In Garden, a large group of people with strange masks and costumes on explore a strange garden and describe what they see in terse sentences. That goes on for 300 pages in which none of the characters are developed and nothing really happens in a conventional plot kind of way. As a result, I was feeling nervous before the meeting. I couldn’t think of a single productive thing to say about it. Worse, I was reminded of a frustrating, non-library book club meeting I’d attended to discuss Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore in which most participants could only comment on the weirdness of the novel. Was that going to be me?! After finishing the reading all I could think was, “Huh. Well. I just don’t . . . What?! I don’t get it. It’s weird.” Neither articulate nor a good way to start a conversation. I felt like I was missing something. But this is one of the best things to happen to a book club because it this case everyone felt the same way and was more than willing to talk about how much they disliked the reading experience and why. It turns out this makes for a much more fruitful conversations than when everyone unanimously enjoys a book. In those cases all you can do is say, “yeah, it was good. I liked the art and the characters and the story. Yup.”
I’m willing to consider the possibility that I really just didn’t get it. So give it a try for yourself and see! Maybe ask some friends to read it too. It might result in a heated debate if one of you loves it. Or, you might just have a pleasant time complaining about how annoying it was. Either way is pretty fun.
Side note: Graphic Novel Book Club is free and open to the public. We meet on the third Wednesday of every month at Jo's Coffee Downtown and you can find our reading list on the Events page of the Library's website.