Friday, October 23, 2009

Book Club: Report on Kite Runner Discussion

Wow! What a discussion we had last night! I was totally unprepared and was left speechless!

So. First of all let's remember, I love The Kite Runner. It's one of my all time favorite books. Second of all, let's also remember, I love it when people have strong opinions. It makes things fun, especially in book club. Book club is boring when we all come and say, "Yeah, that book was pretty good. I liked it fine."

It's fun if we all LOVE the book and find all kinds of things to rave and be passionate about.

But what's really interesting is if we have very decisive lines between those who LOVE it and those who HATE it! And that's what happened last night at our Kite Runner discussion.

My problem was, I was not ready for this scenario! It left me totally flustered! I'd never thought that there would be such emotion! And because of that, I didn't respond well as far as defending my point of view.... and why I love it so much. That was frustrating to me.

Basically, those that didn't like the book (can we say hated the book?) thought it was contrived, that there were too many coincidences, that it was too conveniently solved. They hated Amir, the main character, and thought he was weak, spineless and wimpy. They were bugged by the writing, by the events and by the story. They thought the author had an agenda and that it was all propaganda, and that he didn't portray Afghanistan fairly.

All stuff I didn't see or even think about. Which then makes me wonder, am I clueless? I think sometimes I am, but sometimes I just don't look for certain things and get totally wrapped up in a story and let my emotions take over.

It's an interesting thing to ponder, how we all react differently to a book. And even though I was very surprised by the the response, I thought it made for a wonderful book club experience.

So, those of you who have read The Kite Runner, where do you fall in the debate? Did you love it? Or did you hate it? Or do you fall in neither camp? I'm really curious to know now. Maybe I'm in the minority after all for loving the book?
And I'd love to know if you find your book clubs have differing opinions often, or are you usually thinking the same? And do you like it when these sorts of discussions happens, or does it make you a little nervous?

(If any of my book clubbers read this, and I know some of you do, don't be shy! Speak up and let the readers out there know how you perceived our discussion last night. )


  1. Interesting. I'll have to keep both sides in mind when I read this. I didn't feel like A Thousand Splendid Suns was contrived. I did, however, feel that way about A Bookseller in Kabul, and I hated that book with a passion. I'm very touchy about books in the middle east because I have family who live there, and I really don't like the way the culture is portrayed in the media in America. I suppose I figured this author, with his roots, would be less likely to do that. Hm...

  2. I actually agree with all the problems your book club has with the book, but I still loved it and it's still in my top ten! I'm able to see past the problems with the narrative because the emotions it brings out in me. Every time I've read this book, I've not just cried, but all out sobbed. You know, like when you have tears and other fluids dripping down your face and you can hardly breathe? That's how I get when I read this book. And that's why I love it. I don't care how contrived and coincidental a book is, if it can get me like through several readings, there must be something to it. The one thing I wouldn't be able to forgive however, would be poor writing, no matter how emotional it made me. (Although, I don't think it could grab me like that if the writing was poor.)
    P.S. It's been a long time since I've actually visited your site (usually I just use the reader) and I like the new look!

  3. I may be clueless, too because I didn't notice all those thing mentioned as flaws. I just loved it. Out and out loved it.

  4. You know, I was in between. I thought it was a very powerful book - like Lahni said, makes you cry like nothing else! But, I also didn't like a lot of what happened - just personal reactions and how depressing much of it was.

    I just started a book group, so I haven't dealt with this yet. But, I think having different opinions would make conversation more interesting. Mind you, I probably wouldn't be able to defend my opinion very well...

  5. I agree with you! It was a fantastic book! It has been a long time since I read it, so I don't remember the details, but I do remember the power of the story.

    I agree that the writing wasn't the best, but the emotion of the book is more important to me. It all depends on why you read - I read to discover amazing stories and to be moved by the characters and emotion of a book. I'm sorry you weren't prepared for the debate, but hope you enjoyed the meeting anyway.

  6. So happy this made for lots od discussion and debate win. I want to read this again as it evoked so much emotion the first time. (That is what is important to me in a book).

  7. I loved the book. I even made a monetary donation to the author's charity, helping Afganistany women and children. I loved his second book, 1000 Splendid Suns, even more though.

    The Kite Runner reminded me of Huckleberry Finn in so many ways. Only the protagonist did not choose to go against society (unlike Hucleberry) and do the right thing.

  8. I did feel like some parts of the plot were really contrived, and overly dramatic (and violent). For that I didn't like it. But it was still a very powerful book. I couldn't stop thinking about it afterward!

  9. Hey there! I really enjoyed the discussion! I have to tell you, if I had been hosting and/or moderating the event that I would've fainted mentally when T brought out a handwritten list of points...sure, I sometimes find myself wishing I could have a cheat sheet from which I could defend a position on a book because inevitably when I return home I remember something I wish I had said. (Run-ons, anyone?) Regardless, I think you did an exceptional job! I still believe that the author provided a skewed portrayal of life in Aghanistan...but then I'm an american and can't be expected to understand. Despite the flaws that we discussed at f2f, I stand behind my five star rating for the sheer power of the entire package. Good pick, btw!

  10. I was a bit flustered too at the meeting. I really enjoyed the book. It had some problems, admittedly, but it was a beautiful book.

    When I got home from the meeting, I discussed the reactions with my mom and her husband who have both read the book. One thing my mom pointed out was that she thought the characters were simplistic because Amir was our narrator and much of the story happened when he was just a child.

    I'm going to have to prepare more vigilantly for our future discussions, but I love that! I really enjoyed hearing the opinions of those that "hated" the book.

    And, Suey, I loved the naan and the multi-media aspect. I can't wait for our discussion of The Hunger Games books.

  11. My club had some divergent opinions on this book too. I can’t remember the discussion (it was a few years ago now) but our ratings ranged from 7s to 10s so most of us must have liked it to some extent. I agree that a divisive book can make for the very best of discussion though, provided that everyone is kind and considerate in their remarks. :)



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