My Book Club Curse

My Book Club Curse by Nina BadzinI’ve always pictured myself in a book club, but I have a book club curse.

My initial desire started young when I observed my mom’s relationship with her book club. My mom and the other members weren’t close friends or even neighbors in most cases. They were women brought together through a shared love of reading. I remember her rushing to finish a book days before the club’s next meeting because she wouldn’t dream of showing up unprepared. And she never wanted to miss a meeting. The only choice was to do her part: read the book and participate in the discussion. It’s a formula that’s worked for her group since it started in the 70s, and they’re still going strong though members have come and gone over the years.

My mom’s club’s formula (read the book + discuss it) was the one I had in mind when I started my first book club in the summer of 2000. I was twenty-three and had recently moved to Minneapolis where I knew my husband’s (then fiance’s) family and not another soul. I think I had this naively constructed fantasy of young almost-married life, which in my mind had to include a book club. Aside from the model of my mom’s book club in the back of my mind, I also had Oprah. You have to remember that the summer of 2000 was the heyday of Oprah’s book club. People were reading the same books all over the country, discussing them in cozy groups while sipping wine in well-designed living rooms. I wanted in! More than anything though, I wanted to make friends.

I invited the few people I’d met when I first moved to town, and they invited others they knew. I designed it so whoever was hosting the next meeting also picked the book we’d discuss. I remember not loving some of the choices, but like my mother, I always finished so I could participate intelligently in our discussions. My frustration when others didn’t finish or when we didn’t really discuss the book at all was palpable. Let’s just say I wasn’t exactly the most popular woman in the group and instead of making friends, I made people mad. Eventually I quit.

Fast forward a few years. A friend of mine invited me into a book club with some women she’d known in high school. Again I imagined those cozy living rooms from Oprah and said yes. This book club didn’t work out for me either.  Sometimes people didn’t finish the book, and when that was the case, those of us who actually read the book weren’t supposed to “ruin” the ending. Well, when I accidentally broke that rule, the group’s unofficial leader sent a scathing email to the entire group (although it was clearly meant just for me) reminding us how “unfair” it was to spoil the ending for others. Needless to say, I left that group immediately.

Since then I’ve been invited into other groups, but I’ve said no every time. In a smaller community like Minneapolis, I simply can’t afford to make any more “book club enemies.” However, a group exists in my neighborhood with women of all ages. The two women I know in the group promise me it’s a serious book club. So now I’m turning the idea over to my blog readers. Should I try it?

Those of you in book clubs you love, are my expectations for a book club too high? Am I the problem here? It’s certainly a good possibility!

(Photo credit from Glencoe Public Library via Flickr)

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Nina is a contributing writer at Brain, Child: The Magazine for Thinking Mothers, Tcjewfolk.com, and at Kveller.com. She's also a freelance writer with articles in several magazines, anthologies, and websites. Her short stories have appeared in over a dozen literary magazines. She was thrilled to participate in the 2013 cast of Listen to Your Mother, and she enjoys co-leading the book review site GreatNewBooks.org. Nina lives in Minneapolis with her husband and four children.

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69 Responses to My Book Club Curse
  1. Anne Greenwood Brown
    April 20, 2011 | 4:46 pm

    I had the exact same experience. I think maybe it’s the English major background in us? To me it’s a logical sequence: you read the book, you discuss it, you debate key points…you move on.

    My experience was that 75% of the members didn’t read the book and 100% of the members didn’t want to talk about it, except to say “wasn’t that such a good book!” Bleh.
    Basically it was a wine and cheese party. Which I don’t have anything against, but call it what it is. Leave the books out of it. I’ll read on my own.

    Rant over.

  2. Lisa Kilian
    April 20, 2011 | 4:48 pm

    Ha! Totally know how you feel.

    Take the leap, I say. If your friends know your history, they should know what they’re getting themselves into.

    If I could join a serious book club, I’d be in it in a New York minute. :)

  3. Jael
    April 20, 2011 | 4:52 pm

    There’s definitely a book club out there for you! Don’t give up! Every book club I’ve been in, the people who didn’t get the whole book read before the meeting understood they were forfeiting their right to spoiler protection. I am an always-finisher myself but sometimes things come up, and I generally cut people slack on that.

