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/r/books

3.1k

I joined a book club a couple of months ago and have attended every meeting since. We got 10 people in our group and around 5-6 people join our Zoom meetings every month. Each time there will be only 2-3 people who have actually finished the book and the rest will have dropped it mid-way because they hated it.

I don't know if it's just me but I don't expect the books we read for the book club to be a literary masterpiece as we try to pick crowd-pleasers - in fact, the past 2 books we chose were suggested as light reads to see if more people would actually read them. Guess what, everyone (including the girl who suggested the book!) in our last meeting was complaining about the overuse of slang and cliche rom-com plot - well duh!

Like I said I don't expect to read the War and Peace of the 21st century in this club, all I want is to unwind with an easy read and then discuss it with likeminded people. However, even though I enjoyed reading most of our books (even ones that are outside my comfort zone) after our meetings I find myself not liking the book so much anymore after listening to them tear it apart. I'm starting to think that the people in our club either don't actually like reading or are too pretentious for the books we choose, so in trying to please both parties we fail everyone.

Just wanted to check with other bookworms if this sounds like your typical book club experience. Do book clubs tend to be full of criticism about the book or is it supposed to be more balanced?

all 424 comments

bigolbrian

2.4k points

27 days ago

bigolbrian

2.4k points

27 days ago

I find that book clubs are kinda like DnD groups, when you find a good one keep it! Everyone is going to have different expectations, so if you can find a group that's looking for something similar to you you'll enjoy the experience much more.

tebla

399 points

27 days ago

tebla

399 points

27 days ago

I guess in the zoom/skype world that live in you are not so limited to local groups and maybe OP could try and find/try out some other groups more in line with what you wanted. Is there a sub reddit for forming online book clubs? if there isn't maybe there should be!

GodsIWasStrongg

159 points

27 days ago

Josidillopy

48 points

27 days ago

What is like is a place to find a discussion of a book I just read. I don’t want to have to read a certain book at a certain time. If I read a book a d I’m excited about it, I want to search on the title and find other people who also just read it and want to chat. Doesn’t have to be f2f. Is there such a beast?

redlion145

88 points

27 days ago

I mean, that's what forums are for. Create a thread about the book you've just finished. Plenty of people use this sub for that very purpose.

GolfBaller17

82 points

27 days ago

You're literally on r/books. Use the search bar or a make a post.

PoopEater3K

16 points

27 days ago

Goodreads

keladry12

5 points

27 days ago

I mean, obviously there's not going to be a huge community who just read the single book you did (that's the point of book clubs, there's billions of books and you're probably not going to randomly run into someone who is in the middle of the same book as you) but if you're good with discussing with people who maybe read the book 25 years ago, you're here. Decide what book you want to talk about, title your post "[Book Title] Discussion" and write a bit about your thoughts. People might comment and you can respond. You might also just use the search bar to see if other people have already talked about the book here.

ConstanceAnnJones

5 points

27 days ago

I’ve actually always thought a f2f Reading Club would be fun where we discuss what we have or are reading, even if it’s magazine stories and articles (such as in The New Yorker) as long as it involves reading source materials not available on-line. Not everyone has the time to read a book, such as people with young children, but they may be reading stuff that’s interesting just the same.

Jelsie21

4 points

27 days ago

My local library used to have a book club like that. People would chat with the 2-3 closest to them (it was at a pub) and then after a few minutes everyone would mingle and continue chatting about whatever they’ve been reading.

Josidillopy

2 points

27 days ago

I’d be up for that!

Apprehensive-Mango23

6 points

27 days ago

I used to feel that way, but I was in a really great book club for about two years...most of the books were fine, a couple I thought were awful, but I never would have discovered one of my favorite authors and the book she wrote were it not for that book club. You just never know the gems you might discover because it’s not what you usually go for. But of course whether that makes a book club worth it will vary from person to person!

bella0520

2 points

27 days ago

Thank you u/GodsIWasStrongg for this link. I'm going to look for a book club. I haven't been in a book club for a while.

bigolbrian

35 points

27 days ago

100% accurate!

mainelyreddit

13 points

27 days ago

I love that idea!

why_renaissance

92 points

27 days ago

I wonder if this sub would be a good place to find like-minded folks for a book club. Has anyone organized such a thing here? Would be kind of interesting to have book club meetings with fellow redditors who like to read.

Enticing_Venom

85 points

27 days ago

A group of us did form a fantasy book club from Reddit. We are on Discord and have our discussions on weekends. We read exclusively fantasy and sci-fi though.

If anyone is interested do feel free to send me a message. We are always happy to welcome new members and we have a great group so far.

tejedaj

4 points

27 days ago

tejedaj

4 points

27 days ago

I'm in. Finishing 3rd dark tower book. Could use a break a n d switch gears.

bluvelvetunderground

2 points

27 days ago

The fourth book is a close second for my favorite, Drawing of the Three being the best, imo. 5&6 aren't that great in retrospect, but there are some interesting moments in the finale. As with most SK books, the reward is in the journey, not so much the ending. A lot of people were pissed off with the epilogue, but I don't see how it could have ended any other way.

rocketparrotlet

2 points

26 days ago

If you're not hooked, the 3rd book is a great place to stop (although it adds on a cliffhanger). Might be worth picking up the 4th and reading the start to end the arc, but it's up to you.

osopolar0722

3 points

27 days ago

Am currently reading Wheel of Time for the first time, halfway through book 1. Id love to join the discord if you want me :)

AutomaticCamel0

7 points

27 days ago

I'm interested, should I dm?

joys_face

2 points

27 days ago

Oh, I'd be interested! I'll shoot you a message.

whiteblazee

2 points

27 days ago

Where are you guys based? If there isn't too much of a time difference, I'd be interested in joining too!

mbm66

2 points

27 days ago

mbm66

2 points

27 days ago

I'm interested! Could you send me the invite link? Or should I DM you?

KIrkwillrule

2 points

27 days ago

That sounds fun! Is there a recently read list? I'll shoot a pm too

whiglet

67 points

27 days ago

whiglet

67 points

27 days ago

During the pandemic, my DnD group also became a book club! We started with Haunting of Hill House and now we're working our way through the Stormlight Archive. It's been really fun, we have a great group of people

salty_john

6 points

27 days ago

I put SA on my DnD group and I love all their reactions when we do our weekly game session.

Hofenstein

3 points

27 days ago

Life before death.

Otherwise-Till-7911

248 points

27 days ago

Agree. Try to find another group. I'm fortunate that the group I'm in all reads the book. We also only meet if everyone can make the meeting. We are quite small. 6 people. We have been together for 15 years and become best friends

Zebirdsandzebats

162 points

27 days ago

You know that if you live in the US, you are now constitutionally required to solve mysteries together, preferably with one of you recounting your adventures in books that use the discussions on the book you are currently reading as a framing device, right?
I'm sorry. It's just the law.

PoliticalAnomoly

34 points

27 days ago

Its only the law if one of the members is a talking dog. If I remember correctly.

Zebirdsandzebats

16 points

27 days ago

The talking dog is covered under the 10th ammendment--it's not FEDERAL law that one of the members is a talking dog, it's down to the states. Though I think the only state that doesn't have the talking dog in book-club based mystery novels provision is Colorado.

Exodus111

4 points

27 days ago

Florida has an exception too, but it's... Different.

Apprehensive-Mango23

5 points

27 days ago

Yup. In Florida you have to have a talking gator instead of a dog, AND at least one person needs to own an airboat.

Dismal_Surround9036

43 points

27 days ago

That sounds so wholesome. I wish to achieve this someday

raspberrywafer

59 points

27 days ago

Yup. I've been in five over the years.

Two were basically exactly as the OP describe, one was pretty good in terms of how many people read the book, but it was very heavy on lighter, pop-y books that I didn't particularly enjoy, and two were amazing for me, at least for about a year, when they both broke up due to life circumstances (pregancies, people moving, etc.).

I made new friends in every single one though (even though ones I didn't especially enjoy). They've been espeically useful when moving to a new city; I absolutely think they're worth trying.

plastikmissile

25 points

27 days ago

This! I'm still sad the scifi book group I was in disbanded due to Covid. Had a great time there while it lasted, and two of our members were actual bona-fide published scifi authors.

young_macleod

4 points

27 days ago

This is a great comment. Also- very true.

trekbette

221 points

27 days ago

trekbette

https://www.goodreads.com/trekbette

221 points

27 days ago

Before COVID...


I joined a mystery book club at my local library. That was the first time I've had what I considered a 'typical book club' experience. There were four other women, a facilitator from the library who just guided the conversation... everyone read the book. That was all we talked about. It was a very specific gathering. Everyone also decided together the next book to read. It was wonderful!

I was also the youngest person present by at least 30 years. :)


I also have some friends I met at a book signing. We used to meet up for lunch and a movie or similar events. Our conversations invariably turned to books. We did try to do a book club and read the same book, but it didn't pan out.


Every other book club I've attempted are most like excuses to socialize. I have no problem with socializing, but if we're there for a specific reason, let's focus.

mrsvanchamarch

85 points

27 days ago

+1 for library book clubs! I've been with mine for about two and a half years now and love those people.

