So today I went to my book club and had a fantastic experience. We were reading the Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. I tried to describe this book in my Goodreads account, and I was at a lost for words. It is an odd book. In a way it was ideal for book club because there is tons to talk about. I don’t know if the author was even completely sure what everything meant while he was writing it. The best I can say is it’s about a young black man in the 50s who is eager to make a difference in the world. Unfortunately he is thwarted by both the white and black community. He becomes the invisible man because he realizes that hiding underground is the only way to be himself. Ellison said The Waste Land by T.S. Elliott was his inspiration. While I am no expert on it, I can see how Waste Land with all its complex layers and diverse interpretations influenced Invisible Man. I can also see how the philosophies of the late 1940’s and 50’s from Heidegger, Levinas, Kierkegaard and Nietzche affected his writings. These thinkers believed that mankind started life pure and then slowly their minds are altered by society to justify negative behavior towards other human beings. Some say this is inevitable (as Ellison seems to think) and others feel man can break free and be an independent spirit (Ellison also seems to believe this…). I will have to do an entire entry one day about these great thinkers. I find them fascinating.
That’s not a good description but as close as I can get. It’s a pretty pessimistic book but also interesting. Clearly such a book provided lots of discussion on characters, themes, metaphors, writing style, politics then and now, imagery and more. The thing I love about the book club is that all opinions are respected and everyone is allowed to talk. We also have a wide variety of backgrounds and interests, which make discussion even more enriching. For instance, today I brought up my knowledge of philosophy and we talked about Plato and his invisible man (the Ring of Gyges story) along with other philosophers and how their ideas relate to the book. Politics, religion, poetry, community spirit, and plot were all enlightening topics. I am grateful to be a part of something where my opinion is respected and taken seriously.
Aside from being educational, the book club is also a lot of fun. I find it exciting to interact with women outside my close circle of friends. I have the best girlfriends, but I also like to branch out every now and then. It is good for me. I think it expands my understanding of the world and makes me a better person. I found the book club through Craigslist, and I must say I felt bold at the first meeting. It was a little scary to go to a meeting where I knew no one. I had no idea if I would fit-in or have a good time? It was a risk, but I’m glad I took it. I am going to miss the May meeting because I will be in Hawaii ( I know poor me!), and I really will miss it. Of course, with the waves and beach I won’t be missing it for long! Still, it will be great when June returns, and I can once again attend my book club.
I know it is hard to go out and meet new people- to expose yourself to unfamiliar settings and positions. Despite this risk, I challenge you to try it. Naturally be safe but look at meetup.com or craigslist and find a group that seems interesting. Join a knitting guild, a book club, a political campaign, the PTA, scrapbooking group, sports team, church group or volunteer organization- whatever gets you excited and meeting new people. I am confident it will make your life better as it has mine.
Also… the other great thing about meeting new people is that it is a lot of fun at little expense. Just the cost in gas and refreshments when it is my turn.