Let’s talk about book clubs for a second. If you are in a book club, why are you? Or if you’re not and want to be, why do you want to? (And if you’re neither in a book club nor desirous of being in one, move along. Nothing to see here.)
I’ve been in many a book club over the years, and the way I see it, there are three reasons for being in one:
(1) You want to read MOAR books and you figure the public accountability of a book club will help with that;
(2) You already read a lot, but want to read stuff that is outside what you normally read;
(3) You want an excuse to hang out with your friends and drink every month. (My book club meets for dinner at different awesome restaurants every month, so I do not judge.)
All of these reasons are a completely valid reason to join a book club. My personal reason for being in a book club is the second; I read a metric ton of books per year (okay, so that’s a ridiculous exaggeration, but I read a lot, okay?) but I always like straying outside my comfort zone. For example, this month we’re reading Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success by Phil Jackson and Hugh Delehanty. I do not so much follow the sporting games, but I’m actually liking the book, which I never would have picked up without my book club.
But what happens when you have people in a book club for different reasons? This, in my opinion, is where the real strife of book clubs is. Not when some love the book and others hate it, but when some read the books religiously and others never finish a book, or even worse: when someone flat out decrees that they aren’t going to read a book club pick because it doesn’t interest them.
To me, the point of being a book club is to read the book and discuss it, even if you don’t like it. If everyone loves the book, then our “discussion” lasts a total of 10 minutes and quickly moves on to who ordered the best cocktail (usually not me, because I always order beer). The best book club discussions are when people feel strongly about the book—one way or another—and that will happen much less if book club members refuse to read books that they aren’t interested in.
I’m not trying to say you should kick members out of your book club if they neglect to finish a book or two (or that you are a bad book club member if you’re that person—we’ve all been there). Just that being in a book club does come with responsibilities to your fellow members, and even if you aren’t interested in a book, QUIT YOUR WHINING AND AT LEAST TRY IT, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.
I don’t really have a solution to this problem, or even helpful suggestions, beyond making sure all the members of your book club are on the same page when they join. But I can certainly say that this is a problem that plagues pretty much every book club I’ve been a part of or have really ever heard of.
Have you had to deal with this in your book club? How have you handled it?