While wasting time on a certain social networking website, I noticed that a couple of my friends had joined a group called Queer Book Club. Seeing that it was started by someone else I know through the local queer community, I submitted a request to join as well, which was quickly granted. In the ensuing online discussion, I found out that the Club’s plan was to focus on the books for this year’s Canada Reads competition.
Now, I love Canada Reads as much as another other CBC-obsessed literary nerd… And I honestly believe that as queers, we bring a unique and valuable perspective to any and all interprepations of plot and character, no matter the genre or category… But really? Canada Reads? Dudes, I can talk about Canada Reads with my mom, or my dentist, or the lady sitting next to me on the bus… I joined this club because I’m craving long discussions about novels such as Zami with 8 other queers who’ve also read it five million times like I have!
Or who are at least willing to read it once, outside of a university classroom.
I try to eventually get through the books that make it into each year’s Canada Reads competition, and sometimes I even read them ahead of time… Though usually that’s a fluke, or because my mother sends them to me. Sometimes, the books may even be ones that I love: The Book of Negroes is a case in point (and it won the 2009 competition).
(Of course, if you were reading The Book of Negroes with a book club with me, I’d get all intercontextual on y’all, and ask that you also read Nalo Hopkinson’s Brown Girl in the Ring, and a book or two from Octavia Butler’s Patternist series… My parents were English teachers, and I’ve been conditioned to make everything into a 1000-word compare-and-contrast essay.)
So yeah, Canada Reads is great, and I’m glad that this group of queers in my town are going to sit down and discuss those books. However, there’s a ton of literature out there that’s written by queers authors and features queer characters and I never get enough chances to talk about it. I know the books exists, because they crop up on reading lists here and there, and the writers themselves blog about writing them. I also seek them out, searching the library catalogues and perusing the GBLTetc section of used book stores.
But I don’t just want it to be easier for me to find books with characters whose lives include a wide diversity of sexual and gender identities: I want a regular, ongoing opportunity to engage in face-to-face discussions, a community of readers to share my rants and raves. Oh, Queer Book Club, how I wish you were what I wanted you to be.
I actually posted a brief note on the group’s page, asking for anyone wanting to read queer books to message me. I got no bites, and was kinda told off by the group moderator. Well, she called me rude, and I couldn’t tell if she was joking, though I apologized for trying to poach members. Anyway, I could see how that would put off any potential collaborators, especially if we’ve never met in real life.
In related news, I’ve added several literary blogs to the Queer Canada Blogs blogroll this past week. We’ve got a real live author, a few avid readers, a book club (!!!) and a professional bookseller thrown in for good measure. Delving into the world of book blogs has been a whole new experience for me: They have their own memes and themed reviewer blogrolls! Who knew? I’d previously always thought that if I were to do a topic-specific blog, it’d be about DIY foodie stuff, but now I’m thinking I’d do something bookish.
Just going through these new QCB additions inspired me to make a list of what I read this past year, which is harder than expected simply because all my books are currently in boxes still (and my library doesn’t show my borrowing history when I log into my account: Annoying!). While I don’t necessarily own everything I read, seeing certain books always reminds me of other ones, and I think I need that in order to do an accurate 2010 list. So, I confirmed with my boss that I have all next week off work, and my priority is making and installing the new built-in bookcases I’ve planned for the apartment… That’ll be a dozen or so less boxes to trip over, which will make me a dozen or so times happier.