In Defense of Stephenie Meyer

I don't do book clubs.

I've been invited, but my standard response has always been a polite decline. My reasons are threefold.

1. I'm a painfully slow reader. When I find a book irresistible and read it in a few days, it's because I'm neglecting everything else (especially sleep), not because the pages are turning any faster.
2. I don't generally read the usual book club fare. I don't have any interest in the romance and scandal of chic lit. I have had ill-luck with self-help. I'm skeptical of characters who are supposed to be edgy, brave, and tortured when to me, they just seem like moody people who've made bad choices.
3. I can't take the pressure! Usually, I'm invited because someone found out I was an English Major, and they expect me to be all literary and academic. The dirty truth is that I find Hemingway incredibly dull and have never even read Jane Eyre.

So when Ari asked if I would join her book club, I of course said...


I was compelled. I was confused and surprised, but compelled to join this time. Perhaps I agreed because Ari has broadened my bookie horizons already. Or maybe Ari has powers over me that I'm not aware of.

I had no idea who would be in the group or what we would be reading. I had joined the group on compulsion, ignoring my usual (very validating!) reasons for avoiding book clubs. I should have been feeling anxious. But instead, I was feeling eager.

I sat in that first meeting feeling - yes, out of place - but excited. We were, after all, here to discuss one of my most very favoritest things in the whole world! We were invited to discuss our favorite books; and while discussions of the merits of Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult engaged around the room, I sat wondering how my repertoire of favorite YA novels would hold up.

Then someone mentioned Twilight, and the usual debate ensued:

I can't stand Bella Swan. It's like she has two modes: whiny obsessive psychopath, and boring.

Please. Edward Cullen can bite me any day.

When Bella's not going for a vampire, she's going for a werewolf! Unhealthy relationships, much?

Jacob was far better for her. Plus, he was mortal. She should have gone with Jacob.

No way! Edward all the way!

Have you seen how obsessed all these teenage girls are over the series? It's scary!

Yes - it makes me wonder about Meyer's own mental balance. She's got to be obsessive herself to have written the whole Bella/Edward mess.

"Actually," I ventured, "I think she's kind of brilliant."

(screetching halt sound effect)


"Okay," I said, repositioning myself in my seat. "Here's the thing." be continued...

(...because I ran out of time, not because I'm trying to be coy. Promise.)