The Book Club Shock Treatment

It was a steep but short flight of stairs. I tentatively put one foot above the other and heaved myself up in the dark over each step. I tried following the host who had welcomed me with a curt nod. But he had already disappeared from view.

I came to the landing, then moved across the hallway and dining to the living room. I spotted the host then, battling with the lid of a box of snacks. He jerked his head to the left, gesturing me to keep moving on. The chattering voices from the other side gave me direction.  The bright light streaming in from the windows hurt my eyes.

I crossed the threshold of the wooden archway and 20 pairs of eyes stared at me. No, bore and drilled into me, silently demanding what business I had to be present amongst them. Fortunately for me, they quickly passed judgement and having declared me as an unworthy contender for their attention, their previously unwavering gaze slid from me to each other as they resumed their conversations.

I weaved my way across those squatting comfortably on the carpet, taking care not to topple over those sitting on the sofas. Inevitably I came to the farthest sofa in the room and claimed a spot for myself. Placed right by the window-side, it had been warmed by the bright yellow rays of the Sun. I perched my butt precariously, lest someone realize the mistake and rudely ask me to leave the room.

For a few nail-biting minutes as everyone continued to chat among themselves, I remained frozen, ready to leap up and run out at the slightest inkling of interrogation. Even though I had expected it, the worst did not really happen. A few minutes later, Iced Teas were handed around and surprise, surprise I was politely offered one too. I quickly grabbed the cold, frosty glass of my favourite beverage and drowned my gaze in it.

Shortly after, the discussion was initiated and the topic announced – Bias Against Female Authors.
I breathed in deep, cleared my throat and smiled to myself. I had this. There were quite a few new authors I had recently discovered and whose books I had devoured. In fact, all I ever read were women authors. Most romance novelists were women, I thought. I ticked off names mentally. I smiled to myself again, then quickly wiped it off lest someone mistake me for a real Cheshire cat. I would be leading this discussion and be the most authoritative speaker on the subject, I thought to myself.

As the discussion progressed, various interesting points and perspectives came forward. Arguments and then counter-arguments flowed thick and fast. After about 2 hours, we had but barely started. As each member of the club spoke, my head turned from one corner of the room to another. Eyes wide, I stared at these beings who had seemingly appeared from another planet. Being well-read acquired a new meaning. Names that were hitherto unknown to me were frequently mentioned. Those that I barely managed to recognize were tossed around like peanut shells in a bar on a Saturday night.

If pride could cause one to fall even while sitting down, I’d have grazed both my knees. Probably would have skinned my elbows.  And bruised my shins too! A fracture or two wouldn’t be improbable either. I was rudely told, by no one as such, that there was more to the world and in the world than romance.
I slowly inched my way into the middle of the room, in order to escape my turn as a speaker and sat there cowering. My confidence ebbed like the retreating tide. By now I was dreading the moment, wondering if anyone would be interested in what now I realized to be shoddy debutante novels authored by forgettable writers (read EL James or Stephanie Myers) suffering from a me-too-bestselling-author phenomenon.

Somehow I managed to blabber something about a romance novel written by a female author I hadn’t read earlier. Nevertheless, I made a mental note to not just read more but also to read ‘different’.

I have already started reading non-fiction. The book that you’ll find in my hands these days is ‘The Story of My Life’ by Hellen Keller. I shall go back to the meet next week surer of myself. I shall ace it in fact, I’m sure.

But wait, isn’t the topic for next week Science Fiction. YIKES!!!!

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

No Comments
  • MindandLifeMatters
    Posted at 01:17h, 18 May Reply

    Well written, I really liked the narrative script!

  • oneta hayes
    Posted at 02:27h, 18 May Reply

    Love your ability to describe the chagrin of this character. What a let down. Enjoyable reading. I’ve been in situations similar. Oh, my, how humbling.

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 07:24h, 18 May Reply

      Thank you, Oneta! Coming from a humor writer like yourself, that means a lot. 🙂

  • Feelings and Freedom
    Posted at 03:04h, 18 May Reply

    I know the experience didn’t turn out to be too good but you have written it so so well. I loved the way you have described everything from audience to the emotions. Very well narrated!!

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 10:28h, 18 May Reply

      I wouldn’t call it ‘not good’. Though it was an eye-opener, for sure. I learnt about new authors. So I guess for a reader/writer/aspiring author, that’s actually good 🙂 😀 Thank you! I am so glad you liked it. 🙂

  • mandibelle16
    Posted at 03:35h, 18 May Reply

    This is very interesting. For sure it is important to read different genres and writers, but let no one tell you romance writers have no skill, and that it isn’t a craft to develop great likeable characters to fall in love. Like any writing, romance novels can be good or bad. The best ones have different characters on the side and several plot lines. The characters are relatable and the men are perfect yet flawed. My one prof in university told me only women who are of “lower class” – she made some racist remarks – read those kind of books. I liked her as a prof but I was hurt by her words because I think some of the best stories are love stories. Even real life ove stories like how grandparents met in times of war. My God father knew he would marry my Godmother just by talking to her on the phone. In their seventies they’re still going strong! There are many great books of all types. I just like a little romance in mine, whatever the genre, we can all relate trying to find that one or a new one.

