Book Club Shaming

I’ve already started reading the mysteries slated for our new season’s Sleuth Book Club, a group on the island that shares a love of mysteries. The question is, will I remember them in four months when it comes time to discuss them? Probably not.

I usually can’t even remember what movie we watched last night. Well, this time I can. It was a cringeworthy Mel Gibson flick that Amazon had resurrected from 1999. It was too violent for me; I’m strongly opposed to watching men punch women, so the movie got a no-star review from my household. I should have been looking at my Kindle instead.

Back to books I have read and forgotten.

I remember my mother, who devoured a book a day when she was younger, used to re-read some of those same books when she was the age I am now. I didn’t understand it at the time but today it makes perfect sense. She probably had long ago mislaid the prose even if the plot was still a vague memory. It was like reading a new book.

I read a book and just like the movies my man and I watch every night it is gone within twenty-four hours.

There’s nothing worse than sitting around a book club looking lost while others mention certain characters or plot twists, discuss the intricacies of relationships and writing techniques.  Meanwhile, I’m checking my watch and vowing I will wait until the night before to binge read the next mystery on the list.

I used to take notes and make my own lists of characters. But that was time consuming and took some of the joy out of reading. Then I discovered SuperSummary and BookRags.

SuperSummary advertises ninety million “lifetime readers” and offers 7,800 study guides. When I discovered it, I realized it was right up my alley. It claims to refresh your memory of key events and big ideas, unlock underlying meaning, and follow character arcs from tragedy to triumph.

It’s the same with BookRags, although at $20 a month subscription, it’s a bit pricey. I found four of the five Sleuth titles I was looking for and downloaded them onto my computer, then I cancelled my subscription. Does that sound like a familiar tactic for streaming aficionados?

Now I can read without fear of being shamed at my book club. A quick review of the study guide the morning before the meeting and I am good to go.

I discovered this also works for pleasure. When I started reading The Man Who Died Twice by Richard Osman the other day, I was immediately lost. Who are the characters? What are their names? Where is this going? I knew it was a good book so I was determined to stay the course, with a helping hand from one of my two guides.

Right away I was getting it. Here were the main characters and their relationships to each other. And the rest of the characters . . . so many it reminded me of one of my books.

This is amazing I told myself as I began downloading summaries and “reading” the plots of all those books I had been interested in but haven’t had time to read. Why I can go through a whole library of 7,800 in less than a year—assuming a SuperSummary an hour.

Cheating? I think not. The next time the book club leader asks if we have “read” any interesting books lately, I’m looking forward to rattling off forty or fifty without batting an eye.

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