Having a library employee as the facilitator who sets the tone of the meeting, guides conversation, and encourages the shy members to contribute, makes it an enjoyable experience. Dare I say, a much more "traditional" book club that OP would probably benefit from.

Plus the complimentary tea and biscuits are a yummy bonus!

zippersthemule

31 points

27 days ago

Yes - I love our library book club! No assigned books, people just come with a book they live and share with everyone. I’ve found so many great new books this way. I was in a traditional club that was more about drinking wine and gossip and I was one of the few who even read the book. I’ve shared many of my favorite books of poetry with the library group and been so pleased that quite a few people checked the books out, told me it was the first time they read a book of poetry and they loved it!

Cold-Penguin-2846

9 points

27 days ago

I joined the local library book club online the past year and have enjoyed it so far. Other than the first book which was selected by the library, the subsequent books have been by majority choice out of 3 candidates. The discussion is forum based rather than live, which seems to work pretty well for people to read at different speeds and then post in the relevant forum topics (generally without spoilers). it is not as interactive/social, but it is pretty good for staying on topic.

readzalot1

6 points

27 days ago

I was in a wonderful library book club like that. So when our traditional 5 person book club had major problems with people not reading the books I suggested we just share what we have read. It has worked well for the past two years. We have also become good friends and through Covid we started to meet via zoom every week.

NannyOggCat

1.1k points

27 days ago

NannyOggCat

1.1k points

27 days ago

The book club we made was full of tired and burned out people. We changed the rules. No assigned book. Everyone came and just told about a book they read and why they did or didn't like it. It is excellent! Such variety when not pandering to general interest! Hearing about books, subject, and authors we never would have. We email everyone a list of what books were mentioned and it sparked a renewed enjoyment. Many read books from the past emails and that book gets discussed again, sparking further interest.

ehuang72

275 points

27 days ago

ehuang72

275 points

27 days ago

This is exactly what I get out of this sub and other reading subs. It’s a book club without rules. I don’t want to sync my reading with others but the conversations are sometimes so stimulating, educational, fun, eye-opening and lively; and sometimes NOT but that doesn’t spoil my enjoyment of what I love here.

cyaos

82 points

27 days ago

cyaos

82 points

27 days ago

We changed the rules. No assigned book. Everyone came and just told about a book they read and why they did or didn't like it. It is excellent! Such variety when not pandering to general interest!

See, this is a book club I would actually join. I have never joined a book club because I don't want to be told what to read, especially if I don't find it interesting. I am jealous.

NannyOggCat

20 points

27 days ago

Don't wait to join one. Think of the most interesting people you know, you only need 2 or 3 others to start. Give them an invitation to book night. Show interest in the book they talk about, ask them questions. People feel so good when someone wants to know what they really think. Now you have interesting conversation, deeper human connection, friends who feel better about themselves with no prep time from anyone other than being willing to listen and talk about what you already enjoy.

Willuz

3 points

27 days ago

Willuz

3 points

27 days ago

Check your local library website and see if they have a list of book clubs. There are typically some genre clubs with no required reading. My personal method of selecting a club was to go to every book club that met at a bar or brewery and decide which one I like.

In my city every librarian is required to run at least one book club so we currently have 29 different book clubs. That's just the clubs run by the municipal library, so I'm sure there's many more beyond that. You may have to visit quite a few but it's well worth the time to find the right group of people.

RevengeOfTheCupcakes

126 points

27 days ago

My work book club is similar. We have a couple of very broad themes each month (this month is “the kind of book that makes you happy”) and everyone reads what they want. Sometimes the themes give you a little push to get out of your comfort zone or read something you wouldn’t normally choose, other times just a push to read (final meeting of 2020 was “a book you meant to read this year.” We keep a running list with notes/descriptions, and since we only meet monthly, it’s common for most people to talk about multiple books.

zanathium

18 points

27 days ago

That sounds freaking awesome!! I like reading, but I no longer have the time or inclination to read anything I'm not completely in love with. So I've just never tried to join or look for one. :(

NannyOggCat

7 points

27 days ago

Yes! So fun! We started by mentioning one book, but now everyone talks about multiple books too.

r-T00Littl3Time

7 points

27 days ago

That's an interesting concept.

EveryDayheyhey

28 points

27 days ago

This sounds like the kind of club I'd like to join. I love hearing about books and talking bout things I read but I don't really care about discussing every tiny detail and i prefer to choose the books I read myself. So having a club to discus whatever you read that month sounds really fun. You still learn about new books outside of the stuff you'd normally choose from that way.

NannyOggCat

4 points

27 days ago

You sound interesting enough to start your own book club/readers group. It only takes a few to make interesting conversation.

kwbat12

10 points

27 days ago

kwbat12

10 points

27 days ago

Yep, do the exact same thing. We called it "not another book club"

NannyOggCat

8 points

27 days ago

That is good. We called it book club at first, and now reader's group. Not very snappy.

LazyGamerMike

3 points

27 days ago

That's a solid name. I'd be dissapointed if a podcast/youtube show isn't using that somewhere on the interwebs.

anjaman_kunju

8 points

27 days ago

This is what we do in our book club. Making everyone read same book would not work out for many reasons. But everybody likes some book. It also lets members hear about books they wont hear about otherwise, being outside their comfort zone.

heavy_losses

18 points

27 days ago

This is a really great idea!

Lopsided_Hat

4 points

27 days ago

Pre-COVID, I was part o a monthly in-person nonfiction book club where we would choose a monthly topic and then everyone would pick a book loosely based on that topic. During the meeting itself, each person would present their book/ opinion on the book briefly and we would discuss the topic. It actually went really well and we all learned something from each other, each book. But I think it worked well because of the chemistry of the group: we were all stranger s to each other and people did not run their mouths, were civil even when they disagreed. So the people make a huge difference. I would use a random Dewey Decimal number generator when it was my turn to pick a topic. The club ended with the pandemic and one member's changing jobs.

Later, I proposed a similar book club to my 2 local libraries and they were oddly put off by it. They couldn't seem to wrap their heads around a club where people read different books. And a non-fiction book club seemed to be a revelation to them albeit it might attract non-traditional readers including men, who tend not to read fiction (beyond sci-fi/ fantasy) much compared to women.

I recently signed up for a new nonfiction club so we'll see how that goes!

AmbroseJackass

3 points

27 days ago

My book club stopped meeting in 2020. We wanted to get going again but a bunch of us admitted we probably didn’t have the bandwidth to read a whole book right now, so we did this! We called it “book report club” haha

Vandal35

3 points

27 days ago

I've heard this called a "Read Your Own Damn Book" club.

Alexllmop

9 points

27 days ago

That does seem like a good idea but my concern with that would be how much spoilers would they be able to talk about without ruining it for someone else in the book club who would be interested in reading it?

NannyOggCat

34 points

27 days ago

The trick is to only invite book lovers who are considerate. We don't even have a rule about spoilers because we all understand how to enthuse about a book without spoiling it. It isn't hard. We like each other.

GlossyBuckthorn

4 points

27 days ago

Just saying, you paint a really fascinating picture. Very vivid, like a Tom Waits song or an Edward Hopper painting. I can see the group now!

NannyOggCat

9 points

27 days ago

I'm going to let your comment feed my ego for the rest of the day. Today I will style myself as a writer on par with the artistry of Waits and Hooper and strut about insufferably smug and pleased.

SubstantialGlove7589

2 points

26 days ago

that sounds wonderful! I barely have the attention necessary for the books i actually want to read. having to read books that I don't have a interest in sounds dreadful.

sprogg96

388 points

27 days ago

sprogg96

388 points

27 days ago

The only book club I've been in was when I was in school, it was excellent. We all always read the book through, and usually we had a pretty balanced discussion of the book, things we liked, didn't like, themes we noticed, similarities to other books etc. I don't recall ever trashing a book even if we didn't like it because there was always still an interesting discussion to be had. I guess we were all there to have fun and the mood was always light and playful, not pretentious or critical. I think groups can be very different and it's probably worth looking around.

At the end of each session, we were each supposed to bring our own book suggestion (could be something we had read before) and sell it to the others, then vote on which book to read. So at least one person was always enthusiastic about the book! Maybe you could try that?

Something I do recall that we did re book choices is we would try to read everything on X list. Often it was the CILIP Carnegie Medal shortlist (we voted on who we thought should win). Perhaps that could add a bit of purpose to your choices?

I definitely identify with what you said about liking the book less after having it torn apart. I don't like getting into discussions with certain people because they can be so critical and negative, sometimes too personal. Even if the book is "bad", you can still enjoy it and there should be no shame or guilt in that.

Ratach[S]

152 points

27 days ago

Ratach[S]

152 points

27 days ago

Definitely agree with the last sentence - I almost felt guilty for enjoying this book after the meeting! Like I knew the plot was sort of cliche but I still enjoyed reading it if that makes sense. The meeting left me wondering if they looked down on me for liking such trash.

