Is there anything that can destroy the fun of reading more than a book club? I don’t know about you, but nothing makes me want to read a book less than if I feel like it’s been assigned to me. I mean, for me, being a writer is already sort of like being a full-time student in that I am constantly doing work at home at crazy hours and I subsist pretty much on caffeine and potato chips and other things that are undeniably bad for me. It’s unhealthy, it really is. But so, book clubs. Book clubs only add to the feeling that I have never really advanced past the point in my life when I was taking a colloquium on American Modernist Literature and would purposely take the opposite point of view of whatever this one really annoying girl in my class thought about whatever book we were reading no matter what I actually thought of the book itself. Book clubs are just like that. I find it impossible not to be totally contrarian and rip apart other people’s readings of, like, The Secret History or The Emperor’s Children or other similarly beloved but terrible books. I kind of ruin everything.
But maybe the problem isn’t me. Haha, just kidding. The problem is usually me. But also, maybe the problem is just the nature of the book clubs that I attend. Maybe I need something a little less conventional when it comes to book clubs. Maybe I need something like Brooklyn’s nudie book club, which is called, appropriately, the Topless Pulp Fiction Club, to shake things up a bit. Or, you know, maybe not. When it comes down to it, I don’t think I’m really the topless book club type. But I totally approve of its existence because it’s sort of reignited my interest in the process of choosing books to read while in a book club. The Daily News reports that the Topless Pulp Fiction Book Club (pictures at the link are maybe mildly NSFW) mostly reads pulp fiction, hence the name, but has also been known to dive into “Steinbeck and Faulkner, ‘The Hunger Games’ and Anais Nin, ‘Lolita’ and ‘House of Leaves.’” Which, these are all good choices, but I think there are even better choices for a topless book club. I mean, I love As I Lay Dying as much as James Franco probably does, but there’s something not quite appropriate about reading and discussing the sentence “My mother is a fish,” while lying topless in the grass in Prospect Park, skin gleaming in the sun like so many, well, fish scales. Anyway, if I were to join a topless book club, here are the 5 books that I would want to discuss, while topless.