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The State of Books

We had our most recent -- and most disappointing -- book club meeting last Saturday. The book was John F. Kennedy's Profiles in Courage. Hence, we thought, on Scory's recommendation, that it would be nice to meet at the JFK Museum.

MP let me know on Friday that, due to his late acquisition of the book, he was only on page 18 and wouldn't be joining us. Way to plan ahead, MP! JC, treacle_well, and I all showed up before the appointed meeting time. briganski warned me the day before that he might be a little bit late, but that he would definitely be there. He never showed. And Scory, whose idea it was to meet at the museum in the first place, also never showed. Thus, the three of us had a short discussion, but there was definitely a feeling of resignation in the air.

One of my pet peeves, as should be excruciatingly obvious from several of my posts, is people who say they're going to do one thing and then don't. It's a form of hypocrisy, and hypocrisy is one of the things I'm least tolerant of. Often, when you say you're going to do something and don't, you negatively impact other people, who made accomodations in their lives for what you said you were going to do.

At least MP was honest and straightforward with me. I'm disappointed he couldn't make it, but he didn't try any chickenshit evasion or avoidance. briganski, on the other hand, is a case study in avoidance technique. He actually told me he'd read the book and that he'd be there. But when I called his house phone 20 minutes after we were supposed to start, he was just hanging out at home. And, when JC asked him for his take on the book Sunday afternoon during football, briganski quickly shot back, "I don't want to talk about it right now. Okay...suspicious...none of us think he read the book.

And then Scory... he has no clue how to schedule his time or communicate his situation to others. I asked the club members several times if they had any conflicts with a short list of dates and times. I heard nothing from Scory, so I picked the date and time that seemed to work best for everybody. *Then* Scory informs me that he can't make it at that time, but that if we hold the meeting two hours later he can be there. So, rather than starting the meeting at 12 as originally planned, I had us all meet at 1 to tour the museum and then start discussion at 2, to accomodate Scory's schedule. We were all understandably pissed that he never showed, and I get the feeling he never really thought he'd actually make it there all along. Why is it so difficult for someone to say, "Look, I'd like to be there but have another conflict, so don't count on me"?!?

I've been accused of being confrontational, but really the opposite is true. Clear, direct communication is not confrontational; rather, it prevents any sort of conflict or confrontation by ensuring that everyone is on the same page.

Due to the poor outing last week, there have been grumblings about whether it's worth continuing book club. The general feeling is, why should those of us who are there all the time and always get the book read go that extra mile if others are going to lack the basic effort and courtesy to be honest about the degree they're willing to participate? To this JC added, "It's all going to end when you leave for London anyway, so why bother?" However, book club is very important to me, and I intend to do my best to keep it running as long as there is someone else interested in it. And I'd like to think, however naive I may be about it, that there'd be enough interest to keep it going even after I'd moved on.

In the meantime, I took a break this past week from most book club thoughts, partly because I was awaiting Jenn's response about whether she wanted in or not, and partly because I didn't want to think about last Saturday's meeting.

Instead, I looked for something fun to read, entirely of my own choosing. I looked around and initially picked up Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, but it wasn't quite what I was looking for. Another quick glance at my bookshelf revealed The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Seeing as how I'd never read any of the Adams books and the movie is coming out this summer, this was a perfect choice.

I'm surprised how quick a read it is, though. I've already finished the first book, having spent just a few hours over three days. I'm constantly dismayed by how much faster everyone reads than me, but I keep forgetting that a lot of my friends read a lot of light science fiction while I tend to gravitate towards more "serious" literature which, naturally, takes longer to read. Anyway, I'm really enjoying Hitchhiker and, at this rate, could be through all 800+ pages in just a couple of weeks.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 21st, 2005 02:39 pm (UTC)
I've been accused of being confrontational, but really the opposite is true.

Yeah, not so happy with the passive-aggressive sideswipe.
Jan. 21st, 2005 02:56 pm (UTC)
Oh give me a break! You're hardly the only person to call me confrontational. This wasn't meant as a swipe at you at all. This post has been mulling around in my head for most of the past week, so while, yes, you put the idea of "confrontations" back in my head, I would have said much the same thing whether or not you had commented on the other post.
Jan. 22nd, 2005 08:31 pm (UTC)
Heavy reading schedule
The books you pick to read could hardly be called light fare. You might consider lightening up. Read "Winnie the Poo" or something.

I recently attended a lecture on creativity in which "The Wizard of Oz" was presented as a parable for the barriers to attaining the creative life. The various characters possessed the traits they sought but only realized it when the Wizard acknowledged their achievements with trinkets and certificates.

Perhaps you could dig a similar lesson out of Winnie. Or some other equally apparently-simple work of common wisdom.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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