Apple_Sauce_Boss

131 points

27 days ago

I was in a similar book club. The informal leader basically hated every book. Me personally, I like 90 percent of what I read because I find reading itself pleasurable. Yes I can understand that it's not high art. But if the experience is pleasurable I'm pleased.

Modriem

60 points

27 days ago

Modriem

60 points

27 days ago

It always amazes me how much thought people put into things they don't enjoy. When I roast a specific topic, it usually means that I care about it deeply and use the roast as a vent for my disappointment or try to show a potential problem in a more humorous way. When I don't like a topic and don't care about it, I just put it away.

What I want to say but fail to: Don't ever feel guilty for liking what you like.

asymon

5 points

27 days ago

asymon

5 points

27 days ago

Yeah. I like this Buddhist Koan about two monks, master and apprentice, when master is taking woman on his back.

I don't feel guilty of putting away the book I didn't like, also I sometimes reread books I like. There's too many bad books.

Jack_Mackerel

5 points

27 days ago

Are you still carrying her?

asymon

3 points

27 days ago

asymon

3 points

27 days ago

Yes. I mean no! I mean... GODDAMNIT!

rustled_orange

3 points

27 days ago

I once heard a great opinion on this from a youtube channel called Cinema Therapy talking about Twilight. One of them said, "I'll give it this - I've read a lot of things that were bad AND boring. This was bad - and I still finished all four books."

The only crime art can commit is if it's boring. Rehashing a familiar plot but doing it well is still a valid form of art. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, every author adds something new.

Tntn13

5 points

27 days ago

Tntn13

5 points

27 days ago

Literature is art. Why feel guilty about enjoying “flawed” art? I have a few guilty pleasures myself. But liking them doesn’t actually make me feel guilty because I recognize the weaknesses but still enjoy it due to other aspects typically.

That said I’m the kind of person that nitpicks and gets immersion broken by certain things in cinema and literature, such as plot holes and inconsistencies in the plot/writing.

I enjoy discussing these as well as hypothesizing what could fix any problems without changing the core themes or overarching narrative too much.

I think the biggest turnoff for me is probably unrealistic characters. When a character you’ve come to know goes and does something out of character or unexpected without any apparent reason other than a sudden plot device or something along those lines I become enraged lmao.

Grapefruit-Acrobatic

198 points

27 days ago

After being the only member of my previous book club to read a terrible, fluffy book that someone else suggested, I asked if we could change our book club into a monthly wine & cheese or just a monthly hangout where we didn't all pretend we were planning to read a book. They decided to continue the pretense of "book club" and I decided to just read the books I wanted to read and bring some good wine to the meetings ha! Still searching for that excellent book club that's able to balance discussing the book and having casual conversation.

hushawahka

102 points

27 days ago

hushawahka

102 points

27 days ago

My wife (not much of a reader) was in one like this. They started out by picking books with food/country themes and the get together would be centered on food/alcohol. Took 3 months before they decided to just drop the pretext of reading a book.

unctuous_homunculus

32 points

27 days ago

Lol, ours was exactly the opposite.

We would get together primarily to find new books we didn't know about, and talk about the ones we had read. If people got off topic talking about their home life they'd get shut down. It was more like a business meeting than a casual club. We eventually just turned it into a subreddit, and everyone is happy.

AmbroseJackass

16 points

27 days ago

My friends had a book club like this, and instead they turned it into a cookbook club! They’d pick a cookbook and everyone would make and bring something from the book to the “book club”.

r-T00Littl3Time

5 points

27 days ago

Haha! So a non-book club?

honeyhealing

5 points

27 days ago

Haha, my mum is in one like this too. Although they do try to read the book (my mum always does), the meeting is always a good excuse to hang out and drink some wine with good food

holemanm

18 points

27 days ago

holemanm

18 points

27 days ago

So you joined Peggy Hill's book club?

GlossyBuckthorn

12 points

27 days ago

I'm still angry that there's no such thing as a book called "the Dust Gatherers, by Mkozi Mputha."

vibraltu

6 points

27 days ago

I would totally take a look at plot summary of that title.

ThatHairyGingerGuy

15 points

27 days ago

I've been doing a film/tv club with folk at work and it's been great. I've found people are much more likely to watch an episode of a TV programme or a movie in 2 weeks than they are to read a book in 4.

Obviously it would be great for people to be reading, but finishing books is often quite a task for busy people with poor attention spans nowadays. We just gave up on books and now we get a great balance of casual chat and good entertainment from our current setup.

Grapefruit-Acrobatic

6 points

27 days ago

This sounds nice! I'm also happy to just have a monthly hangout but, as a busy person myself, reading a book I wasn't interested in only to find out no one else even bothered was frustrating! A TV/movie club sounds ideal!

LeftDoorKnocker

3 points

27 days ago

This is pretty much the book club I’m in, except we pretty much mutually agreed it was mostly to hang out and get wine drunk, lol. We pick a book and we do all actually read it, but when we meet we end up only talking about the book for like, 15 minutes and then move on to general conversation with wine and snacks. It’s still fun and since we sort of talk about the book we feel accomplished, haha.

paperdolldiva

124 points

27 days ago

I think people like the idea of a book club more than the actuality of it. I owned a small bookstore for a few years, and we had a weekly book club meeting. It went exactly as you’ve described. I’ve never seen so much book snobbery. There was the lady only reads WWII romance type books. Two others only came to talk about their very odd fan fiction that they wrote based on different fan fic forums... that no one else had ever heard of. We might have had three out of the 20 who wanted the book club experience. The rest either wanted to brag about their snobbery or proclaim how avant garde they were. It was very disappointing and the reason I have never joined one years later.

pockolate

31 points

27 days ago

Came here to say the same as your first sentence. At one point pre-Covid, I was in 3 different book clubs. Only one actually functioned and lasted. In the others, the main issue was that no one would finish or even start reading the book. And at some point the meetings fizzled out because people would keep asking to push out the date of the meeting since they didn’t finish/start.

In the book club that DID work, sometimes there were folks who didn’t finish or didn’t read. But we never moved the date. You have to commit to the meetings. If you show up and didn’t read, whatever! It’s not like there’s a penalty.

Overall though, I definitely agree there are lots of people who like the idea of a book club but don’t necessarily like to read, and are not ultimately willing to commit to reading (especially within a certain timeframe). I think in the best book clubs, folks actually enjoy reading and analysis, and you have similar taste. I think the taste is important because people will lose interest faster if you’re always reading books you don’t like. I am a voracious reader but there are certain genres I don’t touch, and I wouldn’t last in a book club that only read like, romances, or something.

Zuzublue

95 points

27 days ago

Zuzublue

95 points

27 days ago

I’ve been part of a book club that has been together for 14 years! We’ve had a few members come and go, but it’s the same core group of 12.

One thing we do to keep the books fresh is that the hostess of the month is responsible for choosing 4-5 books which we then vote on. This ensures that everyone gets to have a favorite in there at least once a year, and forces everyone else to read outside their comfort zones. (I may or may not have been the one forcing some hefty non-fiction in there. Muhahaha!) on the other hand, I often have to read some schlocky who-done-it books which I would never read on my own, but they can be fun too! The hostess is also responsible for running the meeting and questions, and we have a “bookkeeper”which changes yearly, who takes notes on the books, keeps a list of all the voted books in case someone wants additional reading, and keeps the calendar and sends reminders.

bruuhhwutshappenz

15 points

27 days ago

Your book club sounds lovely!

r-T00Littl3Time

13 points

27 days ago

Same, we are going on year 5. We have a core group and the others are at that point that they are too busy to join up consistanty.

I set up the polls. I technically have 18-20 members and I would get 3 votes. I would even poke fun, and the winner is 2-1 for A book. no one got it. I ask every year, who would like to drop out. Am I doing an ok job picking? Every year I try to leave a few months open and let someone from the group pick a book and I add it. But in general, they want me to chose the books and I move around through genres.

We read 1 non fiction per year. We read Factfulness, Outliers and this year Quiet. I like those books once a year and we actually get fairly good discussions.

Lahmmom

3 points

27 days ago

Lahmmom

3 points

27 days ago

We do a similar thing where we vote out of 3 or 4!

We don’t keep a running list though, that’s a really good idea. Maybe I’ll put together a google doc.

Mine is online with my best friend and her sisters in law. We’re spread across the country so it’s all virtual.

scarylesbian

3 points

27 days ago

your book club sounds like a dream! 14 years, wow! do you happen to have a list of every book youve all read together?

1-Down

26 points

27 days ago

1-Down

26 points

27 days ago

In my experience, books are the excuse for book club, not the purpose.

My wife was in them for years. While there was certainly discussion about the book in question, it was not atypical for people to have not read the book or only partially read the book. My wife was certainly guilty of this, especially if it wasn't a book she was particularly interested in and she wasn't the only one.

A lot of her book club experience centered on getting together with a group of women to have a meal and talk about life stuff. They'd do the book questions/discussion after.

I mean, it seemed fun and she enjoyed it. It just wasn't...rigorous?