    You can always start your own book club, too — talk to people about your rules/preferences/guidelines up front and see where they fall on the spectrum. How does the book get decided? Who hosts? Food or no food, wine or no wine? How do new members get invited? There are lots of different decisions, and I think a lot of people assume their way is the only logical way!

    But a good book club is a thing of beauty, so it’s worth trying again, in my opinion.

  4. Liana Brooks
    April 20, 2011 | 4:53 pm

    I’ve been invited to two book clubs. One I didn’t want to join because of the militant (anti) religious tone that had a reputation for making even agnostics cry. The other was a militant suburban mom group bent on reading every NYT bestseller listed in the Weeping Slow Books genre. It wasn’t considered a good book unless you spent the entire thing sobbing.

    I never joined either.

    I have an online critique group where I meet crit partners and exchange reading suggestions. We talk about books we love (and hate). And I use Twitter to get reading ideas, meet authors, and hunt down fans of the books I love.

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 8:45 pm

      I get all my book choices from Twitter too! Sorry the other groups didn’t work for you.

  5. Cym
    April 20, 2011 | 4:59 pm

    I haven’t been in a book club since the one we were in together in the summer of 2000! I think I went to one other one just once and that was it! I’m not a good book club participant because I have to read at my own pace and you know I have like 2 authors that I actually like to read- in addition to you- and that’s it. But at least we are one lasting friendship from your first book club! I’d say try the new one, can’t hurt, right? Maybe you’ll even love it! And perhaps lower your expectations and maybe you’ll be happier with it too. xox

  6. S.P. Bowers
    April 20, 2011 | 5:05 pm

    I say go for it. If they know your past and still tell you they think it will work it’s worth a try. If you’re disappointed after a couple meetings you can gracefully bow out. Good luck.

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 8:47 pm

      I think I’m going to go for it, starting in June!

  7. Melissa Crytzer Fry
    April 20, 2011 | 5:16 pm

    We’re quite alike, Nina. I would be unhappy with the non-fiinishers, too. But I’ve never BEEN in a book club, sadly. Now that I am in my writing-reading zone, I live far, far away from anyone, so there will STILL be no book club. I’ll have to live vicariously through others. I think book clubs could be great fun. I like Jael’s idea of starting your own, with your OWN rules/expectations! Or maybe just try this group and if you feel it’s not the right fit after the first meeting, gracefully bow out before any relationships can be put in jeopardy.

  8. Julia
    April 20, 2011 | 5:19 pm

    I have joined three book groups, each time with high hopes — but it’s never worked out. Either no one read the book and it’s an excuse for a party or, worse, one or more members went on a time-consuming rant about something I considered insignificant (real examples: when/where did characters go to the bathroom or why they hated the protagonist’s first name or why we didn’t pick a different book!). In theory, I love the idea, but in reality it hasn’t worked out…

  9. Natalia Sylvester
    April 20, 2011 | 5:25 pm

    Oh no! I’ve never been in a book club, but have been giving it a lot of thought lately. I think I’d be pretty upset to show up having read the book only to see no one finished, or there really isn’t much discussion going on. I guess I’ll have to be kind of picky, seeing as how a lot of people seem to share in these disappointing experiences.

    But if this person says she has a “serious” book club, why not give it a shot? Explain to her your hesitation and if she still thinks her club would work for you, I think it’s worth checking out.

  10. Women's Fiction Writer
    April 20, 2011 | 5:31 pm

    I wish I could join your book club. I’m in a community of readers and can’t get anyone to commit. I’ve tried. And like you – when I did – either people didn’t read the book or just wanted to talk about it briefly and then move on.

    I think I’d like a book club full of writers. I don’t care about wine or snacks or getting into a fancy outfit. What I’d love to do is talk about books. Sometimes it happens spontaneously at other events or gatherings. When it does, I grab it.

  11. Ashley Graham
    April 20, 2011 | 5:39 pm

    Nina, I’d be the same way. I mean, what’s the point of having a book club if no one wants to take it seriously? I agree with Amy. Writers might take it more seriously than non-writers. We tend to value the written word and reading a little more than most. There’s no one around me (including my friends) who would be interested in a book club, but whenever I see them on TV, I think how cool it’d be to be part of one. Are there many virtual book clubs out there? I’d definitely join one of those (if I were interested in the genres presented). I say go for it if you can handle being frustrated every now and then (again)!

