Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Book Club Pet Peeves

I've belonged to a bunch of book clubs, and I'm in two now. In general I really enjoy the opportunity to discuss books with other readers, to add a social element to the usually-solitary activity of reading. But there are definitely some things that drive me crazy about book clubs.
  • When people who haven't read the book drive the conversation. Look, the rest of us took the time to read the book and come prepared. You didn't have time? Fine. Don't come to the meeting! Or just listen and don't offer your opinion when you don't know what you're talking about.
  • An unfocused moderator who lets one dominant person take over. Usually in the group that dominant person is myself. So book club leaders, watch out for Marie and people like her. She just never shuts up.
  • People who hated the book and won't talk about it except to say how much they hated it. When I hate a book so much I have nothing more to say than that, I just don't go. Because what's the point? It's almost the same as not having read it, because you only have one thing to say. If you're going to go, just say it once and let people with more nuanced opinions talk it out. Folding your arms and scowling doesn't add very much to the conversation.
  • When the snacks are no good. Haha just kidding. Or if there are no snacks.
  • Picking out of print books. This has happened a couple of times. If you're selecting a book, just make sure it's available. Learn how to read online listings so you understand the difference, or ask at your local independent bookstore. The best thing is to see it on the shelf. If you don't, ask and make sure people will be able to get it. Then check your library to make sure it has copies too.
  • Going off-topic. We're here to talk about the book, not your personal issues, so put away the tales of childhood trauma or bad relationships or vacation or whatever. And please don't bring in politics or religion unless those are an integral part of the book.
  • Telling someone their ideas about what to read are unwelcome, for any reason. If someone wants to contribute, at least listen and be respectful. If the group wants to pass, fine, but treat people with courtesy. You don't have a group if everyone leaves. 
  • Picking the same kind of book over and over. Unless your club specifically specializes in YA, or dysfunctional family memoirs, mix it up.
That's all I can think of right now. What are your book club pet peeves?