I am part of a monthly Harry Potter book club that meets at my friend Mary’s place. It’s pretty awesome. Here’s Mary on the subject:
My friends and I have been rereading Harry Potter since September and meeting every month to discuss one of the books.
We’re on Order of the Phoenix right now and I thought I’d give a bit of an update on starting book clubs with friends. We didn’t really gave a plan going into it. I had researched a lot of book club discussions and looked at a lot of hp resources but knew that it wouldn’t work for us. Considering we’re a bunch of 25+ adults who grew up with these books, we knew the average type of topics and questions wouldn’t be what we wanted to discuss.
So the approach has mostly been to just seen what comes up as we jump into it. Meetings tend to run 2-3 hours of solid conversation. It helps to have a few people who take notes as they read and someone who is decent at keeping conversations on track, knowing when to let things run off in another direction and when to pull it back.
Certain themes of interest emerged by the second meeting:
- frustrations with the text ie. plotting, unanswered questions, weak or confusing characterization. Basically seeing if we’re able to tear apart the book and whether is stands up to being read as an adult.
- beyond the text. Lots of thoughts about what isn’t written. The wizarding world and how it must work. You don’t care a lot about things like politics, industry, trade, infrastructure, education etc. as a kid. It seems we are very concerned and interested in these fairly mundane everyday things now and give a fair amount of time to discussing how the wizarding world must function as a society.
- closely following the story arcs of characters other than Harry throughout the series. I’ve been really interested in Hermione’s story and find it a very different experience to watch her grow up compared to growing up with her. And reading into what people like Snape and Dumbledore are doing in the earlier books, knowing how things go later on, has been interesting.
- memories of reading the series for the first time. We often compare our thoughts and feelings now to what they were when we were growing up and reading the books as they were released. Are we more or less compassionate towards certain characters now? I find I understand and empathize with the adult characters a lot more now.
Obviously these might be different depending on the group of people, but this is what I find comes up every meeting.
Starting a book club for a beloved series that you’ve read before, probably multiple times, is very different than starting a normal book club. You can’t have a generic guide or outline because it depends so much on what people are bringing to the table. This isn’t a first reading where we need help digging into the themes. We’ve been intimately involved with the series for 15 years and I would go as far to say that it’s a defining part of our generation. Starting this kind of book club is not so much figuring out what you’re going to talk about and more about steering conversations into interesting places.
Other things needed for bookclub: snacks. I didn’t know at first whether this would be a drinking book club or not. It is not, really. Although we did kick it off with homemade butterbeer. We mostly have snacks though. Homemade chocolate frogs.
It’s been a really fun way to get together on a regular basis with friends who share your interests.
We should be finished the series in March and I’ll update you again when we do.
Sons of Anarchy is incredibly predictable. Instead of the cliche of having the good guys always win, on Sons of Anarchy, everyone loses, including the viewer.
The show strives to make its viewers suffer as much as its characters. The writers probably think of their show as a Shakespearean tragedy. I think they’re going for a tone similar to the one Game of Thrones strikes. But they’re writing it so poorly, and I can see where this is going. This is going to sink to Dexter-esque depths of terrible writing, and I’m not following it into the abyss.
A show has to be pretty bad to make me stop watching. I’m still watching that unholy trainwreck, How I Met Your Mother, for Frigg’s sake.