Thursday, June 12, 2008

Booking Through Thursday - Clubbing

School's out so now I can rejoin the blogging world. What better way than Booking Through Thursday. So here's today's BTT question:

Have you ever been a member of a book club? How did your group choose (ot, 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?

This one is bringing back some really bad memories. Yes, both my husband and I were part of a book club for a while. It was not a great experience.

The first book the club selected was The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl. It was selected by the self-appointed leader of the group. Now, to be fair, the group was his idea. Unfortunately, this is not a very good book, but the leader spent the whole first meeting going into excruciating detail on Dante's Inferno because he thought it was essential to understanding the book. It may also have been that he had taught a course on Dante as well.

It took the group three meetings over four months to finish the book. I hated the book so much that I tried listening to it in the car just to finish it so I wouldn't be left out.

The same person selected the next book which was short stories by Flannery O'Connor. I've read a lot of her stuff since I took a Southern Literature course in college. Unfortunately, this book club meeting felt like a bad college course where the professor is always right. This particular meeting ended in an argument between two very strong willed people who had very different opinions about a story. Neither of them could be wrong so it got very uncomfortable.

Needless to say, this book club failed quite quickly. It also soured me on the idea of book clubs. I like to read what I want to read and don't always want to finish a book I don't like. This particular group felt too "college-y" to be fun.

A group of teacher where I work may start a book club next school year. I'm hopeful that will be a better experience because we are not leaving book selection to one person but the school librarian is going to give everyone input. We'll see how that goes.

So do you have a book club horror story to share?


John Mutford said...

Wow. That sounds horrible. It sounds like that person wanted to teach a class, not host a book club.

Marie said...

At the club I used to belong to, most of the books were picked by one person with weird taste and after a while it got tiresome. I think having different people pick or at least have input makes a big difference.

gautami tripathy said...

That felt like my professor teaching. By not listening to anyone. This happened when we were being taught All my Sons by Arthur Miller.

Shannon H. said...

That doesn't sound like fun at all. I see whey it soured you on the idea of book clubs.

Literary Feline said...

That is an awful experience! I can understand your not being too keen on joining another one as a result. I do hope the new one works out much better. I do think groups work better when everyone has input in the reading selections.

BookGal said...

John - You are exactly right. My husband actually got the person a college class to teach and he backed out.

Marie - It's good to hear that input may matter.

Guatami - That's what it felt like. But everyone else had to host because the leader wouldn't.

Shannon - I'm still a bit afraid of the new one at work.

Literary - I'm really trying to be hopeful. The librarian who is kind of in charge is really sweet so maybe it'll be better.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

While our book club leader takes suggestions, she pre-reads the books and then ultimately decides which ones to read. It's been hit and miss.