I have always been an avid reader following the pattern of giving book recommendations to kids and adults. I had never been part of a book club in my life until 2015 however. I knew some friends that were in a club and tried to hint my way into an invitation with no avail. As I was running with a friend who also reads a lot we decided that we would start our own club so that we could mold it in our image of what we thought it would be. The biggest pet peeve my friend had was the club she was currently in didn’t actually discuss the book at meetings. I recently heard on the Book Riot podcast that book clubs fail because of the mix of people – not the actual practice of reading the book. Everyone can pick a book and plan a date to talk but the physicalness of getting the people together and then continuing that pattern is the issue. The group has to be coherent for it to survive.
So the friend and I started our own group which consisted of 4 teachers total and I non-teacher. Then (of course) I got invited to the group I had been stalking. Then I went to a writers workshop and met a lovely woman who wanted to start an academic group to discuss non mainstream texts and authors.
Be careful what you ask the universe for….it answers.
Each of the groups is distinctly different.
One is a more conservative group who reads mainstream novels that are recommended from the reading lives of the group.
Another is a group of all teachers that look at the selections a little differently. The books are also chosen from group member recommendations. Lists from the Huffington Post, Man Booker award lists, National Book Award, etc are used to determine books to read. The conversation always starts out about the book, morphs to reading in general, and then moves to reading related to teaching.
The last group is the most eccentric and diverse. The food is always a great part of the group dynamic. We have discussed Lydia Davis and one members grad school thesis and the trials and tribulations that go along with that process in addition to award winning books.
These groups leave me feeling rejuvenated and happy. As time moves forward, some of the faces change and the meeting schedules get farther apart. I am sure these will not be the only groups I am ever a part of surrounding books but they all just make me a better reader.
What is your ideal book club like? I would love to hear.