Tuesday, February 9, 2016

''What's your Cli-Fi Book Club reading in 2016?”

Cli-Fi Book Club:

''What's  your Cli-Fi Book Club reading?” you might say to a friend if you live in the Minneapolis area. For more on this new trend, which started in St. Croix and could very well branch out nationwide, from Manhattan to Nome, read this link:


By some estimates, five million Americans gather every few weeks in
someone’s living room or in a bar or bookstore or local library to
discuss cli-fi novels at newly-rising Cli-Fi Book Clubs.

The  most prevalent way of conducting a Cli-fi Book Club is still in
someone’s living room or library room. The basic ritual is the same all over: A small
group gets together every few weeks to discuss a pre-assigned title;
to eat, whether that means noshing on cheese and crackers accompanied
by a glass of wine or a nice dinner; and to gossip in a
dedicated way. It may be social, but it’s also serious; members devote
long hours over many weeks to getting to the last page. For most of
them, it’s all about the book.

Reading is a solitary act, an experience of interiority. To read a
book is to burst the confines of one’s consciousness and enter another
world. What happens when you read a book in the company of others? You
enter its world together but see it in your own way; and it’s through
sharing those differences of perception that the book group acquires
its emotional power.

“There’s a way of interacting through books that you don’t get through
any ordinary transaction in life,” suggests one reader. “It’s like sitting around gossiping
about people, only you’re gossiping about characters in fiction, which
is more meaningful.”

In cli-fi book clubs, things can get intense. “We had the most incredible
discussion of art, and beauty, climate change and loving something bigger than
ourselves,” says another reader.  Her  group often finds
itself grappling with “giant issues about climate change and the inner life.”

When they
read aloud a passage from Barbara Kingsolver's cli fi novel FLIGHT BEHAVIOR  “half the women in the group had tears in their eyes.” The men, too.

Members  come and go but the format
remains the same: “We take turns leading the discussion, and two members have to read a book before it can be adopted. Some do scholarly research, others are more informal. We have an easy flow of ideas.”

I heard about a cli-fi themed group that had been around for a long time.  Founded in
1971 by a group of Tufts graduates, it has been meeting once a
month ever since. The passage of the years has had
consequences. Then, the cli-fi term did not even exist.

The reading experience — let’s admit it — is less pure in the mature atmosphere of a Cli-fi Book Club  than it was in the intellectually heady
days of college. Diversions from the matter at hand are inevitable. When you have 10 lively people in a room and a good meal on the table, it’s sometimes hard to remember why you’re there. “It’s all about the
dinner,” says one member of a cli-fi

One Cli-fi Book Club group leader emailed her club members before their monthly meeting: “Please make sure to read the book! Even if you hate it and
have to choke it down, we’d love to hear about why you hated it.”

In the end, book groups are about community. The success of the Cli-fi Book Club initiatives in large cities and smaller towns
across the country, where everyone is encouraged to read cli-fi novels, reflects the longing to share and to face the reality of climate change.

And so a lot of us are reading “Flight Behavior.”

No comments: