Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book club disagrees on Pettigrew, but "best discussions develop out of disagreements"

Murfreesboro resident Michelle Palmer shared her personal response to Major Pettigrew's Last Stand in a previous article here on our blog. Now, pictured here at far left with the members of her Murfreesboro book club, she returns to talk about their differing opinions of the book:

In the time before there was written word, people told stories: cautionary tales, anecdotes about family history, and legends. People told stories to entertain, to educate, and just to pass the time. In the days before books, the oral tradition was an essential part of society, and as long as there have been stories to tell, there have been people eager to discuss them.

Jump ahead by thousands of years, and we have multimedia that our ancestors couldn’t imagine. One thing remains the same, though: the joy of sharing a good story. I have been a member of a book club of wonderful women for almost a decade, and I was eager to discuss Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand with them this winter.

The group was evenly split between those who did and did not enjoy Major Pettrigrew, and our discussion raised a lot of issues about what we, as individuals, look for in literature. It was surprising how divided our group was: several people felt it was boring, lacked direction and focus, and was not relevant to their lives. They were passionate about their dislike of Major Pettigrew, and were eager to defend their opinions. The rest of the group loved it, with many enjoying the details and minutiae so much that one person commented, “I wished Major Pettigrew could have continued on indefinitely, just so that I could read about the things happening in the Major’s daily life!”

It came down to a difference in what we want in a “good read” – a big, meaty plot, or a book that is character driven. Even though not everyone enjoyed Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, each person came away with something different from the experience of having read it. That’s what makes being part of a community of readers so wonderful.

One Book of Rutherford County serves a vital purpose. Its function is not just to get people reading, but talking about what they read – in essence, a community-wide book club. Like all book clubs, not everyone will love every book that the committee chooses – that’s simply not possible. But that’s what makes literature so interesting. Some of the best discussions develop out of disagreements, because we have a chance to learn about other people’s viewpoints and opinions.

How a person feels about a book is as unique to them as their own fingerprint. We bring our own history, insights, and emotions to each reading experience. A good book can challenge, provoke, and thrill. It can make you cry, laugh out loud, or sigh with contentment. It is my hope that readers will take the spirit of One Book of Rutherford County and carry it with them through the year, because the only thing better than reading a good book is the joy of sharing it.

Michelle Palmer is an avid reader and has been a member of a local book club for ten years. Having worked as a writer and editor since college, she recently began a book blog,, so that she could share her love of reading with others. Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand is included on her blog as one of her “Favorite Books of 2010.”

1 comment:

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