  12. Jane Pirtle
    April 20, 2011 | 5:43 pm

    Hello, you have an open invitation into your ideal book club!! The best part is it is in your neighborhood. It actually sounds a lot like your mom’s club. Women who meet because we like to read and talk about the book. Very rarely does someone not finish the book, however, you would never be in trouble for spoiling the ending for another. It’s her fault for not reading fast enough!

    This is my third book club since moving back to Minneapolis and probably my favorite. The first one was more about socializing and actually so was the second. What I like about this is I wouldn’t necessarily be friends with some of the women in the group. We come from different generations, religions and political leanings which makes for interesting dicussions.

    I will see you there in June!!

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 8:51 pm

      Thanks Jane! I’m going to give it a try in June. Make sure I know the book and date. :)

  13. bubbe
    April 20, 2011 | 6:24 pm

    How can you discuss a book without knowing the ending?

  14. Barbara Forte Abate
    April 20, 2011 | 6:27 pm

    I think maybe the biggest problem with book clubs that turn out to be stinkers is that they weren’t really book clubs to begin with. There’s certainly wonderful things to be said about book-clubs as social gatherings (the requirement being that everyone has a “book prop,” on the chance you maybe get around to discussing the book!). It just happens to stink if you really do want to be part of a “reading” club and not just an evening coffee clatch. I would definitely try out this newest offering, Nina. Maybe “third times a charm” isn’t just a cliche. Maybe there’s something to it and this one will be the real deal!

  15. Anne R. Allen
    April 20, 2011 | 6:53 pm

    Groups dynamics are so unpredictable. Critique groups are similar. Some can be completely toxic. It usually has to do with one or two bullies who make everything about them.

    I’ve never been in a book group, but I’ve visited a number and some are havens of intellectual stimulation and some are drunken whine-fests. But I’ve never heard of one where the people who DIDN’T read the book could tyrannize the discussion. You’re well away from them.

    Some of the best groups I’ve visited were sponsored through another organization like Friends of the Library or AAUW.

    But I’d try this one. I visited some pretty awful critique groups before I found the right fit. Book groups have to be the same way.

  16. Jenn
    April 20, 2011 | 8:06 pm

    I’m sorry for your bookclub bad luck. I’m currently in a bookclub started through my library. It’s books that have been made into films. We read the book, meet to watch the movie, then meet the following week to discuss and get the next book.

    Not every member reads every book, but it’s pretty much a given that if you haven’t finished the book, but you show up to watch the movie, you’re taking ruination into your own hands.

    I think you should take another chance with this book club. If it doesn’t work out, I agree with some of the other comments that you should consider starting your own bookclub where you can lay down criteria for what’s important to you. That way you can find like minded book lovers to join with you.

    Good luck!
    Jenn

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 8:54 pm

      What a cool idea with the books made into movies and watching the movies too. Love it!

  17. ramblingsfromtheleft
    April 20, 2011 | 8:14 pm

    Group dynamics on the whole are a pain in the tush. You can’t get more than two women in a room for longer than ten minutes without someone wanting to take center stage.

    We did a hit or miss with some negative folks with one group. Then my BETA reader put a group together who actually behave like adults and discuss the book and not themselves all afternoon. We still have our moments when someone tries to hyjack the discussion, but the BETA reader is a strong Alpha and after a few polite moments, she pulls everyone back into the discussion of the book.

    Like critique groups, book clubs or charitable organizaitons, church committees, Lord help us … Co-op and Condo boards of directors … there is always the human fly in the ointment. If you find the majority of your readers are serious and grown up … try again.

    I think book clubs are great for writers and you shouldn’t let the most common of human flaws keep you from enjoying them. If you get a good alpha leader who can occasionally swat the damn fly … you’ll have a great time :)

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 8:56 pm

      I think you’re so right about the importance of someone emerging as the leader to keep things on topic. I think the key to my mom’s group was and still is their hired leader.

  18. Jess Witkins
    April 20, 2011 | 9:15 pm

    Give it a shot! You’re bound to get great conversation from it! Either way, I want to hear about it!

  19. Galit Breen
    April 20, 2011 | 11:12 pm

    Nina, I loved this post! I’m also a serious book clubb-er and have seen groups come and go because the “goals” or expectations didn’t match up.

