The First Tuesday Book Club

The first weekend of every month has me anticipating The First Tuesday Book Club.  It’s a basic simple format book review panel on the ABC.  I have an ambivalent and frustrating love for the program.  I suppose my true complaint is that most readers enjoy different books to those that I read.  In any case, my joy in watching a regular bookish program is frustrated at times by both the mainstream predictability of some of the reading choices.

My favourite part of the show was, once, when the panel members would summarise and introduce each book.  This has been thrown over for more distant and far less interesting summaries provided by voice-over, accompanied with terrible video footage that is just shy of being amusing.  I’m not sure if many people noticed the change, but I really loved the body language and reactions of the panel as the various panel members described their choices.  At least they still discuss their recent reads, and I may have a small amount of joy in that.

I have had many disagreements with the opinions given on books, and I felt frustrated last time when To Kill a Mockingbird was more gushed over than discussed (not that the book doesn’t deserve gushing, but I did feel that the water-polo scholarship team at high school managed a more in-depth analysis).  The trivia was a bit fun, but all too brief to substitute for real discussion.

I’m curious to hear about Indelible Ink and Catcher in the Rye this upcoming tuesday, but I can’t help but feel frustrated that only the most popular and mainstream ‘genre’ fiction tends to be represented.  Even with Jennifer Byrne Presents trying to skim over entry-level information about many genres, most books shown are either general Australian fiction, hugely well known and popular genre bestsellers, or nominated by a guest.  I suppose that the real truth of the matter is that people who tend to get their book news from television are the sort who like to buy popular and recognisable books.  Though I do get upset at the restricted scope of the show, I still get excited every week when I know it’s coming around.  At the very least, it helps keep me up to date with the books I wouldn’t usually expose myself to, and every now and then I feel compelled to seek one out.

If you haven’t checked it out before, you can find old episodes at TFTBC website.  Old episodes are also re-screened occasionally on the ABC, keep an eye out.  Jennifer Byrne Presents also has old episodes up, and screens on Tuesdays that aren’t the first in each month.


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