You know that old joke about giving a party and nobody comes? Well, for presenters, it’s a truism. I’ve given workshops w/ only one person (and she left early!).
Last night, however, was a new one, even for me. An audience of four — I’ve had smaller — all meeting to discuss a book. Four smart, funny, very nice folks, me, and a book. That NOT ONE of them liked. NOT. ONE.
At that point, you end up in a couple of places, depending on your training. You can panic (that hasn’t happened in a long time, thankfully!). Or you can draw on years of teaching a class no one takes for fun (writing ), and go w/ the flow.
Going with the flow is sooo much more fun.
So we talked about topics related to the book (which, since I actually like it — and its author — I won’t name), and we shared stories much like the book’s chapters did. We wrote a bit (in any presentation I have a hand in, we always write!). And it was fun, despite the book falling flat.
I love to read. And I love to learn. So a book that might bore someone else — or feel dated, out of sync w/ contemporary lit — may well still absorb me. I don’t think that’s a fault, either. But it can be, when you’re facilitating book talk, I assure you.
What? You didn’t like this book?? Are you NUTS?? What was wrong with it??
FAR too often, that’s the way my passionate nature leaps in to a conversation. Especially about deeply held beliefs, moral values. Sigh. So talking reasonably about books? It’s great practice for beginner’s heart.
I want to handle the more sensitive minefields of talking with people who support the death penalty, or colleagues who still think that school is only about student learning, not teacher teaching. There needs to be a way for me to do what I did last night: just let go of any pretense that the nice readers would ever come to like the book, and go from there.
So that’s my project, folks. Handle political and religious debates like a book club. It has to be better than yelling at each other!