Yeah, like I said above. Book clubs are hard, especially if you’re running them. Don’t get me wrong, I like them most of the time but sometimes I’m not feeling it. It’s not the club part I find difficult, well not usually, but instead, oddly enough, it’s the reading. First of all, I find it really difficult to have a deadline for finishing a book. Normally, I have no trouble reading a book I’m enjoying in a couple of days or less, depending on the book, but adding on a deadline seems to affect my psychologically and slows me down so that I feel like I’m rushing to finish it on time. Second of all, although I like being pushed beyond normal reading boundaries and I usually end up liking the books, sometimes I don’t or I’m just not in the mood but I feel like I have to finish the book anyway. Especially if I’m running the meeting, like with the teens, and have to be able to keep the discussion going. Reading books that I’m not enjoying is especially hard now because, working in a library, I live under a giant “to read” pile and have been going with the philosophy that “life is too short to read books you don’t like.”
Years ago, I belonged to a book club at the local Chapters. My friend ran it because she worked there at the time and it consisted of a woman who was my friends high school band teacher, a woman who joined from seeing the ads, and a few of my friends. I loved the variety of books that we read and that it introduced me to books and authors that I probably wouldn’t have picked up otherwise. We read everything from literary fiction like Margaret Atwood’s Penelopiad to nonfiction zombie books like The Serpent and the Rainbow to science fiction like Robert J. Sawyer’s Far-seer. We even read The Glass Castle a couple years before it became really big because one of the members thought it looked good and it was in the bargain bin. We read some great books and some terrible books (cough, Casino Royale, cough). Admittedly, there was often more chatting about general stuff then chatting about the book and we would end up buying a lot of other books. It got to the point where my friend and I started jokingly calling it “book buying club” but, after my friend quit Chapters and the club dissolved, I missed it for a long time.
About a year after I started at the library, I started a teen book club. I had to start from scratch and it was slow going at first with numbers that were really low, like one or two or even zero. I built it to be fairly successful, although it’s had it’s ups and downs and the numbers can be pretty erratic. It can be fun and it can be frustrating. Although I let them choose the book, I do have a fair amount influence over the options, which is nice because it became less of a chore to read them. We’ve had some great book discussions, usually when numbers are smaller, and we’ve had meetings where I’m the only one who read the book but all-in-all it’s been pretty rewarding.
Which leads up to this Tuesday and the adult book club that I’m leading for work. I volunteered to take over the book club every few months and I’m both looking forward to it and dreading it. The book we’re discussing is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and this was a case of the deadline problem and the having to finish it problem. In the end, I liked the book but if I had just been reading it for myself, I would have put it down near the beginning. It was just so depressing and it made me sad and I just wasn’t feeling it. I will definitely have much to discuss about it but I had to balance it out by reading a less depressing book at the same time.
Here’s hoping it’ll go well.
What I’m reading right now: The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee by Tom Angelberger and I Shall Wear Midnight audiobook by Terry Pratchett.