Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Let's start a club

"Well, instead of discussing the book we could discuss why none of us had time to read it."
The New Yorker cartoon caption

I have never belonged to a book club, not counting those where they send you a book every month unless you remember to let them know you don't want it. I've belonged to two or three of those over the years. No, I'm speaking of those where everybody reads the same book, then meets to talk about it.

In theory this sounds like something I should love to do. Maybe I would, but only if the following criteria were met:

1. I get to choose the book. Of course, every member of a book club should have an equal opportunity to choose which book the group will read next, but rarely am I interested in reading books chosen or recommended by someone else. I did enough assigned reading in high school and college to last a lifetime. I own hundreds of unread books, as well as hundreds of other books I'd love to read again. So why would I want to read books selected by someone else?

2. The group actually discusses the book, not everything else. I love the New Yorker cartoon cited above, which I have had posted on my bulletin board for years. Discussions that stray off topic are a pet peeve of mine. I like meetings that have agendas and discussion groups that stay on the subject. That's my biggest problem with the movie discussion group I sometimes lead (when I get to choose the film). When I pose a question, there is always somebody who wants to talk about something else. I have to keep reminding myself that the whole point of the evening, other than watching the film itself, is a good discussion. Whether or not my particular questions are ever addressed is irrelevant, at least to everybody but me.

I expect to have more to say about book discussion groups next time.

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