Monday, December 12, 2011

Why I Don't Want to Join Your Shitty Book Club

I found myself at a party this weekend in which Margaret Atwood was discussed torn apart for her writing style. I bashed Atwood a little for being hit-or-miss and watched others listen to me; the Persistent Reader speaks! and he uses words like eloquent and superfluous! They were discussing their book club read The Handmaid's Tale. No one liked it or had really discussed it past the point of "not liking it".

What I do when you mention your book club.
I always get invited to join book clubs. I hate them, though. My excuse has always been to tell people that I don't have time for their club. This is clearly a lie: I can find time to read two books a week but not time to join your club? Thankfully no one has caught onto this.

I've had the experience that a vast majority of book clubs are a self-help group sort of people who want to read more but can't find the motivation or time. So they think one book a month will change their life and turn them into the reader they've always claimed to be. I find those groups to be, well, snotty.

I once had a club--without telling me before I signed on--that they would read celebrity autobiographies and biographies only. I gave it a shot and bought and read a Chelsea Handler book. I didn't think it would be that bad. But we ended up talking about celebrity gossip (which I know nothing about) for a majority of the time. I ended up getting drunk on vodka because we held the meeting at a bar. It was their first meeting; they never had another.

The most enjoyable non-bookish experience I had with a book club was with a group of coworkers. We spent our entire meeting discussing who was screwing who at work and who we hated. We did this in the work cafeteria. We just kept the books on the lunch table and whenever people approached us we would tell them to go away: work book club meeting. The point? Don't start a book club with your coworkers. You won't talk about books. And you will get in trouble.

Outside of Gossip Clubs and Bar Book Clubs and Celebrity Book Clubs; I've had the unfortunate fortune of seeing the insides of houses that should never be seen. I don't want to join your shitty book club because your house reeks of old cheese and your children are running around screaming. This person should have watched an episode of Hoarders and asked themselves a few hard questions.

It's not that reading a book a month is a bad thing. It's claiming to be in a book club that's a bad thing. It's claiming that you read so, so, so much but you only read one book last month. Being in a book club shouldn't be a title or a badge of honor; it's you and your friends reading the same shit and talking about it. That's all. And reading one book a month does not make you an avid reader. It makes you an average American and the average American is not an avid reader.

9 comments:

  1. I have never officially joined a book club. Something about the idea of someone telling me what I have to read & then forcing me to discuss it reminds me too much of school. That's not really a good time for me (even though I want to be a teacher & force kids to read books & then talk about them with me, haha). I think if I did join one, alcohol would need to be involved & I'd be that girl talking about everything BUT the book.

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  2. After reading this...I'm glad I'm not in a book club. Just a book blogger :)

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  3. i've always wanted to be in a book club. but it has to be the one that exists in my mind. and i don't think that book club could ever be real with people that i know in my real life. eww. i think if i could pluck a few of my blogger friends that are similar in personality to myself, it might work. maybe.

    i've been invited to a couple, but i felt like a trophy reader - like i was giving a book report and all the people were staring at me and nobody contributed anything. no, person-that-i-know, you have a stupid stupid stupid book club, and i will never come back.

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  4. I joined a book club once because my mother wanted me to. She's super shy and I'm too nice for my own good. This led to one of the most traumatic reading experiences of my life. To this day, I want to hide in the corner and cry if someone mentions "We Were the Mulvaneys". Never again.

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  5. Ginger, booze is a plus for any book club meeting.

    Jacque, it is easier to be a book blogger. You can like-minded people easier on the internet.

    Asheley, just avoid them. I've tried and tried again and have never had fun at any of them. Although a blog read-a-long thing is fun. I did that with Marcel Proust's A Memory of Things Past.

    Molly, ahahahaha. New Rule: You should not be in a book club with your mother.

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  6. I'm cracking up at this. I've never been in a real book club before. I think mostly because they seemed pretentious and were always reading stuff that sounded boring as hell to me. Basically I read YA, so I'm too shallow for them. :P
    However, a group of us were discussing FORBIDDEN by Tabitha Suzuma on Twitter and how we'd like to read it, but the brother/sister thing freaked us out. Long story short....ish, we started a book club. It's online, so no drinking unless you're drinking alone, and no smelly houses, except if you forgot to take out the trash. We're pretty much all book bloggers, so we're fitting it in among all our other books. I've been pleasantly surprised by how much I've enjoyed it. I think sometimes bloggers can get trapped in their own little reviewing world, and never get a chance to really discuss a book that made them think. It's been a nice change. I guess we'll see how it goes in the future.

    Love this post tho. I found your blog from GReads, which I found fro Page Turners Blog.

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  7. I tend to get lost in the "post to my blog only" world sometimes. I try to hit up the other blogs as much as possible but I won't read a review of a book I'm about to read, so sometimes I ended up skipping.

    I love GReads and am so happy to of made her end of the year list.

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  8. I started a book club with a bunch of other reader friends, mostly just so we could get together over drinks and talk about a book we'd all read. We have pretty varied tastes. It's good fodder for writing book reviews on my blog.

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  9. Just went to book club yesterday and I never look forward to it. This club is over ten years old and it did not actually start out as a typical book club. It was simply three English teachers who wanted to keep up with the classics we were teaching in class. We never referred to it as a club. It was more like..."Hey, I want to teach Hunchback. Let's read it and see what we can do with it."

    We started off with The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hamlet, and then Lolita. We would get together and have really good chats about these books and at the same time–we were getting something done for class! Then one of us invited someone new. (without checking in with each other)

    Shebang! the whole dynamic changed and within three more gatherings we were reading Oprah books. One particularly strong personality--hell, all of the new members had strong personalities--named us the Book Babies. She started an official archive of all the books we had read thus far.

    THEN, within about three years the two original founding members moved–one to teach in Minneapolis and the other retired to Colorado. I was the only founding father.

    I hate spending money on books that I don't want to read. Moreover, the book club choices are ALWAYS liberal in scope. The more the themes and characters reflect Americans as being jingoistic troglodytes the better. And ultimately I cannot criticize anything about the novels chosen artistically or otherwise because it is always near and dear to at least the one who suggested it.

    I started to become more juvenile in my feelings about this club as it grew in number. By year six the club had grown to ten ladies. At some point I let them know that I simply did not have time to read the titles because of the reading I had to keep on top of in my teaching. Feelings were hurt but “Whew!” I was finally out of it. They pulled me back once by insisting that they would read something I was doing for class. So in year seven we did Othello and in year eight we did A Prayer for Owen Meany. The problem with this is that they assume I have rejoined and then I feel guilty because they are trying so hard to keep me a part of it because after all I am one of the founding fathers.

    I still get emails inviting me like I never officially quit and so I go to a couple a year. This reminds me of women who cannot leave their hairstylists even though they hate their hair cuts.

    Alcohol is not an option for me because I am a recovering alcoholic so there you have it. These ladies are in for life. So once again I am considering ways to really get out of it this time. I am a poster child for co-dependency.



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