Q. "I am trying to get out more and decided to join a book club, in part to get over being socially awkward. I have a tendency to be outgoing, but sometimes in a silly way because of my awkwardness. Can you please provide the top ten guidelines for how one should act and speak in a book club?" - Anne
We get a lot of book-related questions at BookBrowse. Sometimes, when when stumped we turn to the wonderful community of BookBrowsers, who never let me down! Here is their advice for Anne:
Words of Wisdom
"Relax and be yourself. The first time with people you don't know is always nerve wracking. So you are not alone there. Just take a deep breath and if you think you are getting too gidddy just step back and take some deep cleansing breaths and calm yourself down. You will be able to judge how the club is by watching how they act. Some are light and fun while others may be more low key and some may be downright boring from your point of view. Don't give up - if one doesn't work for you then find another. I'm sure they will welcome you with open arms." - Dianne T
"Listen, more than talk, until you get the 'feel' of the group." - Kate M
"Just be yourself and keep trying groups until you find one you are comfortable in. It is great you are getting out! Just accept yourself! You are the only you this world gets to enjoy!" - Dorothy B
'It's okay to be 'shy' until you get the lay of the land, to look for a friendly face and not to be afraid to ask questions about what is acceptable." - Sheila H
"Try to avoid discussions of politics, religion, etc. If you are discussing a possible upcoming book, which you have already read, don't be negative, unless of course it was god-awful." - FE
"I actually have similar issues. I am introverted and do have social anxiety which can then become social awkwardness as I 'nervous talk'. Last year, I joined a new in-person book group to help me get out more. Since I love books so much, it's a reassuring comfort zone. I decided to be very upfront about my social anxiety and awkwardness and just told the other group members this is something I struggle with. They were very lovely and supportive, so that was great. But it turns out a lot of people live with these things too. My advice - which I try to remember for my own self each meeting - is to listen well and ensure others are getting a chance to speak and be heard. Sometimes quieter members get talked over by the more outspoken members. I prepare notes beforehand with the things from the book I hope we talk about, or information I have researched in support of the author or book." - Jennifer
"I've been part of a book club for a year now - its been a wonderful way to meet new friends and new books that I would not have met otherwise. Being open to learning from others, even if their tastes are quite different has been a key point to having a sense of belonging." - Gayleen T
Margie A's Top Ten
- Actually read the book.
- Don't show up drunk.
- Don't sit next to Chatty Cathy, you'll never get a word in.
- Bring a chocolatey dessert, like caramel brownies, everyone likes the girl who brings chocolate.
- Eat before you come so you're not starving and devouring the snacks.
- Think of something from the book that really made an impression on you and speak up early so no one brings it up first.
- Compliment others, but not in a fake way.
- Get your hair/nails done so you feel your best.
- Have a good sense of humor.
- Don't fret the small stuff, it's a book club, you're not being judged.
Carrie R's Top 5
- Read the book. Sometimes life gets in the way and it's not possible to finish, but the group suffers if you aren't fully able to contribute.
- Listen thoughtfully to the other members. All opinions should be welcomed.
- Take notes while you're reading. This will help you feel confident & prepared for the discussion.
- Stay on topic when you're speaking. There are always tangents, but don't monopolize the meeting.
- Enjoy yourself. Being in a book club is a wonderful way to make friends. It's my favorite personal pursuit!
Chaitri D's Top 10:
- Explain it simply
- Be yourself while doing all this
*I think by correlate Chaitri means to look for connections in what you're reading, perhaps to other books, perhaps to the group's lives)
What advice would you give Anne? Please post below (if you don't see a field to post click here); or respond to the quick poll. The poll is now closed - view the results.
Davina, BookBrowse Editor