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Discuss Tips on Handling Difficult Book Club Situations:
Bored listening to member monologue

Created: 10/16/10

Replies: 6

Posted Mar. 19, 2011 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 3

Bored listening to member monologue

One of our members wrote a four-page synopsis of one of the books we were reading and read it to us at our meeting. It was quite interesting, but ever since then she brings a summary of every book we read and insists on reading it to us. We're so bored listening to her regurtitating the storyline that we all know. What do we do - she's very nice and we don't want to hurt her feelings?

Posted Mar. 19, 2011 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 10/11/10

Posts: 359

RE: Bored listening to member monologue

I must say I think this is the first time I've heard of a member bringing a "book report" to each meeting but it's definitely not the first time I've heard of a group having trouble with a member who consistently takes over the meeting and seems oblivious to other people's views on the matter!

If you encounter a person who insists on taking center stage at each meeting and it's annoying a majority of other members, you might simple want to tell her straight that this is not acceptable! Sometimes telling it as it is, as gently as possible, is less hurtful to feelings in the long run.

If you don't feel able to do this, then how about finding a way to 'redirect' her. For example, perhaps you as a group could thank her for all her work but say that it would be even more useful if she could summarize the book and the discussion after the meeting rather than during it. In short, you'd be making her the meeting secretary, responsible for recording the key points of the book and the conversation.

Then, most importantly, encourage her to email her notes to the members before the next meeting so there is no need to discuss it at the meeting - but make a point of thanking her for her work.

Personally, I would be tempted to take the direct approach but, as you're not comfortable with that, perhaps the option above will redirect her energies and having a record of each book and the key points discussed might actually be interesting to look back on over time!

Anyone got any other ideas?

Posted Apr. 14, 2011 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 20

RE: Bored listening to member monologue

Oh dear!

That is a very tricky situation. I think admin has some great ideas, and I would echo her thought about encouraging the member to email her summary ahead of the meeting so that people will come to the meeting ready to analyze the book.

I actually think an emailed summary would be very nice to have for members. Many book club members do a lot of reading, and sometimes key plot points are forgotten by the time of the meeting. But I would not be excited about someone reading their book report to me . . .

If she doesn't take the hint, then I think you really are going to have to speak to her in a more direct way. I would do this privately and as kindly as you can. Something along the lines of: "Susie, we so appreciate all the hard work you have done thus far on summarizing the books for us. However, I think that starting out each meeting with someone reading aloud to us doesn't really encourage discussion. The assumption really is that people have already read the book and don't necessarily need a plot summary. I feel bad telling you this because I know you've put a lot of effort into it so far -- but I also feel worse having you continue to do a lot of work when it really doesn't dovetail with how we hope to run the club. Our time is so limited with our busy lives - - we just want to dive right into discussion so we aren't rushed."

Good luck! I hope you will report back on what happens . . .

Posted Apr. 21, 2011 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 10/20/10

Posts: 63

RE: Bored listening to member monologue

I support the above advice to ask the member to e-mail the summaries in advance. I believe most people will take the hint and will not insist on reading the summary out loud. Another way to handle the situation would be to impose some structure on the beginning of each meeting. For example, you could start off each meeting by asking each member to give a 2-3 sentence overview of their overall reaction to the book. My group does this, and it works very well. We all spend some time in advance condensing our views into just a couple sentences. The exercise has the benefit of giving everyone a chance to talk. After we're done with our short summaries, a more free-for-all discussion follows.

Posted Sep. 12, 2011 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 05/21/11

Posts: 40

RE: Bored listening to member monologue

The ideas shared are very helpful. I think I would take advantage of her willingness to do research. I am the discussion leader in one of the two monthly groups I attend. One of the things I have been doing is sharing info
about the author. We don't spend a lot of time on this part of the discussion but it has been interesting and often informative about the book itself. I would ask the person to do that research and then give her a set
amount of time to share. I would hold her to that time. Reading a summary of the book is a extreme waste of
precious discussion time!!

Posted Mar. 16, 2012 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 12/04/11

Posts: 10

RE: Bored listening to member monologue

My group often uses your Reading Guide for our discussions. However, there is one member who answers almost every question immediately. Her willingness to answer discourages many others from speaking - and so it becomes a monologue! I have suggested passing the questions around and whoever reads the question has the opportunity to answer first. Our present moderator does not like this technique. Can anyone suggest a method to encourage everyone to participate?

Posted Mar. 17, 2012 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2332

RE: Bored listening to member monologue

Hi Terry,

From what you say it seems to me that the short answer is that the moderator's primary function is to make sure that everyone who wants to have a say has it and that no one dominates. If she is not doing this then she is not being an effective moderator. Thus, the problem lies equally with the moderator and the other woman - because the moderator has allowed this woman to get used to answering every question first when this habit should have been nipped in the bud long ago.

At this point in time I think you're left with six options:

1) The group introduces some sort of system as you've suggested where a specific person answers a specific question - which is far from optimal.

2) The group introduces a system whereby people put their hands up to answer a question and the moderator calls on them (hello 5th grade!)

3) You resort to the tried and trusted elementary school playground tactic and just tell the woman that you've had enough and to please just shut up for once!

4) The moderator starts doing her job and firmly but gently stops the woman from answering every question and reminds her that there are others in the group who might like to speak first.

5) You change moderators to someone who will manage properly.

6) You all suck it up and allow what should be one of the best evenings of the month to collapse into an evening you start to dread - and before long people will stop turning up and the group will dissolve or split.

I can't tell you which option, or variation on option, to do, but I will observe that the only one of these options that doesn't require either the group or the moderator to take things in hand is option 6.

--- Davina


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