The reading journal is an attempt to go beyond bullet points- from making lists of which books I read and try to see the developing of a character or plot or relation. Taking the example of the book discussion on “Night School” by Lee Child, we see some points which can help organize a Reading Book Club and deepen the –Art of Reading.
MONTHLY MEETING-9TH APRIL 2018
The book discussion on –Night School-by Lee Child , at the Courtney Park Library Branch book club brought up the question- What makes these characters (like Jack Reacher) so likeable and enduring.
The book in the thriller genre was something which some members said was not what they read usually, but found it to be a good read, enjoyable, engaging and every chapter had a hook or revelation which led the readers to wanting to read on. The ending was a bit lame, but on the whole most members gave it a 7 out of 10.
THE ORGANIZATION OF THE BOOK CLUB.
Every month, we discuss a book after reading it, or shall we say-trying to read it..as many times the book cannot be finished, some of them being Award winning books-but leave the Members wondering what is there to give an award for?
Then the members give their comments and rating on the books- this is followed by discussions on the characters, plot, genre and what we can get out of this particular work of literature.
HOW TO READ?…10 pages a day tactics
In these times,when people have lost the Reading Habit – the suggestion of one veteran of Reading Clubs – Read at least 10 pages a day- is a very handy one.
In 30 days, we can finish 300 page book.
One more idea- being followed and developed over a period of time (a few years) is to keep a Reading Journal- in which one records one’s thoughts-ideas and takeaways from a book.
CASE EXAMPLES FROM LEE CHILD’S-NIGHT SCHOOL- JACK REACHER
CAN A CHARACTER LIKE JR EXIST?
All members agreed that governments do things which the common citizens would be alarmed if they came to know. These things protect national interests within the country and outside, and though JR is a composite of many characters- a person who can pull the trigger and also be highly analytical- there are such persons on the ground.
DO THEY DISTURB THE COUNTRIES WHERE THEY WORK
Yes..this opinion came out in the discussions, as it was pointed out that Europe, Middle East, North Africa have been disturbed by agents such as JR who come and disturb the many dynamics of a region and leave a mess.
ANOTHER TYPE OF WAR.
This brought us to the discussion on the types of conflict within North American society, which is observing the 50th anniversary of the assassination of MLK (Martin Luther King).
“Here, things are much more political, social. In Europe, especially Eastern Europe-the countries emerging from post-Soviet times have been disturbed at the level of Government, regimes, constitution- as the example of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine shows. There are other examples.”
Lee Child brings out the nuances of what is patriotism in a few lines….(If one has a Reading Journal Mindset-one can look for such passages –What can we learn from this?)
“Do you love your country, Mr.Reacher?”
“Perhaps that answers my question.”
“I prefer to think of it as healthy not sceptical respect”
“Not very patriotic.”
“Exactly Patriotic. My country, right or wrong. Which means nothing, unless you admit your country is wrong sometimes. Loving a country that was right all the time would be common sense, not patriotism.”
Griezman said, “ I am sorry your country is having these troubles.”
Reacher said , “ Do you love your country?”
“It’s too early to say. It was only fifty years ago. We changed more than any other country has ever changed. I think we were doing OK. But the people from the east have set us back. Economically,of course. And politically. We’re seeing things we haven’t seen before.”
“Like the bar Helmut Klopp called you from.”
“We have to bide our time. We can’t arrest them for thought crimes.We need actual crimes.”
READING JOURNAL NOTE…Firstly – the reading journal is an attempt to go beyond bullet points- from making lists of which books I read and try to see the developing of a character or plot or relation.
In the above exchange between the Military Police US Agent-Jack Reacher with the German Police Chief Griezman the developing understanding of what constitutes patriotism and the flux in their society which re-unification of Germany has brought about comes forward. As mentioned earlier- a character or agent like US MP Jack Reacher can and does exist, and can change the dynamics of a society by intervening in many ways. The German local policeman has to contend with many forces and has to stay on in that very society, where he will remain answerable and accountable, while a foreign agent like Reacher answers to his overseas government. The many nuances of what constitutes patriotism (My country right or wrong) also comes out. This book is set in the 1990s..Twenty plus years down the line, post Invasion-Destruction of Iraq, Syria, Libya the Europe of 2010s..faces many challenges with the refugee crises brought about by foreign interventions..This is an Industry in itself- with the military minds creating situations which will keep creating more needs for likes of themselves. Ukraine is another living example.
Many such notes have been made from different sections of Night School-not all can/should be posted publicly. However, the above example shows how to develop further –The Art of Reading.
ORGANIZATION OF THE BOOK CLUB…Discussing rating a piece of work in a joint setting helps to add a different level to the reading experience
10 PAGES A DAY..Is a great way to keep the reading habit going
READING JOURNAL..Helps go into nuances..like what is Patriotism? As brought about in the dialogue between Agent Reacher and Policeman Griezman
HOW /WHY TO SELECT A BOOK ..This point is coming up in our discussions as we gear up for the selections for next year..Do we include Non Fiction, Biographies, Spiritual books….are some suggestions.
POST SCRIPT…After this lively discussion I sat with my son and saw the 2012 Movie –where Tom Cruise plays Jack Reacher
To Try to answer the question- what makes a character like JR- so enduring and likeable- maybe it is a character which can do things which normal people hope /want to do, but cannot.
Would like to hear from Readers, their views on this