Recently I discovered I no longer fit with the book club I’ve been in for 2-3 years. I love the theme of the book club, which is reading books by women around the world, and I’ve loved many of the books. But over the last six months, I’ve felt really out of sync with the rest of the group. There was one book they all seemed to love, that I could barely finish (Against the Loveless World). Then I loved the next book (The Puma Years), while everyone just complained about it.
The whole point of a book club is to have spirited conversation about the pros and cons of a book, right? So why should that bother me? I think because I felt like the outsider in the conversation, and it just seemed like once one person skewed positive or negative, everyone went in that direction. In our recent discussion of The Puma Years, for example, even though a number of different points, pro and con, were raised, the discussion morphed into “why we all hated this book”. Since I’d already said how much I’d enjoyed the book, I felt defensive and ignored.
This bothers me because I though of myself as someone who doesn’t mind being disagreed with. But now I’m not so sure.
A problem with this book club, and maybe all of them, is you get 2 or 3 chances to make a point about the book and then you need to let other people talk. Normally I’m more than happy to let others talk. But I’ve gotten spoiled by writing long reviews on my own time, so when I only have 30 seconds to make a point, I immediately feel like I’ve left out all the important bits. I want to explain, discuss, provide examples, but the group’s already moved on to something else.
I also realized, sadly, that after more than two years in this club, I knew almost nothing about the people in the group, with the exception of one or two, and I don’t think they know anything about me. This is where I have to tell you that I’m not so good at clubs in general. And now that I’m 50, it just feels impossible to meet people and really get to know them. It would be great to have one of those book clubs where you’re close friends who get together and maybe talk about the book. (Of course then I’d probably be annoyed because it wouldn’t be enough about the book.) I’d love a book club that had both camaraderie and book discussion, but I feel like that’s not going to happen.
My husband keeps urging me to start the book club I’m looking for. But I have plenty to read without one, and with this blog I have plenty of people to “talk” to about what I read. I already get a feeling of community from reading challenges and blogging events. Trying to create a book club will take away from the time I want to spend on the blog, and I don’t have time to manage one. And maybe, no one needs one more book club.
I recently joined an “Un-Book-Club” which is a group that meets once a month (virtually for now) to share books they liked and didn’t like. It’s a completely random mix of genres and you have no way of knowing whether you have similar reading styles as the people recommending books. But it’s also fun and low-pressure — no stress forcing yourself to read something you don’t want to.
My neighborhood just started a new book club based on the Glennon Doyle podcast We Can Do Hard Things. It would be nice to meet more of my neighbors (maybe) and it would be convenient to get to. I listened to a podcast episode with Susan Cain (author of Quiet) and I don’t know if I loved the podcast but the books might be interesting.
Still, why jump into yet another book club I have limited time for, one I might feel crushed by? Is the need for in-person connection over books that important?
I know enough about fixed versus growth mindsets to know it’s not productive to say “I’m bad at book clubs”. Maybe I just haven’t found the right one. Or maybe curling up with a good book and then writing a review is more than enough for me.
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