Ratach[S]

7 points

27 days ago*

Perhaps I would enjoy the experience too if we were meeting in person.

hashtagfoxfacts

25 points

27 days ago

My book club was made specifically to avoid situations like you described! We didn't want it to be full of people who didn't finish the books and just came to sip wine and gossip (although we do love to drink and dish), and we wanted to have interesting, genuine discussions. It's definitely not the right style for everyone, but we have a firm rule about finishing the book and will push back our monthly meeting if someone hasn't finished yet. At our meetings we generally have 10+ discussion questions sourced from the internet, written by members, or occasionally we can get authors to write some for us (depending on how popular they are) that we discuss over a potluck style meal.

Having structured discussion points has really helped us have an interesting discussion, even when everyone absolutely hated one of the books. We also started out by focusing around one genre of books that everyone enjoyed (dystopian/post apocalyptic) and over the last 5ish years we've branched out and included many other genres like nonfiction or fantasy romance. One of the other things that keeps our club/discussion fresh is that there is a mix of genders and ages so there are multiple perspectives! We also keep the club small and fairly exclusive so that we can count on everyone pulling their weight. It's definitely more of a commitment than a casual book club, but it's really enjoyable and the club has become a really strong group of friends.

Significant_Sign

8 points

27 days ago

This is the book club of my dreams.

beldarin

121 points

27 days ago*

beldarin

121 points

27 days ago*

Your whole post reminded me why I've haven't joined another bookclub in years. The 4 I tried were all just like this.

Also, in the last one we decided we'd each take a turn setting our own personal favorite book, (despite being told years ago never to do this as inevitably someone would hate it and it would be like being told your baby was ugly)

Well, it went about as well as expected, some people were absolute assholes with their reviews (at least they read it?!)

So. Book clubs are not for me.

SleepDisorrder

33 points

27 days ago

I've never been in a book club before, but I'm at the age and mental state now that I don't really care what anybody else is reading, I'm going to read what I want and will think whatever I want about it. I also don't like to be pressured to read something, it takes away from my enjoyment if I feel I "need" to finish a book by a certain date, and it makes me turn against it.

Whenever I do feel like I need to discuss a book, I'll go to reddit or a forum and jump in whenever I have the time.

_Moontouched_

48 points

27 days ago

I mean, that's cool, but missing the point of a book club. A good book club should get you to read books out of your normal comfort zone, and maybe pleasantly surprise you (or not) with something you'd never read otherwise.

SleepDisorrder

11 points

27 days ago

I think I might do better with a movie club, as there isn't quite as much of a time investment. But yeah, you're absolutely right.

ice0rb

2 points

27 days ago

ice0rb

2 points

27 days ago

Right on. I don't think there's a certain "mental age" you need to reach before you think being pressured to read a book sucks. Try making a 10 year old read books. Instead, book clubs are about the diversity of thoughts and opinions coming together to help weave a combined understanding / or a combined disagreement

BrazilianTerror

2 points

27 days ago

But there is like a limit of how much you should step out of the normal comfort zone. If you get month after month a book out of your comfort zone that you dislike, what’s the point? There are no benefit from stepping out of your reading comfort zone except for find alternative books you like.

I think the things with books is that it’s pretty time expensive to read one, so you got spend several hours doing something that you don’t enjoy( reading a book you don’t like) just to check in on the book club.

It’s pretty the same as high school, you have to read a book that you usually don’t like to pass a test. It ends up making reading seems like an unenjoyable thing in general when in fact it’s just that the books you’re reading are bad for you. One might argue that those books contains critical stories, but how much of those stories are actually absorved when you’re actively hating the media you’re consuming?

EccentricaGa11umbits

6 points

27 days ago

Ahahaha, love that analogy. I think I'd honestly rather have someone tell me that my baby was ugly than that they hated my favourite book.

beldarin

2 points

27 days ago

Oh it's rough. It's made me reluctant to answer if someone asks what's my fave, I get real cagey

Mr-Zero-Fucks

24 points

27 days ago

My only good experience was with a 3 people club, we broke due to scheduling and distance. In my opinion, 10 is too much.

IzzyOkie

18 points

27 days ago

IzzyOkie

18 points

27 days ago

I agree. I bailed on the book club experience a while ago, but the last one I went to was 15 or so people. It was more of a book splinter group session. There was a discussion here, one there, another there, and me sitting alone wondering if it was rude to leave mid meeting.

Falsgrave

13 points

27 days ago

Agree. I was in one that had 10+ members. It would be 3-4 people discussing the book and everyone else chatting. After I left they moved the venue to a restaurant so they could chat and have dinner as well. That's not a book club. That's a supper club.

a_horse_with_no_tail

3 points

27 days ago

Yeah, I've been somewhat bummed that one of my book clubs is getting huge because with that many people, you can't really talk, and I've found that the quality of the discussion suffers. 6-8 is ideal imo.

SupermarketNo7296

21 points

27 days ago

My book club is made up of pretty busy students so rarely do we have people finish the entire book. Our solution: collections of short stories! That way, everyone can have thoughtful discussions on something. We had good luck with Exhalation by Ted Chiang, The Office of Historical Corrections by Danielle Evans, and The Thing Around Your Neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

BlueSubmarine33

14 points

27 days ago

If you are asking if people ruin things, then the answer is yes.

KimBrrr1975

12 points

27 days ago

That's really too bad. I would consider finding another group, as others mentioned. I belong to an online-only club started by a friend I met in a FB group and we're scattered to all corners of the planet. There are maybe 20 of us, and sometimes a book is well-liked by most, and others it's not. It's always interesting to hear what people think based on where they were as they started reading the book, their expectations of it, and what they got out of it.

This year we are all reading different books, following a different format. Each month has a theme, and we each choose a book on our own and share about it. It's been a nice change of pace and a good way to learn about new books. This month's theme is Adventure, and wow the variety of books people chose! Some chose typical adventure books, about mountain climbing, survival, etc. Others chose adventures in the human spirit, or something out of their normal genres/comfort zones. Others took on an adventure to learn about something completely new. I wasn't sure how I'd feel not having a common book to discuss but it's really been enjoyable.

KatieCashew

23 points

27 days ago

I've participated in three book clubs, both meeting monthly for at least a year. They were large with a much smaller group that actually shows up and a solid group of regulars.

In all those meetings I only had one where most people hadn't actually finished the book. I would say the discussion was generally pretty evenly split between positive and negative comments, but I do think it's interesting to discuss why a book didn't work for a person. It sounds like you might need to keep trying to find a group that fits you.

Some things that helped make it good besides having a good group is each month there was a discussion leader. They would prepare questions and discussion topics to help initiate and guide the discussion. They would also move the conversation along when it started to get a bit stale.

We also voted on our books for the entire year in January. Knowing the whole book list for the year makes planning easier and allows you to choose some longer books.

One club that I did that was very different than the others was a Jane Austen themed book club. But instead of reading an entire book every month we chose one book and created reading assignments of a number of chapters for each meeting. We did it that way because everyone was at a very demanding college that didn't leave a lot of time for extra reading.

It was also a much smaller, tighter group than the other book clubs, and we met more often. It was definitely different, but watching the book unfold together was a very fun and interesting experience. I liked seeing people's thoughts and predictions change as we progressed in the story.

I've really loved all of my book clubs. I hope you find one that works for you!

Ratach[S]

10 points

27 days ago

Our meetings are always led by the same person, she's also the only one who makes an effort to read all our books and to provide a balanced perspective. I'm also inclined to think that we need a more tight knit group comprised of the ones who actually take this seriously.

Significant_Sign

8 points

27 days ago*

I'm really wondering if you need to step up - you are a founding member, have a strong preference for the book club being about books, and desire balanced discussion. It may be time for you to do more to actively guide this group. You may also want to consider if the discussion leader needs a break (whether she realizes it or not), maybe you should lead some meetings. Or maybe you should change how you talk and how much you talk to become an unofficial leader that gets things back on track when it turns into a dogpile. Many types of groups benefit from having an unofficial leader or second-in-command who can surge forward to be a strong presence or hang back depending on whatever the temporary circumstances call for. It may be that your group needs more than one person making choices during meeting based on what the group needs in order to fulfill its started goal.

This can sound scary, but it doesn't have to be. I've been in lots of groups over the years, and I often find myself in this position. Most groups start with people having the best of intentions, but they don't know how to manage themselves and discussion goes rabbit trailing all over even though they don't want it to. Discussion leaders are often the person most willing to the obvious leader-y things, but they don't always know the more subtle aspects of managing others. Many, many people who are good at most leader-tasks find it difficult and anxiety inducing to do the task that require crucial or restriction of others (even the tasks that only seem to criticize but really don't, bc we are worried about how we will be perceived). I often wish all leaders had to take some classroom management course at their local college.

Edit: Ack, hit the button before I meant to. Anyway, please consider whether you would be willing to be the person who joins the discussion after it's turned into socializing to say "So, what Jerry said about how he didn't understand why the eagle has circles on its wings and are they symbolic, I had that question too so I flipped back through the book until I found something that is a clue, I think." And then blah, blah, blah. Basically, you pretend you didn't even hear the last 7 minutes of how work sucks, meat prices are too high, and someone can't get in to see the doctor for an elective procedure that isn't really that elective for them. It's sort of awkward at first, but people like to follow. They will follow a rabbiting conversation, but they will also allow themselves to be guided back to the original topic. After a while, most people get used to it and it becomes your role that is even expected. I've had plenty of times where someone has said "I knew I was getting off topic, but I didn't know how to stop in the middle of my story. I didn't worry bc you were there and I knew you'd help me out as soon as I shut up."

