Color Me Surprised

The Racketeers have picked a top ten list of books for 2003 and The Observer‘s Stephanie Merritt notes that the list has only three women–Margaret Atwood, Monica Ali, and Donna Tartt. That only leaves two questions: Isn’t it a bit late to pick books for 2003? And who the heck are The Racketeers? Oh wait, it turns out they’re a group of men who meet in pubs to talk books. I’m tempted to add “and who specialize in satire.” Check this out.

[Racketeer member Huw Parker] believes there are clear distinctions between male and female groups. ‘My wife thinks we talk about things very differently, which is true, although we do a lot of the same authors, male and female. We’re quite combative and argumentative and not very consensual. I don’t want to stereotype, but that’s perhaps more of a male approach. There’s a competitive element about the way we vote for which book to read next. And in a retentive male way we hold an AGM and give a prize to one of the authors, which is quite an arrogant thing to do.’ He said many men still felt the idea of a reading group was at odds with masculine values. ‘Blokes think you have to be “touchy- feely” about a book and say “how I feel” about it. We don’t do that really. We talk about the way it’s written and the ideas.’

Anyway, the group is getting an Orange Prize for book clubs.