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 10:32h, 18 May Reply

      Well, if by reading happy love stories makes us ‘lower class’ so be it. I know a lot of people look down on romance – as if it’s a done thing that romance would be badly written. Any well written book is good and any badly written book is exactly that – bad! You’re so right! Thank you for sharing that sweet story about your godparents. It’s stories like these that warm your heart.

      • mandibelle16
        Posted at 18:21h, 18 May Reply

        You’re so welcome. And I’m happy you agree about the romance stories. 🙂

    • xaranahara
      Posted at 13:53h, 18 May Reply

      True. I would have made that professor eat her words. There are a lot of great Romance books.

      • mandibelle16
        Posted at 18:18h, 18 May Reply

        Yeah, I agree. She was old and set in her ways. She did make us read a harlequin romance from by gone eras. I read one from the 1960’s it was quite interesting how things have changed. Thanks for your thoughts.

        • xaranahara
          Posted at 22:05h, 19 May Reply

          Indeed, and no problem. Some professors are just a pain in the butt, but I would have liked the harlequin romance novels written in the 1960s. In my opinion, stuff written back then is SOOOO much easier to understand than the books written today. Everyone is so worried about being politically correct instead of writing a story.

          • mandibelle16
            Posted at 22:06h, 19 May

            Sometimes that’s true 🙂

          • xaranahara
            Posted at 22:13h, 19 May

            I’ve run into some professors that made me consider suicide or homicide. Trust me. They may have been smart, but I was ready to humble them real quick on my bad days. But I toughed out the class because I needed the credits.

          • mandibelle16
            Posted at 22:41h, 19 May

            Sorry to hear that. It sucks when you need the credits. If I abhorred the class I dropped it and picked up another. Better to get good grades I thought.

          • xaranahara
            Posted at 22:58h, 19 May

            Yeah, but I am not a very agreeable person, so I just tough it out.

    • Dr Meg Sorick
      Posted at 20:51h, 18 May Reply

      Amen to that!

  • Hira
    Posted at 05:34h, 18 May Reply

    Piyusha .. It is like you took me with you , I was there , all the time with you. Passing from hallway , dinning room and farthest sofa, drinking ..nibbling ! This is such good narrative!

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 10:34h, 18 May Reply

      Hira, Thank you for that amazing comment. What more does a writer want than to be able to transport the reader to a different world. So thrilled that I could do that. Thank you for that comment.

  • xaranahara
    Posted at 13:51h, 18 May Reply

    Sounds like the worst book club ever. I would have said hell no and got out of there. Snnnnnnobbbbssss. Personally, I would have told them to leave me alone and let me read my romance novels.

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 13:57h, 18 May Reply

      Oh no, Xara! I go back again and again. They were very kind and not snobbish at all. That’s just all me in my mind. 😀 It would do me good to learn from them and broaden my genres of reading. Amazing book exchanges happening that I would benefit from.

      • xaranahara
        Posted at 22:08h, 19 May Reply

        Oh Thank Goodness. You’re just nicer than I am, that’s for sure. Tell your mind to not trick me like that. I almost thought I had to save you from the books. Lord Have Mercy.

        • Wandering Soul
          Posted at 02:15h, 20 May Reply

          Hahahaha ! Thank you so much! You’re a loyal friend. 🙂

  • dvaal
    Posted at 15:51h, 18 May Reply

    Best of luck in you grabbing a hold of your confidence and speaking out. It is a hard mountain to climb but one I feel confident you will accomplish.

    • Wandering Soul
      Posted at 16:22h, 18 May Reply

      Oh, I have no lack of confidence. Just that I wasn’t aware of those authors or books they were discussing. Was a good eye-opener. I go back next week for the Sci-Fi Meet. I have no idea what I’ll talk about 😀 I’m sure it will be another learning curve for me.

  • Dr Meg Sorick
    Posted at 20:53h, 18 May Reply

    This was a terrific narrative! You pulled us right along with you… the uncomfortable feeling of being “the new girl”, the condescending attitudes of the other book club members… All perfect!

  • Pingback:497 marks out of 500! What lies ahead? | Anand's Parodies & Caricatures.
    Posted at 05:15h, 24 May Reply

    […] week Piyusha Vir, the Wandering Soul of the blogging world, decided to take matters into her own capable hands and shunted me out of the Facebook Page […]

  • Pingback:17 Ways To Beat That Devil – ‘Writer’s Block’ – Wandering Soul
    Posted at 11:40h, 24 May Reply

    […] Embrace the unwanted. Think about what makes you uncomfortable. Write about it or even about why it makes you uncomfortable. […]

  • Apeksha Solanki
    Posted at 20:26h, 10 September Reply

    Loveddd your description and your writing!!!!

Post A Comment