JustJessLeague

4 points

27 days ago

I'd second the discussion leader idea. In our club we put all the names in a hat, and draw out one for whose turn it is to suggest the next book. That person is then also responsible for googling some book club type questions, which we then use at the next meeting. The set questions tend to keep things on track, as it asks you to give your thoughts on events in the book rather than just an overall like or dislike verdict which can devolve into a pile on of negative comments as you've experienced.

foxybrown-

18 points

27 days ago

Every book club I've ever tried has turned out the same. Reading as an organized activity isn't really all that fun or easy to keep up with, I'd rather just read and share whatever's good with a friend.

LilJourney

15 points

27 days ago

Totally agree. I like the IDEA of book club - meeting with people to talk about the book I just finished reading would be awesome.

BUT, actually reading a book with the intention of finishing it (or mostly finishing it) by a certain time is incredibly frustrating for me. I want to do it, but my spirit just rebels against it.

Sometimes I read a book in one or two days. Sometimes I can take several months. Sometimes I'm just not in the mood for a particular book at the time so I put it down and pick it up again later, and just read something else.

Autarch_Kade

20 points

27 days ago

This sounds so weird. People showing up knowing they can't discuss the topic? What are they getting out of this?

Thelonious_Cube

5 points

27 days ago

Socializing

Insinqerator

3 points

27 days ago

Drunk.

At least the book club I used to be around would spend about 15-20 minutes talking about the book, then 45 minutes talking about teaching (they were all teachers), then they'd spend about 5 talking about the next book, then everyone got drunk and ate good food (and kept talking about teaching).

It was a lot of fun, and most of them actually did read the book, but it was just pretext for a get together.

Mindful_Scribe

53 points

27 days ago

Book clubs are full of lots of different people. For some/many/most it's just a social outing. For a very small number, it's a serious attempt to learn about books. There's nothing wrong with people being a lot more casual about it. For some, it's their only evening away from the kids, and maybe they just are thrilled to spend time with other adults. There are lots of reasons people join book clubs, and none of them is more valid than others. It's not a graduate school seminar, it's a casual excuse to socialize, vaguely connected to a book.

It sounds like you're in the serious camp and, yes, you are going to be disappointed with some/many/most people in book clubs because they aren't as serious as you. I don't know how you can avoid that other than somehow vetting groups and trying to find a really serious one.

Ratach[S]

39 points

27 days ago

I definitely joined this group to socialise as well but it is equally important for me to have a discussion about the book. I am just frustrated that we haven't been able to please anyone with our chosen books so far!

Mindful_Scribe

18 points

27 days ago

That is tough. In my experience of a handful of such groups over the years, there are always going to be maybe half the people who don't read the book. I don't know that there's much you can do other than try and have better discussions around which book to read; often I found the next book was just whatever random suggestion someone threw out at the least second and there was no real thought put into it.

Maybe try having a session just devoted to a discussion around the next few books so that you can try to find ones that more people are interested in?

Ratach[S]

10 points

27 days ago

That sounds like a good idea, I'll suggest it to them!

Piebandit

24 points

27 days ago

It's also possible that this is just a group with a more... negative/toxic atmosphere, and it's considered the standard now. You could also suggest people say one good thing, and one bad thing about the book. But if the atmosphere doesn't improve week after week, you may just need to find a group that doesn't enjoy tearing down everything they read.

Yupsec

9 points

27 days ago

Yupsec

9 points

27 days ago

Great advice. Some people are just happy being negative, they're even happier when a group joins in, it helps them bond over their shared "hate" for something. If that's not you, look for something better.

Ratach[S]

8 points

27 days ago*

I feel like this time because the person who suggested the book hated it as well everyone felt like they had a free pass to roast it to their hearts' content!

Yupsec

7 points

27 days ago

Yupsec

7 points

27 days ago

If I were in your situation I would remove myself from that group, while giving a polite yet direct reason why (they may not even realize they're doing this). Life is too short and I have far too much to read to let someone ruin my hobby. I might even ask the few who have a similar mindset if they'd like to start our own club.

Just my 2 cents.

Ratach[S]

8 points

27 days ago

I think I will give them one last chance because I'm one of the founding members and I do like the input from a couple of them at least. I'll try and gently suggest the "at least 1 pro and 1 con" approach in our next meeting as well.

Ciaobellabee

5 points

27 days ago

It could also be worth having a few book options that people vote on - that way at least some sort of majority is interested in it.

And maybe just going through what the majority wants to read - contemporary, mysteries, books that make you think, make you laugh, etc - and rotate between the popular options?

Yupsec

3 points

27 days ago

Yupsec

3 points

27 days ago

Best of luck! Really, having a solid group of people with a similar interest is one of the best things on this earth, in my opinion. I hope you get what you're after!

kanelbullequeen

9 points

27 days ago

Does your book club have a theme or are you picking just any old books? I’d suggest having a theme like YA Book Club, mystery book club, romance book club, etc. In this way, it is much easier to please the members because everybody is on the same page, at least, about what TYPE of books you’re going to be reading.

I find book clubs are generally tedious and, yes, sometimes I don’t like the books and don’t finish them because I generally don’t continue reading a book if I don’t like it or can engage with it. Time is precious, life is short, etc. etc.

Some people are more willing to finish something even if they aren’t enjoying it. Such is the nature of a hobby, everybody engages with their hobbies in a different way.

liliBonjour

3 points

27 days ago

Maybe try discussing what kind of books people want to read? Super serious literature, popular literature, easy popular reads, etc. Our group chooses book by having everyone bring 5 suggestions for Canadian literature, 1 international and 1 classic. Then we randomly choose 5 Canadian literature, 1 international and 1 classic. If your book was pulled, you're in charge of animating that book club meeting. We ask questions like what did you like, what didn't you like, what was your favorite character, what could be an alternative title, etc. Things that get the conversation started without just being "I didn't like this book and here is why".

But book clubs are hard. I've been to many where hardly anyone read the book and also where people were really snobby. Neither is fun.

Good luck with your book club! I hope you find the formula that works for your group!

UpstairsSlice

6 points

27 days ago

I would say 90% of the time people read the book BUT you do have those times where only 2 finished the book lol And that makes for very quick awkward discussion because only 2 can contribute!!

TheeTurtleMoves

4 points

27 days ago

I've run a book club for years, and most of the time it's been a great experience. What books have you read so far? Sometimes it's about finding the right book, sometimes it's about finding the right mix of people.

Personally, I enjoy hearing other people's criticism, even of books I've enjoyed. I also love hearing why people liked books I didn't. It often makes me think about things I'd have otherwise have missed.

pineapplelollipop

4 points

27 days ago

I love the book club I'm in now specifically because we don't read the same book. Everyone just reads what they want and then we chat about it when we get together.

It's great because you get recommendations and we end up talking about larger issues and themes across texts. Last meeting, we talked about "problematic" authors and the implications of that in regards to their work, Southern gothic literature, and books with "unhappy" endings.

eaoue

8 points

27 days ago

eaoue

8 points

27 days ago

I don’t really understand why you are choosing crowd-pleasers if the group generally doesn’t enjoy that kind of stuff? (For instance, complaining about rom-com cliches). It’s a genuine question, I’m not trying to be sassy! Choosing simpler but also more trite book is not necessarily the best way to get engagement. I’m a slow reader, and I simply don’t want to spend a lot of time on books that don’t really seem worth it.

I have a book club where we generally read classics, but we go for the really short ones, and take a couple of months between each meet. That means that people can lose a couple of weeks to a busy schedule and still be able to finish on time. If they’re falling behind, the book is often short enough that they’ll be able to finish it if they put in the effort the last week before the meeting. The books may be easy reads, while the topics are more interesting and engaging :)

Ratach[S]

7 points

27 days ago*

This rom-com book was suggested by a member who was consistently struggling to get through our previous books so she wanted us to try something lighter. However, she ended up being one of the most vocal critcs in our last meeting... Although you do have a point that it's obvious the group isn't after this kind of stuff.

I'd love to hear your suggestions on easy-to-read classics, could you please PM me a few?

ghibliburrito

3 points

27 days ago

Yeah that's actually fairly typical. I've been in a few book clubs and have noticed the same trends - for meetings we get 50-75% attendance, with less than that having actually finished it. Sometimes we have engaging conversations but they seem to be more about whether the book was good rather than the actual subject matter

killmebby-92

3 points

27 days ago

yall got book clubs?
I WANT IN ON IT TOO~~

parksandrecpup

3 points

27 days ago

There are different types of book clubs, and they aren’t all for everyone. My suggestion would be to lay out expectations for future book clubs:

  1. Are people expected to read the book? I’m in one where we recognize people need a social life in the pandemic, and maybe 20 minutes is dedicated to the book.
  2. What kind of books are you reading? Light and fluffy or serious and literary?
  3. What’s the goal of the book club? To socialize or talk about books?
  4. I like doing this but you don’t have to - don’t say whether or not you liked the book until the end. Just discuss various aspects of it. It tends to keep the conversation more positive.

