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What My Experience In A Book Club Taught Me

Laura Melgão

Staff Writer

Laura Melgão is a 27-year-old woman who still reads - and loves! - YA books. Feminist, sensible and an introvert by nature, she found an escape in books soon after she learned how to read. One of her recently found aims is to write to others about literature - simply what makes her world go round.

Three years ago, I joined a book club. Little did I know what this book club experience would teach me in the long run. After endless months meeting the same people and reading some good (and pretty bad) books, revelations came to light. After all, maintaining a book club takes much more than innovation and compromise – above all, it takes friendship.

The beginning

I had a friend who loved reading just as much as I do. We shared our love for reading, our jobs in the same company, and some other things. In one of our many conversations about books, we talked about how it would be awesome to start a book club. That’s when we decided to give it a try. What if we launched the idea in one of many groups that were appealing to us on Goodreads?

And so we did it. On a Portuguese Readers group on Goodreads, she posted a thread asking if there were people interested in joining and forming a book club in Lisbon. The replies were many. We set up a date, and we all met in person.

Puntastic And Fun Book Club Names

In the beginning, we were more than 10 people. The meetings were crowded and loud, but somehow we managed to create some ground rules and organize ourselves. Along the way, we “lost” some (people who never showed up again), and we gained some (friends who were brought in from other members). Soon enough, we were celebrating our first year as an official book club.


Modus Operandi

Our modus operandi was always the same: on a monthly basis, choose a book (from a list where everyone suggested titles), read it, and discuss it at the meeting with a chosen moderator. Of course, not everyone showed up at the meetings every month, but since we were 10 altogether, there were always enough people to assure them.

After two and a half years, the stalling came. I felt somewhat imprisoned because every month I had a choice to make – either read the book the club had chosen, or read one of my huge to-read pile. And with 2 years of meeting with the same people, there was another problem too: there was little discussion because everyone who was a moderator always asked the same old questions.


Shocking Discoveries

I found out I wasn’t the only one feeling discontent about the situation, so we gathered and suggested other ways of discussing books to the group. Imagine our shock and disbelief when the rest of them was fairly against it – enough so that they even got angry and aggressive.

And that was the end of my participation in that book club. I was let down in many ways, many people there disappointed me, and I had even lost the friend with whom I’d started it all. As it turns out, don’t try to change the thing someone else thinks it’s their project – their little baby.

So, what have I learned from this experience? Basically, that if you’re surrounded with the wrong people, you won’t thrive – and neither will your reading habits/interests. It’s important to always ask yourself if you’re comfortable and if you’re happy with what you’re doing. If not, then there’s no point wasting your time.

As I felt I wasn’t learning anything new and wasn’t reading what really interested me, the book club started making no sense to me. And so I quit. Today I’m part of a new book club, founded by me and my fellow newly found friends from the past experience aforementioned. We know what we like and don’t like, what are our aims and expectations for the group, and we’re not afraid to step out of our comfort zones and try new things. We’re happy to start a new whole different chapter in our lives. After all, that’s what a book club is all about.