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Discuss Tips on Handling Difficult Book Club Situations:
Member wants us all to read different books, not the same one

Created: 01/19/12

Replies: 1

Posted Jan. 19, 2012 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 10/11/10

Posts: 359

Member wants us all to read different books, not the same one

Our club has seven members, one of which says that she does not like having to read a book that someone else has chosen so she plans to leave unless we change how we discuss books. What she wants us to do is to have all of us read a different book and then all come to the meeting and share our particular book with the other members. What do you advise?

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Posted Jan. 19, 2012 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2332

RE: Member wants us all to read different books, not the same one

That's an interesting question that doesn't have a simple answer.

My first reaction is to say that I don't think you as a group should allow yourselves to be steered off on an entirely new course by one member simply because she doesn't like the way things are. To quote Spock in Star Trek, "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" (which incidentally isn't an original thought but traces back to the New Testament and before that at least as far back as Aristotle). In short, it is simply not viable for the happiness and cohesiveness of your group for you all to change a structure that you're happy with simply because one person wants it. So, I suggest you consider the possibility that this person may simply not be right for your group and you could end up bending over backwards only to find that she's still not happy.

Having said that, I know of a number of groups who do discuss multiple books at a meeting - some who follow this structure permanently but most who do it from time to time. So, perhaps this is something that you and the group members would like to try once, and if you enjoy it, consider making it a regular feature of your club (but not necessarily every meeting!)

Here are a couple of suggestions with regard to multiple books:

1. Have a meeting, perhaps once a year or once every six months, and all bring a book you love and take a few minutes telling the others about it. Many groups who do this do so at their last meeting before Christmas and then turn it into a book exchange. I think this could be a fun change of pace occasionally but, personally, I would find it deadly dull on a regular basis as, without a unifying theme (such as a single book, or at least a single topic) you're not going to have much actual discussion, instead you're simply going to be listening to a series of verbalized book reviews.

2. This is why most groups that I hear from who discuss multiple books at a meeting do so by picking two or more books on a similar theme (and aim to have about equal numbers read each book so that the conversation doesn't skew too much). For example, this could work well if you wanted to discuss two books set in a particular country - some could pick a nonfiction book, others could pick a fiction and then you could discuss how the two different books explore the setting. Or you could pick two books set in a particular time period, such as the south in the 1960s (e.g. The Help and The Dry Grass of August). Or you could pick two self-help type books and compare the different techniques. You could pick two fiction books by the same author but of course there's a risk that you end up discussing plot spoilers which might annoy those who are yet to read one of the books.

Although this technique works for many groups I'm not convinced that it would be right for yours as you mentioned in your email that this particular member says she doesn't have the attention span to read the sort of books that your group choose, which raises warning bells for me as the sort of books that lend themselves to discussing a particular topic tend to be books of relative substance, not the lightweight reads that I suspect this woman might be looking for.

I hope this helps!

Anyone out there got ideas to add this?

-- Davina, BookBrowse Editor


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