Saturday, October 11, 2014

Book Club: "The Giver"

I've always wanted to join a book club. It's probably that "literature major going to a liberal arts school" bone in my body that causes part of the urge to want to join one. So, in my latest blogpost about how I want to be living my life lately, one of those things was being more involved in the city I'm living in. Feeling more settled and that I live here, not just that I'm visiting for a prolonged amount of time. I decided before coming back to Beijing at the end of the summer, that I'd finally join a book club, something that I've been talking about doing for a few years now. A great way to motivate myself to read for pleasure, to meet new people, and to talk about and discuss good books (#nerdalert). 

Luckily for m, my friend Amanda, who also works in Beijing at another school, was also looking to join a book club and invited me to join some of her work friends at a monthly book club meeting at her school. There's the comfort of already knowing one person, but also the opportunity to meet many others. And we are all teachers, so we have that in common too which makes for great after book talk discussions with a glass of wine. 

This week we had our first meeting. Well actually the second meeting after reading our first book. I didn't attend the first meeting which is when they chose the first book we'd read: "The Giver." I was excited that they had chosen that book. Since the movie was released, it had been on "to read" book list. And now I had the push to do it. 

I first read this book when I was in the 8th grade. I remember when I read it then that I didn't understand it and therefore didn't really like it. Honestly, though I can't ACTUALLY remember, I probably didn't even finish the book because 13 year old me was so bored with it. Now, 25 year old me is laughing at the 13 year old me. But I totally get why I didn't understand nor like it at that age. It was too complex with too many underlying themes and meanings for me to really appreciate this award winning book.

So, point blank: I love this book. It's a short book. Only 180 pages. And while it deals with this "perfect" world with "perfect" people and the "perfect" solution to everything and anything, I found myself having so many different emotions in this little book. Happiness at the thought that the characters in this book don't have to experience pain and anguish and heartache. (Sidenote: I'm a big fan of a good feelings circle. Talking about your feelings, listening to others talk about their feelings, and then discussing what those feelings mean. I'm fluffy and sentimental like that). So, I loved the idea of how it is mandatory for the citizens of this "perfect" world to share their dreams that they had, to talk about how they were feeling at the dinner table, and they never questioned why they had to do so. It is just how their world is, so they do it.

But Jonas (the main character) is different then his family, friends, and neighbours. He questions why things are this way. He knows that the world must have been different at another time. And when he is appointed as the new Receiver, his questions start to be answered and he starts to learn that there is a whole lot more to life then the mundane and routine of his. And so begins his journey, where he receives memories of a time before, where he experiences love, pain, heartache, sadness, overwhelming joy and happiness. He knows things that others don't. And it's pleasure to read how he grows and how he deals with these new memories.

I highly recommend this book to everyone. It is a short read, but it is filled with so much depth and feeling. It was awesome discussing this book with others who love reading as well. We discussed the use of colour in the book, the idea of being released and what it meant, the way the book ended and how it made us feel, and our favourite memories that were described in the book.


Have you ever read "The Giver"? What did you think? What were some of the themes that resonated with you?

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