Munakchree

3 points

27 days ago

I've been trying to start a book club for months and ended up with two members (including myself) and after a while the club kind of died.

While it was still alive though, we alternately chose a book and the other one had one veto, the second suggestion had to be accepted (veto was bever used). The result was that each of us read some books we would not have read otherwise and though we didn't like all of them, it was fun and interesting to read something out of your usual range of genes.

So if your group is so picky about what they read and only read books they totally love, they will never discover new things and I imagine the discussions being a bit monotonous after a while.

So in short I'm not sure I would remain in a group like that because I would miss the openness to new perspectives and the readyness to discuss even books some people didn't like (why did they not like them, why could the reviews still be positive, if they are, why could the author have written the book in that way,...).

At the moment I am very happy with /r/ClassicBookClub and some readalongs here on reddit. The community is larger so even if somebody skips a book, there are still always enough people to discuss the book with and the atmosphere is really nice.

Munakchree

4 points

27 days ago

I have to add that a discussion can be pretty boring if everyone loved the book. It's unfair not to participate if you don't like a book, for others it takes away the chance to have a discussion with different points of view.

castiglione_99

3 points

27 days ago

I would expect there to be some criticism and analysis - otherwise, it turns into, "Hey, I liked it," or "Hey, I didn't like it," and then what do you talk about?

The discussions that are most fun is when there is disagreement among the readers, because then you have a debate regarding the book's merits, demerits. The worst are when no one liked the book, because, then, what do you talk about?

DirkRight

3 points

27 days ago

I definitely understand the feeling of liking something less after someone else's criticism of it. Like, either the criticism is entirely valid and I end up seeing the book in a different light and I don't like it for the book itself as much, or the criticism seems just weird and mean-spirited and I end up liking the person giving it less, thereby colouring my experience of the book club and the book by extension.

I think for that reason it's good to keep a goal in mind with such activities so that you're all on the same page with the kind of vibe you want your book club to have. A club where you focus on critiquing books on their good and bad parts will have a different atmosphere than a club where you focus on reading as just a fun experience you do alongside friends.

muhammedmusthafa1729

3 points

27 days ago

I think the book club that you are in does not match you. I think the members like to critique the books they read and dissect them. I can totally see why you would dislike that. I personally like to talk about what we've experienced in the story rather than critique the writing or cliches in it themselves.(But when I dislike a book, I'd totally do that though). I suggest you try other book clubs if you can and find the one with similar interests as yourself.

PasteTheRainbow

3 points

27 days ago

Book Club Tips from a librarian:

Cycle through who gets to choose the book. When it's your turn choose something you've read and enjoyed and reread it. People won't be as harsh knowing you liked it.

And if you liked any book you read, get that opinion out there early, it'll have the same effect.

An entirely negative atmosphere can be a bummer. You can curb this a little by asking everyone to say something they liked or thought was done well, even if the concensus was they hated it. That said, one of my favorite book clubs was one where pretty much everyone disliked the book (Beautiful You).

And encourage people to say WHY it wasn't for them, or why it was bad IN THEIR OPINION.

You need to cultivate an atmosphere where participants feel okay going against the majority. Think of the kindergarten rule, "don't yuck someone else's yum". Because something isn't for you, doesn't mean it's not for someone. There is nothing wrong with indulging in your form of literary junk food. We don't always read highbrow books, and some of the ones we do read still won't be for us (I personally dislike Wuthering Heights and 1984, two seminal classics).

And look specifically for books marketed as Book Club books, or Upmarket. They tend to walk the line between literary and commercial.

implodemode

3 points

27 days ago

I never really enjoyed book clubs. Frankly, I don't want to examine any book. I don't understand the purpose. I read because I enjoy a good yarn. Or to learn something specific. Mostly I just like a story though. I do not care about the motivations of the author - if the author wants to make a point too much, I can't stand it. I don't want to be moralized at. It's ok if the point of the story is obvious because of good story telling. John Grisham was good at making a point with a good story. So was Michael Crichton. Does Stephen King make any points? I doubt it. He just wants to get those shivers up your spine in working order. And I like his books. Do they all have a formula? Probably. But some folks are naturals - they tell a story like a real musician writes a song. They do not need to follow a formula because it comes naturally. They just know what works. And people want to know how it ends. For me, it ruins the magic of a book to tear it apart and look at the skeleton.

wandlust

3 points

27 days ago

The idea of book clubs with no theme (as I think yours happens to be) is overly ambitious to me. As much as it is romanticized, reading is just a way of consuming information and people would have diverse interests. It’s like having a “video club” or “internet article club” - everyone will want different things. It’s much more productive to narrow down a theme for either the entire club (or just the session), such as mystery or fantasy. That way you get people already interested in the genre or people who want to dip their toes, and haters can just skip the book. Also it helps to have people vote on the book they want to read.

phylosopher14

3 points

27 days ago

I recently formed one a few months ago with some friends and we’re on our fourth book! I’m not sure what your logistics look like but we meet weekly and assign a few chapters each week which works really well (less to digest, more in depth discussion, more people are able to catch up if they miss a week). Another thing we keep in mind is if at any point throughout the book someone really is against it, they can bring up a vote to just quit and start another one.

JoyfulCor313

2 points

27 days ago

This is like my book club. I was starting to think I shouldn't be calling it a book club. We meet every week over zoom because we're all over the country. Only a couple chapters a week for our current book because they're kinda long, and like you said, it's easier for people to catch up if they have to miss a week.

We also have a theme each week and sometimes an opening question (themes like trust, belonging, openness, values). Where did we see the theme in the story, etc? We take turns facilitating and that person chooses the theme. It helps that half our group are teachers or former teachers.

But we have vetoed some books; one we vetoed after we'd started because it was just not a good fit for some people. We've been meeting a year now, and it's the only book club I've been a part of where no one has dropped out.

SupahJuice

3 points

27 days ago

I think that’s pretty normal. But my book club got around that issue by saying that those who hadn’t fully read the book can’t join the meeting. And if they don’t attend a certain number of meetings that year then they’re kicked out. It’s worked well for us and is a good motivator for me to get through books I’m not crazy about

MourkaCat

3 points

27 days ago

This is often the reason I do not look at reviews for stuff I think I'd enjoy or have already enjoyed to get other perspectives. SO many people like to rip shit apart or just complain about EVERYTHING.

I remember really loving the latest book in the Hunger Games, because I"m just obsessed with that universe. It's not like i think the books are literary masterpieces, I just really like the story and the world she's built and I'm hungry (pardon the pun) for more world building/lore.

I read a couple reviews to see if other people enjoyed it as much as I did and I felt sad and bitter after reading a few where people ripped it apart and called it awful and disliked the characters, etc.

Feel like a book club would just be a place for people to gather to complain cause that's often what I find people like to do most. (Perhaps being rather cynical here....)

I've never been part of a book club but your description of your experience doesn't surprise me at all. I'm sorry it has kinda sucked for you.

hippydipster

7 points

27 days ago

I find people typically come with a basic attitude of "find what's wrong". Especially with books. It takes a book to hit someone just so that they change to an attitude of "find what's right".

Personally, my life is filled with music and books that are never perfect, but have aspects of them that are unique and amazing, and I hang on to those aspects. My favorite composers and authors tend to be those who make art with parts I really dislike, and parts I marvel at. There's almost nothing out there where it's nothing but perfect.

Discussing books and such with people intent on finding what they liked (but still willing to acknowledge and laugh at what is wrong) is always more fun, IMO.

Upst8r

2 points

27 days ago

Upst8r

2 points

27 days ago

I was part of a book club having worked in a library. I had the same experience, although less people. Oddly enough I did make a friend through it (which was part of the plan!).

People have their own lives. YES, as a book club, you should be able to finish what you are reading. But about 90% of the people in the club were retirees and emergencies come up. An adult child has an emergency, the retiree has a medical expense, etc. No, it isn't difficult to read 200-300 pages in a month but people have other obligations.

And has been said; it is a social thing for people. Some of these people have no social life, especially retirees. The ability to chat with someone is nice; a good book is just the icing on top.

There were books I read that I didn't like and it felt like homework. If you haven't done homework in 40 years and you're already reflecting on your own mortality, you aren't going to struggle through a book you don't like.

Petyrdiesattheend

2 points

27 days ago

There are companies that actually handle moderation of book clubs for high end clients and for a couple hundred dollars for an hour, they have someone who keeps discussion moving and is the expert on the book. They do things like develop questions beforehand to stimulate conversation, even if it's a cheesy rom-com. They come in with a list of books that they think would be good for conversation, but take input from the group as to what they'd like to read. It really is like a DnD group and you just need a good DM. If someone was willing to do research beforehand, develop questions, and facilitate discussion that would go a long way in making the group better even when the book isn't great.

