August’s meeting

12 enthusiastic souls gathered on the balcony of Bellini to welcome back the benevolent dictator back from her travels. While some things change (new menu – gnocchi with burrata? yes please – and new waiters – hi Andre!) some things stay the same. Out came the register, out came the reams and reams of paper, out came the snide comments about the lack of French spoken… Oh yes, I was back alright, it was like I’d never been away!

This month we welcomed three newcomers to the book club clan – Richard, Deidre, and Carolina. All three got heavily involved with discussions and didn’t seem to scared off by the slightly exuberant conversations around them which bodes well for the future!

It was great to see some familiar faces – Bad Kelly; Little Kelly; “No nickname that I know about” Courtney; Southern Lauren; Philip the First Man; Kirsten; Julia; and Anna.

This month’s book was Paper Towns by John Green. Touted as a “book for the boys” I was thrilled to see that the group as a whole generally liked it. Only one dislike to six likes and four “mehs”. Overall, a positive result I think!

When asked to describe the book in one word, there were a variety of suggestions. Teenager; disappointing; wikipedia; suspense; jogged memories; and I wish I was drunk (I’m not sure if this was a general comment or a more general wish of being on holiday while reading this). Richard even admitted to missing his stop on the metro more than once because he was so engrossed – the mark of a good book and therefore perfectly understandable!

There was a long discussion about the roles we play in high school and the cliques which form. The majority of book club seemed to remember fitting into the nerd/music/academic groups. We were also reminded of the old adage “Never peak at high school” when we recalled what had happened to members of the ‘cool group’ since!

We’ve read a number of ‘young adult’ books in book club recently and so some members voiced surprise at the way in which the book was written (“much better than I first thought”) and I was particularly struck by the depth of the themes explored. It was felt that Green’s writing style probably captured the way teenagers think they sound like when they talk – the novel offers a romantic ideal of teenagers in their various forms and, as such, a teen reading the book would probably recognise themselves in one (or all) of the characters.

There were a number of different opinions on Margo’s actions in the novel. Was she selfish (leaving her friends and family without saying goodbye, allowing them to think the worst); was she hopeful (realising that she needed more than she had); or was the whole thing slightly depressing (that she couldn’t find more in her current situation)? Margo, in general, was not a particularly likeable character. She was described by one book clubber as being “cold inside” and “poisoning everything around her”.

We discussed the ending (because all the book club accompaniments to this book told us too) and in general, we thought that the last line was just such a … teenage line. As if Green had written it and thought “damn, that’s so deep, and profound” and then went and had a cup of coffee.

So that’s that. Paper Towns. Awesome. I’ll leave you with a quote from the book that made me a) laugh and b) think of book club.

Talking to a drunk person was like talking to an extremely happy, severely brain damaged three year old.

Happy Wednesday all!


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