    But I adore my Book Club right now and get so much out of it. I’m so glad that I gave it a chance so I say go for it! See if you can rev up their seriousness even one more notch! :)

  20. Barbara
    April 21, 2011 | 6:08 am

    I don’t do book clubs for the opposite reason. I’m the one that typically doesn’t finish the books and think it is unfair of me to go while I don’t have a lot to contribute. I think it’s unfair that you are the one with the book club enemies as opposed to the other way around. Good luck either way.

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 8:58 pm

      Thank you! I think it’s unfair too especially in the case of the first group since I started it. ;)

  21. Amanda Hoving
    April 21, 2011 | 7:45 am

    This one sounds like it might be more your style, so maybe you should give it a try. I started my own book club about four years ago with people that I knew to be book-lovers — some were just acquaintances from school. Those that weren’t really in it for the dicussion eventually stopped coming when they saw we had a purpose (though there is wine and cheese and laughter AFTER the book talk!), and sometimes that month’s host will invite a guest who eventually becomes a member of the group. Like Anne said, the dynamics are unpredictable, but I think it keeps things interesting.

  22. Julie
    April 21, 2011 | 12:09 pm

    Wow. I recently started a book club for 4th grade girls – the 1st 2 meetings were great as everyone read the book. Last meeting was a little shakey as only 2 of the 4 read the book. My daugher (the hostess) was upset. We turned it into a learning experience: you can’t control other people, etc. The problem occurred when I was planning the next meeting and wrote, “Please read the book before the meeting”. Holy cow! One parent is seriously upset. I guess it is a learning experience for all of us.

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 9:01 pm

      Oy! So you know what it is like to make book club enemies! Whenever I said anything about finishing the book I definitely made myself more and more unlike-able. Hard to win… :(

  23. Susanna
    April 21, 2011 | 12:23 pm

    I have had several opportunities to be in a book club, (I attended as a guest) but I realized right away that it would take just the right group with the right dynamics for me to really fit in and enjoy the experience. Last year, a select group of like-minded friends of mine created a book club collectively. It is has been a great success for us as there is only occasionally food and drink the rest of the time the food is the content of the book. It has worked out marvelously! Of course there is deep respect for each other so there aren’t the usual petty issues. Don’t give up. I say try again and again until you find a perfect fit.

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 9:02 pm

      That sounds like such a nice group! I am going to try this new one. It sounds like it takes a long time to find the right fit.

    • Julie
      April 25, 2011 | 8:34 am

      You give me great hope!

  24. julie gardner
    April 21, 2011 | 1:18 pm

    My book club drives me crazy. Only half the women finish the book and everyone is more focused on the wine selection (although no one cares if we “ruin the ending” or I would for sure not go.)

    Still. My book club is a group of teachers who are friends of mine. I don’t feel comfortable enough to walk away from it.

    I do know of other book clubs in my area that are more serious (everyone reads, the hostess researches the topic, they have actual discussions of theme and characterization etc.)

    I would love to be a part of that.

    But I can barely manage the one. And the wine.

    So I say don’t give up…

    Happy reading!

  25. Kathy Sackheim
    April 21, 2011 | 2:47 pm

    Well Nina, Needless to say-as your mother I really loved your post, and of course, I have a few comments.

    We always had a leader whom we paid. It was Rachel Jacobsohn-who wrote a book about book clubs a few years ago-organizing, leading them etc.

    For me the purpose of the book club was to read books that had literary importance-that I never would have read otherwise. Sometimes we did classics too. Rachel always picked the books.

    I have a few memorable tales about the book club, which I joined in the 1970′s. First, I made your grandmother read a 500 page feminist book before she came to visit so she could be a guest at our book club. She was a good sport and did it.

    Second, Rachel had us read a novella by Gertrude Stein with no punctuation and not a capital letter in the whole thing. That was really painful, and the group was not happy.

    Third, one year-maybe 20 years ago-she assigned Dune- by
    Frank Herbert. That is a science fiction book with a glossary at the back because the author created an entire new language for his mythical planet. I actually loved the book. The group screamed bloody murder and Rachel changed the book for that month-one of the only times I remember her actually doing that. Well I talked about this story with your Dad-and he purchased book six in the series while he was on a business trip. So-not only did I read a book we didn’t discuss in the book club-but had to read #’s 2,3,4, 5 and then 6-the gift.

    So-all is all-my book club has been part of my life. Hope you find one that satisfies you and provides the growth experience that good literature can be.

    Love, Mom

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 9:04 pm

      Mom! I tweeted the link to your comment and everyone loves your two cents. We still need to think of a guest post topic for you.