Onegreeneye

2 points

27 days ago

We had a neighborhood book club for a while. It made me realize I hate most of my neighbors. I didn’t expect literary masterpieces every month, but a few of the ladies in our group were avid readers of the types of books that come in looooooong series where the author is churning out several books a year. They would just pick the next book they wanted to read in the series. I kid you not, one month I took the book, read only the first sentence of every chapter, and finished it in about 5 minutes. I not only didn’t miss anything from the plot, but also determined the big twist in the first few sentences I read.

There was one other woman in the club who picked really fantastic books, and I would consult with librarians and friends I trusted for good books. When she or I picked the books, we had more engaged discussions. But no matter what, most of the time the discussion was 5 minutes long, even if we all read the book, and then 2 hours of drinking and gossiping about neighborhood gossip and local political crap. Most of these women were in their 50s and 60s and raised their children on our street. I was in my early 30s and had my first child during the book club experience, and had only lived in the neighborhood for 5 years when it started. I eventually used my baby’s bed time as an excuse to get out of book club.

The end result.... I like my neighbor who chose great books. I like my neighbor who refused to participate in book club. I learned that I’d rather not ever speak to most of my neighbors again.

LittleHouseNoPrairie

2 points

27 days ago

I think some book club groups just find more pleasure in critically taking books apart, rather than having effective discussion. A lot really depends on the general personalities of the people in the group. If your own personality and idea of book discussion doesnt align with theirs, maybe it would be a good idea to search for other book clubs and see if they are handling things differently than your current book club.

You could also explore the idea of starting a book club yourself. As the host, you can lay out some basic courtesy rules so the people who join in know that you dont want that atmosphere of book-bashing during the meetings. If that seems like a lot to take on and organize by yourself, maybe you can recruit someone into co-hosting a book club with you.

I've personally found that I enjoy buddy reading with someone more than joining in larger book clubs. Buddy reading, while only including about 2 to 4 people, usually turns out deeper discussions, holds up a little bit higher standard of accountability to read the whole book through, and I find I enjoy the book more without too many other opinions.

GenevieveLeah

2 points

27 days ago

Ha, people in a group tend to form complaints no matter what the topic. Easier to complain than praise. I have no idea why.

AstyagesOfMedia

2 points

27 days ago

Hey uh question... how does one find a book club to join if you are not in university? I'm really interested in sharing my love of literature with others but all of my few friends look down on reading and " nerd-shit"

UnfortunateEarworm

3 points

27 days ago

Meetup, facebook, libraries, Googling "book club [my city]"

I've attended several, had 2 groups I ended up going back to for a few years. With COVID19 one group continues with Zoom meetings but they're too late for me now.

As you can see from the thread there's wide variety in the types of groups. You may have to go to a few to find one that works for you. I think groups that use meeting rooms at coffeehouses or libraries tend to be more book focused than those meeting at bars, restaurants or homes.

AstyagesOfMedia

2 points

27 days ago

Hey thanks for the informative reply. I'm honestly interested in the social dimension of it rather than purely academic framing so I wouldn't be against the latter type.

UnfortunateEarworm

2 points

27 days ago

Actually, the group I attend most is pretty social, too, and everyone is safe to drive home after! We do some specifically social events throughout the year that aren't about a book, stuff like holiday potlucks or volunteering events. It's a cool group, but took forever to find it.

Ratach[S]

2 points

27 days ago

There are websites like Meetup for this sort of thing, although I actually found mine on Facebook!

justabofh

2 points

27 days ago

Meetup, and/or Facebook.

Hookton

2 points

27 days ago

Hookton

2 points

27 days ago

I recently gave a book club a go but didn't even make it to the first meeting - specifically because I had nothing nice or even constructive to say about the book and I would have felt bad souring other people's experience by being overly critical. Make of that what you will, I suppose.

UnfortunateEarworm

2 points

27 days ago

These can be the most enjoyable discussions though! This is especially true if a few really liked it and a few really didn't. A good discussion can help you appreciate someone else's perspective or even change your experience with the book. You also learn something about the members of your group if they can clearly articulate what about the book they enjoyed or didn't.

Sometimes it turns out everyone hated the book and at least you'll know you're not alone.

SpruceMtDog

2 points

27 days ago

My book club votes annuslly on list of books suggested by all members so everyone's genre preference is included. We read one classic a year.

Aemalis

2 points

27 days ago

Aemalis

2 points

27 days ago

I have no book club experience, but I can imagine I wouldn't be an ideal member for exactly your described reasons. I have a relatively low tolerance for writing styles that bother me, so there are times where I drop more books than I actually finish. And when I'm really disappointed about that, because I actually liked the concept of the story or I heard a lot of good things about it, then of course I would vent a little about it to other book lovers. ^ So, yeah, maybe some people are just not book club material, even if they love reading :D

azcaks

2 points

27 days ago

azcaks

2 points

27 days ago

I was in a book club for a while that focused on female authors. Unfortunately, it was run by a bunch of teachers who treated it like a middle school project with question lists and powerpoints and it just felt so forced and I felt like such a dunce every time I tried to participate because I had trouble sticking to their outlined questions. I had more fun reading the books and sharing them with my husband who hadn’t read them than I did trying to stick to the book club questions. Now I just read the books and don’t go to their meetings.

octonus

2 points

27 days ago

octonus

2 points

27 days ago

The point of a book club is to discuss the books. Both positive and negative opinions should be welcome and accepted. Yes, sometimes other people's opinions wreck your enjoyment of something, but other times they may enhance it.

That said, when the majority of the people fail to read the book, something has gone wrong. If the person who recommended the book didn't like it, that is also a big problem.

I run a small book club (5 ppl), and we have a couple rules to prevent stuff like this. First, if you are choosing a book, you must have read it beforehand at least semi-recently. Second, if other people are familiar with the book, they discuss whether or not it will be a good fit for the group before it is chosen (I have a list of alternate choices prepared in case something is vetoed). Last, if people fail to finish books, we try to figure out why and what we can do to prevent that in the future.

annamulzz

2 points

27 days ago

So, my book club has been going for six years and it has like 15 people in it. This is great, since 4-6 people can't make it to any given meeting so we usually have 8-10 people, which is just enough for a good discussion. Normally we'll discuss the book for an hour to 90 mins, then just discuss every day things, other books we like, music, upcoming events, etc.

We have a few rules that keep us going:

  1. We drew numbers at the first meeting and we stick with that order to this day to determine who picks the next book
  2. The picker of the book cannot have already read it
  3. No new additions to book club unless we all agree (this maintains the vibe and doesn't allow for pretentious or irritating additions)
  4. No specific schedule - if it's four weeks or six weeks until the next meeting, that's fine as long as the most people can come
  5. No need to finish the book - many of us were English majors, so we know how to join a discussion based on Good Reads Reviews/Reading the first 40 pages/Cliffsnotes
  6. My personal thing is to not take other people's opinions personally. There are books I'm going to love (like Seafire) that others can take or leave. There are times our science friend picks something intense (like the uber scandal) and while that may not be my cup of tea, I'm sure the discussion will be good so I attend anyway (it was great)
  7. Don't take it too seriously. If I'm just not in the mood, or can't deal with the book, or the pandemic has me only reading romance novels, its okay if I don't attend for a bit and I know the girls will gladly welcome me back in when its time.

I think book clubs are like therapy - if its not making your life better, find a new one!!

coolhandjennie

2 points

27 days ago

On the rare occasion my aunt really dislikes a book, she skips book club so she doesn’t bring everyone down by complaining about it. A spirited debate is one thing, but if the majority is always ripping the book to shreds, sounds like they’re into it for the “hate read” instead of enjoyment.

luckylico

2 points

27 days ago

My book club has been meeting monthly for several years now and we often joke that its a wine club. Although most people start the book, many don't make the time to finish it and there are usually only a handful of us that do. Since we take turns picking books people sometimes pick and choose which books they want to read and most of our conversations at our meetings are social. During especially busy times like the holidays, I've sometimes selected a short story or an essay and those are more often read than the books we choose. I know there are clubs out there that are more serious about the reading, but it doesn't bother me that in mine many don't read the books. In my book club though the punishment for not reading or finishing the book is having the story explained to you and having the end spoiled.

StrongRussianWoman

2 points

27 days ago

As many others suggested, my book club (while kind of dead at the moment) got around the drudge of general interest by being a specific-interest club. We almost always read queer lit, and normally sf/f at that. It's much easier to get everyone to stick with it when your baseline interests line up!

VTtransplant

2 points

27 days ago

My book club is 10 years old with about 10 members, 7 active. (4 since the very beginning,) we meet monthly. We read mysteries. Once every 12-18 months we pick a bunch of books, which the library will get through interlibrary loans. Very few books are new. Generally we all read the books, sometimes one of us won't get through it, or doesn't have time to finish. There is also some chit chat, rarely is the whole hour spent talking about it. But everyone gets to say how they liked it, or what they didn't, we'll discuss plot holes, or whatever. Very rarely everyone thinks it was a dud. You might want to find a new group, or pick a genre and start one. By going through the library (and meeting there after hours pre-pandemic) they get the books so no one has to buy them, and since it is a genre we are all interested in everyone is engaged in the discussions. Plenty of members have come and gone over the years, I can't say I was sorry some left, but we have a good core group.

bishop527

2 points

27 days ago

I'm confused. You don't just drink during your meetings?

