Have you ever been a member of a book club? How did your group choose (or, if you haven’t been, what do you think is the best way to choose) the next book and who would lead discussion?
Do you feel more or less likely to appreciate books if you are obliged to read them for book groups rather than choosing them of your own free will? Does knowing they are going to be read as part of a group affect the reading experience?
I love the idea of book clubs, much as I love the idea of getting up every morning at 6 am and working out at the health club, or the idea of putting aside 10% of my income in a retirement savings plan. Book clubs sound appealing, and sensible, and something so very bookish to do – yet I somehow can’t make myself participate.
Lots of my friends are in book clubs, so I’m asked to join on a regular basis – that’s after I’ve heard them complain about the books their club has chosen to read, or that one member who insists on monopolizing the discussion. “Thanks so much for asking me,” I reply in my sweetest voice, “but I’m so very busy just now I’m afraid I could never do justice to the group.”
My friend Lynda has been in the same book club since her college days, which were more than 30 years ago. Certainly some of the members have come and gone, but there is a core group of three or four who were schoolmates and have managed to keep the club going. Their plan for choosing books is this: each spring, every member submits two books they feel are worthy of the club’s time. A master list is compiled, and a vote taken, ultimately choosing the 12 books the club will read over the course of the year. I don’t believe they have a designated leader – they’ve been together so long, they likely don’t need one.
Another friend belongs to a library book club, and they choose their books in much the same way. If a book you’ve submitted is chosen, then you become the discussion leader. In their group, the discussion leader is also to prepare a short talk about the book prior to beginning the discussion. (That sounds quite intimidating to me!)
And then there’s my friend Debbie’s club. If I were to belong to a book club, I might belong to this one. They meet once each month at a local restaurant, enjoy a good meal, and “talk about the books they’ve been reading.” Everyone brings their favorite “read” of the month to share. And while I’ve never been to one of these “meetings,” I’m willing to bet the conversation isn’t all bookish. <smiles>
Those of us who blog about books have our own version of the book club, don’t we? With the challenges, and group blogs, and Sunday Salon, I believe I’ve finally found the book club that suits me to a tee.