  26. Tanya
    April 21, 2011 | 2:59 pm

    Ummm if you didn’t finish the book, that’s your own fault – you spoiled the ending yourself. If you don’t want to know the ending don’t go to the meeting. How are you supposed to “discuss” the book if you have to remember where everyone else is in the story?! That would infuriate me.

    I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to join a book club. I don’t know how to go about it. I have the same visions of a book club as you do but I’ve never done anything to make it happen…

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 9:38 pm

      You would have to be very clear about the expectations up front. I thought I was the first time around but maybe not enough.

  27. Cat
    April 21, 2011 | 3:40 pm

    I’ve been blessed with the book clubs I’ve been in. Yes, we have our non-finishers and the “mostly there for the wine and cheese” types but overall it’s been a valuable experience. While I see the merit of a writers only book club I have also enjoyed learning what excites readers, what they want to see more off, less of, etc. In fact, the kernel for my first novel was formed during a book club discussion.

    I say give it another shot, you might just find the magic mix that works for you.

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 9:44 pm

      I think you’re right about the value of being in a group with other readers and not just writers. Keeping everything about writers can get much too narrow focused.

  28. RedBootPearl
    April 21, 2011 | 9:12 pm

    I’ve only tried one book club, my problem was that I’m a really picky reader, I don’t like wasting time on something I think is hideously boring… and I too think it’s silly to not finish the book if you’re going to go discuss it. Isn’t that the point of book club? So that’s why I stopped going, I didn’t want to finish most of the books, let alone pick ‘em up in the first place, they just weren’t my style.

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 9:47 pm

      I think I’m going to try this new one. Maybe a better one will come along for you eventually. Thanks for visiting!

  29. Alexandra
    April 22, 2011 | 9:40 am

    Oh, what a PERFECT post.

    I thought it was just me.

    I have tried 4 book clubs in my adult life.

    FOUR.

    Each one, there was a vicious attacker if you disagreed with her POV, on the main character.

    Seriously, anger issues over a difference of a matter of opinion on what motivates a main character.

    No, thank you.

    How others in the group tolerate it, I don’t’ understand: I often wondered, were they that desperate for a night out??

    Excellent post.

    Thank you

    P.S. I love posts that are about the real deal of life. This one was great.

  30. John J.
    April 22, 2011 | 9:48 am

    Nina — have you ever gone to Books and Bars? There’s always a good group of people there to discuss who’ve actually read the book. It’s usually a bigger group, but Jeff K. does a great job of moderating and making sure everyone gets heard. Next Tuesday is Peter Bognanni’s book House of Tomorrow (also Peter will be on hand to discuss) and the following month is Egan’s Goon Squad. Might be worth a try.

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 9:13 pm

      That is so cool! I’ll look into it. Thanks for reading and commenting, John. Such an honor!

  31. V.V. Denman
    April 22, 2011 | 9:59 am

    I’ve never been in a book club, so I’m not an authority on the subject. It’s always sounded fun to me, but I wouldn’t like “having” to read books that didn’t fit. There are so many books . . . so little time. I don’t want to spend precious hours reading a book that I don’t find interesting. But for the books that I do enjoy reading, I would LOVE to have friends to discuss them with.

    Not much help, am I?

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 9:20 pm

      I hear you on too many books out there and not enough time to read the ones you’re really interested in. That’s why I’d go bananas when I’d read a book someone else picked and then we didn’t talk about it!

  32. Jen Erickson
    April 22, 2011 | 3:44 pm

    The Lit Wits started with a hope that I could find people who love to read as much as I do. I was secretly wishing they also loved to laugh and drink caffeine. The book club I began two months ago has been incredibly fun, and refreshing. Our numbers are small and I am learning how to be more effective with each meeting. I think the key to success is to have one leader for each book discussion. I started a Facebook page for our book club that has links to the author’s book discussion questions for their books. I also post links to the author’s Facebook page and blog. Having the discussion questions before you arrive helps the members who like to have a plan. There have been people who show up and haven’t read the whole book, but they still contribute and no one has complained. We meet at a coffeehouse called “Mugs” every 2nd Wednesday at 7 pm. We decide our next month’s book that night at the meeting. Our second meeting was more organized than the first.