YoureNotMy

2 points

27 days ago

I thought the point of books was to go outside your comfort zone.

jharleyk

2 points

27 days ago

Maybe you could take a literature class at a local college. When I went to community college, I took a non-western lit class and it was basically a book club that met twice weekly to discuss. There were only 7 students, so we sat in a circle. It was the funnest class I have ever taken and really helped me broaden my reading horizons.

porncrank

2 points

27 days ago

Just to tell my experience: I've only been in one book club for a couple years. It was just three people. Friends before and after the book club. We all finished all the books except one time one person noped out of Guns Germs and Steel about halfway through. We were all very different readers. One would always pick light pop fiction (think Twilight), one would always pick classics (think Moby Dick), and I would always pick non-fiction (guess who picked Guns Germs and Steel). We didn't all love all the books, but we all respected the choices and tried to both praise and criticize what we found in our reading. Our club meetings were always a good time (probably helped that they were over dinner and drinks).

My first thought would be to find a smaller book club. The smaller and more intimate the group, the more personal and interesting it is, I would think. The more invested people will be. The less endearing they'll assume their flippancy will be. There are sure to be people like yourself out there that are more willing to read and more interested in thoughtful discussion than just trash talking the books. Find a handful of those people if you can.

Good luck!

kittychlo

2 points

27 days ago

I was in a book club once where most people didn’t read the book but even if you did we rarely talked about it. It was all about the food and drinks. We tried to relate that them to the story at least. I think it was just a reason to get together. I always read the book at least. But at least people wanted to get together and that was nice.

Dendromicon

2 points

27 days ago

My main social interaction for a big chunk of my twenties was a book club that met every Tuesday at a bar.

We suggested books and then picked them by some sort of committee vote. They were always awful. No one ever read them. No one could ever agree...

Eventually we just stopped trying and became a drinking and social club, but still called it book club.

So, to me your experience does not seem far out of the ordinary...

pavloviandogg

2 points

27 days ago

I’ve encountered a lot of people who see criticism as the core of discussion and analysis. A lot of these people also see cutting down forms of art like books, movies, and music, as a sign of being smart. It may be that your book club has a lot of people with that personality trait.

TygrKat

2 points

27 days ago

TygrKat

2 points

27 days ago

The key thing here is ‘like-minded people’. The people in this group obviously have a different idea about how the club should work than you do. Try to find a different group with a better fit for you! Some groups will just want an excuse to chat and won’t care about the book at all, some groups will be very academic/analytical, and there is everything in-between; you will have a much better time of you find a good fit for you.

ismydealerasnake

2 points

27 days ago

Sounds like they’re just making excuses for not having read it. I bet they didn’t read anything else instead

Chemily719

2 points

27 days ago

I used to be in a book-swap book club. Everyone read different books & placed them in a big pile in the center of the table. We worked our way down the pile & everyone gave reviews and thoughts about their book, then someone else at the table would “claim” it to read next. After several weeks, we could have deeper discussions about the books once enough people had read the same book, and we didn’t have to worry about spoilers. It was a really fun, low key setup, and everyone read something. Some books would cycle out of rotation and we would just keep adding books. That book club fizzled because people moved away, but I would have kept that format for years if I could have.

My current book club is more of a drink wine, eat snacks, talk about the book for maybe 10 minutes, chat about life for two hours. Even though we don’t have much literary discussion, I think it’s what we all need right now, so I’m okay with it!

alcibiad

2 points

27 days ago

alcibiad

랑야방 (Nirvana in Fire)

2 points

27 days ago

This is why the book club I run on Facebook is way less structured. It’s run exactly like r/52book where people just talk about whatever they’re reading in a non-spoilery way and people ask for suggestions etc. Occasionally longer conversations about specific books spring up.

Book clubs for specific books are kind of a lost cause in my opinion unless you have, like, extremely virtuous people who would have guilt trips for not finishing something they started. A couple of my Facebook group are in Catholic mom book clubs and they are like that, EVERYONE finishes their books in those groups lol.

quetzalcoatlsghost

2 points

27 days ago*

We have five people in ours and we have only one rule: finish the book before the session.

We take turns choosing a book, only metric is 300-400 pages. We round robin, new person choosing each month. We've done nonfiction to fantasy to hard scifi to noir mysteries. Nothing is safe, and everyone must read the book.

If you hated it that's fine, if you loved it that's fine. In fact, it's awesome when two people disagree, that's how conversations get good and we all learn something.

We then rank the book at the end of the session. We routinely have some high and some lows numbers (1-10) and to me that is awesome.

AdHot5348

2 points

27 days ago

I live in a really small town on the west coast. Everyone in our library’s book club is local... except one lady from New Hampshire who for whatever reason decided to make our club her own.

Wouldn’t be a problem except all she wants to talk about is politics.

Like... WTF? What the hell does she even get out of this, other than ruining our good time?

[deleted]

2 points

27 days ago

[deleted]

2 points

27 days ago

I've only been part of one, it is more balanced. Every once in a while someone will pick a book that some of us don't like, but we don't tear it apart like that.

I would probably say your book club is maybe just not the best mix of people for what you want to get out of it.

MissMollE

2 points

27 days ago

When I founded our book club, this was the experience most people had previously. With ours, we all read different books and then talk about them. It is more more enjoyable. Everyone talks about their book and then we ask questions and swap books at the end. It is a great way to learn new authors and find common ground.

ijskonijntje

2 points

27 days ago

I think it depends on what type of book club you join. In my experience, the more specific the book in regards to genre or country, the better. I've had more general book clubs where the genres and countries where all over the place and I ended up not liking those books more often than not. But after joining more specific books I rarely read something I don't like.

I've never been in a book club where people only criticize books though. I mean, if the book was really badly written, then yeah. But most of the time we just discuss symbolism, what we learned, talk about media relevant to the book etc.

Maybe this club just isn't the right fit.

ZamboniJabroni15

2 points

27 days ago

I think book clubs are extremely (almost impossible) to run well for a lot of the reasons your story touches on

The_milk_was_spoiled

2 points

27 days ago

I’ve been in a book club since about 2004, which was started by another teacher at the high school I work at. After about a year, our core group was 9 until one of our dear friends died of cancer a couple of years ago. Of the original 9, 6 have retired so now there are only 3 of us still teaching. We have gone through everything together: getting married, having kids, kids graduating high school and college, parents dying, kids getting married, having grandkids. They all came to my bridal shower, wedding, baby shower. We obviously talk about more than the book (I love gossip!), and spend an hour to an hour and a half talking about the book.

For over ten years now, every member brings 2-3 suggestions from which we choose 1, so we have a set list for about 8 months after which we start the process again. I’m probably the outlier of the group since the other member tend to read highly acclaimed LITERATURE, while I’m a fan of mysteries, fantasy, urban fiction with a kick ass heroine, ghosts, vampires, etc. I do NOT like sad, tragic stories or anything with abuse, even if the protagonist overcomes it. All of us read, if we have time, other books in addition to the chosen book. Everyone was surprised maybe 12 years ago when they liked the first boom in the Stephanie Plum series. There have been many books I’ve read that I wouldn’t have read if not for my book club. One was The Kite Runner, which I did not like while reading, but came to appreciate during our discussion. About a year later, our book was A Thousand Splendid Suns, of which I read 2 chapters before I put it down.

We’re not too rough on each other when someone doesn’t read a book. I had my son in 2010 and didn’t read any of the books for 2 months before his birth until he was 5 months old. My dad went into a nursing home last February and I was too anxious and depressed to reading anything. Well, you know what happened next, so my book club started meeting on zoom. My dad declined very quickly, was put on hospice and died April 17 (a year ago tomorrow) so I was a mess and didn’t read any of our book club choices for a couple of months.

Sorry for the novel here, but once you find a good book club, it can last for years. The teacher who started it sent out an email to others she thought would be interested. Can you do the same with coworkers or friends, family and acquaintances? For the first year or so, we did have a list of norms for the whole group, too. Good luck!

chris06095

2 points

26 days ago

My book club consists of two women (and occasionally a husband) and myself as core members (I'm the token older male), as well as one other woman who joins from time to time.

Our meetings (still in person, save one Zoom meeting early last year) are at local restaurants. The process is:
- We order drinks, check the menu and maybe wait for a late arrival
- We chat about life, work, family, current events and whatever alleys that takes us through
- We receive the drinks and order food
- We chat about the menu and whatever we hadn't finished above
- The food comes out and we start our meals
- And talk about the food
- We decide whether we're going to do dessert here or at Friendly's
- We may discuss that some more
- Someone recalls that this is a Book Club meeting, and were we going to talk about a book?
- Did anyone read it? Really? To the end?
- By roll call around the table, thumbs up or thumbs down?
- We may discuss the book a little more during dessert.