21 October 2008

Book Groups

I just started with a new book group in my new town; I just left the best book group ever in my old town. The new one will be fine, but not amazing, I think. I fear there will be too many self-help books chosen, or feel-good stuff. Not that there's necessarily anything wrong with those, but why choose them for a book group? And I do truly wish that I could find a group that more often read book I haven't read. It's so rare that I get to read a new book for a group.

Anyway, here's how I see different sorts of book groups:

  • Worst- groups that don't really talk about books, but just use it as an excuse to socialize
  • Bad- self-help/personal inspiration groups
  • Not so good, not so bad- groups with too many rules (books less than 300 pages, squeaky clean, only one type of book allowed, a tyrannical leader, etc- these groups usually are on track though)
  • Good- These are hard to describe, because so many groups are like this- not perfect, but good
  • Best- Groups of respectful women that read a wide variety of worthwhile literature and enjoy a variety of viewpoints
What other awful sorts of groups are there? Have you given up on book groups? Do you go even if the book is not great? What about expressing opinions different from the rest of the group? Have you ever tried starting your own? What would it be like if you did?


  1. I have started a book group, and while it was difficult to get going, it was a rewarding experience. I do know that it's not easy to always have good literature, but if you any say in the books, even only one a year, then you know there's at least one good book...

    I go if the book is not great. I dissent. (I actually like when people don't like the book; it makes discussion more interesting.) I almost gave up on my book group, persevered. It's not always brilliant, but I do enjoy it.

    If you're unhappy with your in person , and looking for a more, well, open/interesting/discussion-oriented, book group, come join us over at Sequestered Nook. I'd love to have you there. :)

  2. Hello! I just saw your intro on the Nook, and I think (hope) we fit in to the "great" category (although we're not just women, over there--we do have at least one man with an opinion...) We certainly read a variety. I'm excited you've joined us!

    As for in-person groups, I've started the only one I've participated in, and we pretty much stuck to classics (it was church-based and subject to ecclesiastic endorsement). But we had some great discussions, especially for Cry the Beloved Country and Animal Farm. My favorite thing about the in-person group was that most of the ladies were older (upwards of 65) and well-read and brought a fascinating perspective to bear on the books.

  3. I love the look of your blog! I have strong feelings on this subject too, having been in, I think, FIVE different book groups. I'd agree with nearly everything. For me, though, your "bad" is also in my "worse" category :) I'm in a reading group to read good LITERATURE. I have yet to stumble upon a self help that I could possibly consider literature (although, honestly, I haven't stumbled upon many, hee hee!)

    I love the idea of making a rating system. I like you already and I'm glad you've joined us at the nook!

  4. Hi Erica, Just saw the link to your blog on the Nook. I have been in several different types of book clubs...ranging from bad to great. One of my favorite book clubs was a couples book club in Japan...it was so interesting to have a mix of male and female perspectives in terms of book selection and discussion. It can be so disappointing when a group isn't a good "fit". I love those moments when the discussion is lively, candid, and intimate. And like Melissa mentioned some of the best discussions often come about when there are mixed opinions on a book. I find it hard to stay in a group if there isn't real discussion happening, if the book selections are continually poor, and if there are personality issues....so hard when there are one or two people with strong personalities who dominate the discussions. I think variety of books and members is key for me. I tend to enjoy a mix of reads and also enjoy being with a mix of readers (ages, experiences, interests, etc...keeps things interesting and I feel like I learn/exchange more). The Nook is my first experience with an on-line club and I have to say I have really enjoyed that experience. Look forward to checking out your blog. And welcome again to the Nook.

  5. Thanks for all your comments!