    A good book club is like the circus. You take your seat and are part of the show, you share the oooohs and ahhhs and marvel at the talent. You laugh, you wonder, and thank the ringleader for helping you leap through the burning hoops called life to get you to book club in the first place and put a story in your hands. Crack the whip or eat the peanuts, but be a participant. Life’s too short to stand outside the Big Top looking in Nina! :) Best of luck!

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 9:23 pm

      I love it, Jen! Of course I’m not surprised that you, the best book fan of all, would help organize a stellar book club. I just finished The Bird Sisters by the way. Started on Friday and finished Saturday. Fantastic read! I can’t stop thinking about Milly and you know who. (Don’t want to ruin it!)

  33. Julie Nilson
    April 22, 2011 | 4:39 pm

    I’ve never been in a book club so I can’t speak to that, but you were right about quitting the club where people didn’t finish and then didn’t want anyone to discuss the ending. How can you have an in-depth discussion without talking about the ending. Argh.

    (It reminds me of a writing workshop I took last year, when we were talking about unreliable narrators. I asked a question about unreliable narrators who the reader doesn’t know is unreliable, and when the group leader asked for an example, I mentioned The Life of Pi. A woman near me loudly huffed, “Spoiler!” Lady, the book came out more than 11 years ago–if it was that important to you, you should have gotten around to it in the last decade or so.)

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 9:25 pm

      Ha! Julie that’s so funny! I agree–Life of Pi is up for grabs by now. ;)

  34. Kate Ledger
    April 22, 2011 | 4:45 pm

    Don’t give up! I’ve visited many book clubs in the Twin Cities area, and across the country by Skype, to talk about my novel, Remedies. (Shameless plug–I love visiting book clubs.) I’ve discovered that the groups are so varied–and they all seem to have their own merits. Some have been very analytical and others very chatty. Some have been very rigid with schedules and protocols and others seem to wing it month to month. It’s been fascinating for me, as an author, to see the same book mulled over in many different lights with many varied comments and unique personal reactions. I feel I’ve learned a lot, too–details that have helped my writing and also have contributed to my sense of human nature. I think you should keep searching–just as you’d search for the right playgroup for your kids, one with like-minded parents, and hopefully, few biters (among the toddlers). Eventually you’ll find a good fit.

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 9:28 pm

      Such a great perspective, Kate. Thanks for sharing. It’s so nice to hear from an author’s point of view.

  35. Scary Mommy
    April 22, 2011 | 8:13 pm

    This made me laugh. I’m the person who asks if she can join the club without reading the book. :)

  36. Judy Meyerson
    April 22, 2011 | 8:38 pm

    Nina,
    Great post!
    How lucky you are that your mom introduced you to the concept of book clubs and intellectual discussions and all.
    I joined my first book club last summer. The leader is also in another book club and is very good at rallying the troops. We discussed in our first meeting what we wanted from the club and that we should probably stay away from religion, politics, or anything else that could cause harm to relationships since we live in the same community. We also decided, through the wisdom of our leader, that the first hour is devoted to the book discussion. Period. After that, if anyone wants to chat, whatever, then go for it.
    I was slightly reluctant because I like to read at my own pace and choose my books, but in actuality, I have discovered some authors whom I probably wouldn’t have read otherwise. (I’ve even liked some of them!) Our group is small, but still most of the time many have not read the book. I think there’s an unspoken rule that no one can get upset over spoiled endings if they haven’t followed rules to read the book. So far I’ve read all the books (guilt? responsibility?), but there may be a time when I don’t, and I will have lost my rights to complain.
    Overall, it has been an enriching experience. I hope you can find one, also. Maybe you are more sensitive to the issue because you are a writer, but I think it’s finding the right group, too, that matters.
    Happy hunting and happy reading!
    Judy

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 9:31 pm

      Judy! Thanks so much for commenting! I think the key is a strong leader and I love the idea of an hour to stay focused and then time to kibbitz. That’s perfect!

  37. Susan Ujka Larson
    April 23, 2011 | 10:02 am

    Great post. By the number of comments you’ve received, you can tell you’ve hit a nerve. Join a book club, read the book. In today’s Washington Post there is an article about The New Yorker book club for those who can’t/don’t finish books. I’d like to join this club just for the opportunity to discuss what I read in The New Yorker! I wonder, though, if some would come without having read? http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/the-new-yorker-group-a-book-club-for-the-on-the-go-washingtonian/2011/03/03/AFsq2nOE_story.html

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 9:33 pm

      Thanks for letting me know about the WSJ article! I’ll check it out…and yes, I think people will join without finishing the issue. ;)

  38. Jack@TheJackB
    April 23, 2011 | 6:51 pm

    I love to read and spend as much time as I can doing so but I don’t think that I would join a book club. In part it is because my view of them is colored by the stories that I have heard about them.

