Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
After doing a couple of months of book club, I decided to jump in and host for the month of July. While this seemed intimidating, it was a really fun experience, and everyone was really helpful and encouraging. To start, I picked a list of books that I was interested in discussing for the group to vote from. I liked this method because it meant that the book was one I was comfortable leading a discussion on but I didn’t force the group into a book no one else was interested in. After the vote, I got started on reading the book and coming up with discussion questions; I looked at a group of questions to ask in the Discord chat and ones that would be good for the meeting at the end of the month.
Because the book we chose was something more people had read previously or at least heard of, it made the discussion really different. One issue was that I had heard that often people didn’t have good discussions because everyone just liked the book. This made me want to have questions that would make people think about their experience and what could be considered from the story. As the month went on, it was fun to see what everyone thought of the books and the moments they wanted to share and discuss. Some people also found that the book was just not for them and didn’t finish, something that I think is important to mention because not every book fits and it's okay to stop if you just aren’t enjoying it. About mid-month we started the chat discussion–I tried to ask questions that would be a bit thought-provoking but also a bit silly.
I first watched the film based on the book as a kid so I already knew the basic premise. To start, I listened to the audiobook, and I loved the experience. The story is written in very dry, silly British humor that does take some getting used to if you aren’t familiar with it. The start of the story with the juxtaposition of a home and a planet being destroyed to create bypasses, while seemingly simple, was well done. The main character was a stand-in for the audience and not much of a protagonist, as he takes very little action. He’s more an observer of what was happening to him. For me, the story was quick-paced and connected the storyline with jokes and silly characters. I enjoyed that while the story takes place in space, as it is such a versatile setting, it did not go into describing the technology, largely making the story seem less outdated and more universal. What surprised me and many of the group was that the book wasn’t obsolete or offensive to today's standards; I mean, more diversity of characters would be nice, but it was also a small cast. The ending of the book, while a bit abrupt and silly, was also still fun, and I think it makes you think about how we relate to life and the purpose of it and the pointlessness of trying to figure out what’s going on. If you are looking for an easy read, I’d recommend this book (but only if you like British humor) and particularly the audiobook, although the story exists in basically every medium if you want to try it out.
Finishing the book with a group watch of the movie was fun and silly and also allowed people who didn’t finish the book to see what the whole plot line was, more or less. Then moving on to the fun group discussion gave everyone a chance to talk about the book, clarify things they maybe didn’t understand, and, at least for me, have all of my silly questions answered–such as “What’s your ultimate question?” and “What’s the best non-drying use of a towel?”
Overall, hosting the book club was not as difficult as it had originally seemed. I had a lot of support, and leading the club allowed me to think of a lighthearted book more critically as I tried to find discussion-worthy topics from the narrative.
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