I joined a book club about a year and a half ago and I’m not sure how I feel about it.
I really enjoy the people and their company. It is mostly women, but men come irregularly, too. (About 6 women and 4 men total.) We usually meet at just the one couple’s house, although I did host it at my house one time. We usually have very little snacks, maybe some coffee, tea, or wine. And we talk about the book however we want — no discussion questions or set themes or anything. We just read, meet, chat. A lot of times, we get off on big tangents. We are supposed to meet monthly, but sometimes life gets in the way.
As you can tell, we are pretty flexible. Everyone suggests books titles that we write on slips of paper and pick at random out of a bowl. We all generally agree on the book or else we pick a new title. Lately, we’ve been pulling an optional book to read as well. We pick books a month ahead of time so we actually have 2 months to read any given title, even though we meet monthly. (Still averages out to reading one book per month, but if something is a heavier read, we have some time to get our minds around it.)
Again, I really enjoy the people and their company and hanging out and talking. I enjoy talking about books and I enjoy talking about the other life subjects we inevitably get to while discussing literature and stories and history and current events.
The thing is… I don’t think I actually like the books. I really liked very few. I could stand others, but didn’t enjoy them. One was very readable, and I’m glad it opened my eyes to that subject, but I can’t say it was enjoyable to experience — more shocking, really. And others I just couldn’t get through.
Maybe book clubs help some people to read, by setting a date and being accountable and following through, no matter what. But I have no problem with reading. Maybe some people like the varied genres and authors they are exposed to in such an open book club, but mostly I just like reading what I like reading. Maybe some people like the intellectual stimulation and discussion and debate, and I like that, too, but that’s not why I read — I just like to read for fun.
So I guess I know how I feel about it. I like getting together to hang out with these people and I like talking about books, but I generally don’t like reading the books chosen for discussion. I want to stay in the group, but I’ve gotten less committed to reading the books if I’m not interested — and that makes me feel bad. I mean, no one has gotten in trouble for not reading a book, no one has gotten mad that they were one of the few people to have read a book, no one has seemed upset if everyone else vetoed a book title they wrote on a slip for the bowl. We are all understanding and forgiving and just want to get together and have a good time. We all still read, so we always have books to discuss. And, failing that, we talk about tv, ha.
I’ve been honest with myself about what I like to read, and I’ve been honest with the club about it, too. I always give the books a shot, so I have something to add to the conversation, even if it’s just why I didn’t like it or couldn’t finish it.
It’s a little stretch from my goals of reading slower — reading a little less and reading better for me. But I do think it’s worth it to open myself up to new stories and discussions, even for just a little while each month. I’m going to stick with the club. For now. We’ll see how crazy my life gets once there’s a third baby in the mix.