    I don’t think that I had ever thought about it until now, but I realize that I have sort of a chauvinist view of them as a place where women go to fight with each other. My apologies if that sounds obnoxious but the stories that I have heard as son/brother/husband have usually supported that perspective.

    I am sure that not all are like that and that the majority are quite enjoyable.

    BTW, I loved the entire Dune series- good stuff. And for what it is worth I am re-reading Game of Thrones and all of the books in that series. Martin is a very fine writer.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post, I appreciate it.

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 9:35 pm

      Jack- yikes! My groups were never like that. It was more quiet really…when half haven’t finished it becomes an awkward conversation. But no cat fights—at least not TO MY FACE. ;)

  39. Stephanie Alexander
    April 23, 2011 | 10:14 pm

    Oh, I feel your pain. Especially since I’m the only writer in my book club. No one else cares about prose and point of view. I’d love to pick more provocative reads, but no one else is feeling me. The rest of the crew likes NF, and while I’m glad the book club forces me out of my fiction comfort zone, my reading time is so limited. I want to read stuff I LIKE. Ugh.

    I’m sorry to be commiserating, and not offering helpful advice! I think I would cheat on my book club if the opportunity arose. It might be time to start seeing other people!

    • Nina Badzin
      April 24, 2011 | 9:36 pm

      Ha! I do know people in more than one club. It would be hard to keep up though.

  40. Hallie Sawyer
    April 25, 2011 | 10:03 am

    What a comment-provoking post! Great to know you aren’t along, huh? My book club started a few years ago because of a mutual love of reading. However, over time, myself and another member-who is a voracious reader-are feeling disappointed. One member travels a lot with work and she only listens to books. (Personally, I feel it’s cheating but I guess it’s better than nothing.) Conversation quickly turns to non-book related topics and if I try to veer it back to the book, it seems awkward and like I am stepping on the host’s toes. We are all friends, not super close but closer than acquaintances, so it is harder to walk away.

    I am considering joining SITS through Goodreads to get a more serious group led by Andrea (her blog is Great Thoughts) @gr8thoughts on Twitter. I think it will be a more serious, a bit impersonal, but yet I might get what I’m missing from my current group.

    I am with Stephanie in that I am the only writer in the group and I tend to look at books a bit differently. I find myself either defending the author when they cut something down without “getting it” or I scoff at their lame book choices. They aren’t on Twitter and are missing out on all the recommendations!

    I’m thinking an online book club would be a great idea. If you started one, I would lobby for a coveted spot. :)

  41. Emily
    April 25, 2011 | 4:12 pm

    I would LOVE to be in a book club with you. I’ve never tried one, but I imagine that I’d have a hard time unless the group was filled with other English majors like myself. I miss reading and discussing like back in school, so I’d be happy to find a group that felt like Thurs. evening recitations but with wine.

  42. Rachel
    January 12, 2012 | 3:35 pm

    I think I have a book club curse, too! My issue has always been the sort of books chosen . . . I don’t want to read, for instance, Stephenie Meyer in an adult book club. Maybe if I were 15 I’d be more excited to gobble that up, but I can’t say that I looked forward to most of the book choices in the clubs I’ve been involved with. And I found out that the rest of the club members didn’t look forward to my choice, either, when it was my turn to pick–my book’s night was mostly a discussion of how they all would prefer to stick with children or young adult books that, I’m quoting here, “I don’t have to really think about.” Then what’s the point of a book club?! I gave up and dropped out :-)

    • Nina Badzin
      January 13, 2012 | 1:58 pm

      Exactly . . . if it’s aggravating then it’s not worth it!

  43. Juju @ Tales of Whimsy.com
    January 22, 2012 | 10:59 am

    They don’t finish it in time? That would seriously annoy me.

    I think you should go for it.

    Good luck!

  44. [...] my never-ending delusion to imagine Oprah as my kindred spirit* (see this, this, and this), I’m sharing the finds that are making my life better these days. Please note: I [...]

  45. [...] spring I described my inability to find a book club where my book-freak ways were welcomed with open [...]

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