I just (virtually) visited my first book club. I met a lovely group of women who’ve just read My Christmas Number One and wanted to talk about the characters and the themes and what struck them most about the story. It was incredible. I’m still sparkling from the experience, so I wanted to blog about it straight away. Because:
There are readers and there are readers and there are readers.
We are all three types of readers at different times. Sometimes we read for entertainment or relaxation. Sometimes we read for information and sometimes we read for analysis. There are different degrees of critical thinking involved in these three types, but they are all ‘right’ and all valid.
I LOVE hearing from readers who have read my books and found them enjoyable and relaxing (although one person currently reading a Match Made in Venice is also getting strung out by the sexual tension which just won’t break until it’s ready – LOL sorry I write slow burn). My books are entertainment and definitely should be read in the bath or with a glass of wine or after a long day at work. I very much hope to add to people’s enjoyment of a quiet evening or a rainy day (or a sunny day for all those devoted bookworms).
Reading for information is a bit scarier for a writer, because here we get the kinds of readers who are maybe just curious, who picked up the book with a view to talk or write about it to a further audience in a particular context, but who aren’t necessarily fans of the author or the genre. Looking for an ‘unbiased’ opinion on a work of fiction is always really difficult, because all characters have biases, as all reviewers have their own taste. I find this a bit hit and miss and of course it depends on a lot of factors, including the previous book read by this type of reader, how big their to-be-read pile is, what other reviewers are saying and any views on the publishing industry in general. It’s impossible to know all this stuff about every reviewer. But book hype is always good and not every book is for every person.
And then we get to the analytical readers. These are your book club peeps and they are precious! Although they are definitely reading for enjoyment as well, it’s not only for enjoyment. They want to deeply engage with the content of the book. The questions this book club had for me about My Christmas Number One! We talked about the politics of Colombia, about cross-cultural relationships, we talked about prejudice and trauma and even safe sex!
It was close to my proudest moment as an author, that my book, this labour of love that is My Christmas Number One, sparked this analysis, this critical thinking about life and literature – and, of course, about love, because that’s what I write.
So merci bien to the Parisian book club who all read my book and made this author’s day. Bisous.
Incidentally, My Christmas Number One has a tweaked cover this year to match my other books! Look at Cara and Javi smooching on the cover!