‘The Known World’ Falls Flat for Friends Book Group

DetailsIt had been a while since my last visit it to the Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Alone book group discussion at Zuma Coffee House in Birmingham. The Baldwin Public Library’s monthly group met just last week, so I made it a point to pull up a chair and join the conversation on their latest pick The Known World by Edward P. Jones.

Jones’s Pulitzer Prize winner apparently didn’t have quite the same awe-inspiring effect on the book club as it did on the literary masses. While it was agreed by all that The Known World certainly deserves the nod it received globally for its content, the heavy-hitting work of fiction made a much softer thud among the group at Zuma.

Though the Friends had mixed reviews regarding The Known World, the book decidedly paved the way for interesting paths of digression. Haves versus have-nots, indentured servants, modern day slaves, and racial passing were just a few of the many hot topics that kept the coffee and conversation flowing.

For some readers finishing a book and moving right on to the next title simply isn’t enough. Readers often feel the need to dig a little deeper and hash out the themes and meanings behind different authors and their works; for this the book club is key.

While there are some who equate the idea of a good book discussion with that of a solid snooze, many of us who voraciously read find it nothing but narcotic. Attempting to fit the literary pieces of a written work into the larger puzzle of life is not a thundering headache, but rather a nice pop of head candy in an otherwise “think for you” world.

The Friends group is an easy, ever-changing, laid back bunch. However, if you’re more the solitary type there are a couple of smart book groups online that have caught my eye over the past few months. I haven’t participated in any of them but Algonquin, The New Yorker, and NPR all offer interactive sites where readers can engage.

If you are interested in joining the next Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Alone book group discussion, it will take place at Zuma Coffee House in Birmingham on Tuesday, June 21st at 7:00 pm. Kathryn Bergeron, who hosts the monthly meetings, has announced The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows as the next selection. Copies are available at the Baldwin Public Library.

*Support your local bookstores, libraries, and universities. It matters.

-Post by Megan Shaffer

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