Tonight I asked Kim what I thought was a harmless question that went something like, “If you didn’t care about what the other members of the book club thought, what book would you recommend we all read?”
Two seconds into her reply and numerous follow-up questions later, I realized my intention for asking the question had been garbled by its delivery. Two hours later I’m left to ponder a number of questions that came out of our discussion:
- How narrow are my tastes in literature, music, and movies?
- What does a person’s choice in literature, music, and movies tell us about them if anything?
- Am I a snob because my tastes in those areas typically fall outside the mainstream?
I mentioned that most music I discover comes to me by referral, and if there’s a story behind it, then even better. A friend in high school told me about this group he saw in London that blew his mind. He described how hard and how loud they played. He told me how their guitarist jammed so hard he nearly fell off the stage. The group was The Who and I don’t think two days went by before I showed up on his doorstep with a blank cassette in hand ready to dub his Who’s Next album.
I wrongly assumed the book club would work in a similar fashion where each member would suggest books that stuck with them over the years or that moved them to action. Or just moved them. Instead everyone suggested books they wanted to read but hadn’t. To me, this is the difference between a friend telling me about his favorite album versus telling me what album he’d like to listen to but hasn’t yet.
This isn’t to say this is how a book club should be run. This is the first club I’ve joined, and I did so based on the fact that I find each of the members interesting and a bit eclectic. Sure, I want to read a few books, but I’m also hoping to learn more about each person and what makes them tick. The people interest me more than the books.
The older I get the more I move away from the mainstream. I’m sure this is normal. It’s easy to round up a group of coworkers who want to see Avatar. But not as easy to drum up support to watch The Smartest Guys in the Room.
I doubt I’d recognize a song on the Top 40. Most blockbuster movies put me to sleep, and best seller and Oprah endorsed books just don’t capture my interest very often. This is where the snob in me comes out. I don’t look down on those whose interests bend towards the mainstream, but I find most mainstream art to be shallow and built for the short term.
For example, I can’t imagine my kids will grow up caring about a single performer who has appeared on American Idol. But I’d like to think they will learn to appreciate Revolver or Wish You Were Here one day.
But I could be wrong.
And to answer the three questions I posed; quite, not much, and maybe.