So, are book clubs heaven or hell? In last week’s column, I posted comments from readers who love their book clubs. Today I’m giving you answers from readers who view the concept with skepticism.
I’ll start with the wonderfully simple Edith clark of Hopkins, who wrote: “I have been invited to join several book clubs over the years and my reaction is always the same: why would I spend time talking about books with others when I could this time reading a book?
Judy Nobles of West St. Paul has a similar opinion. “I haven’t been to a book club in decades. I guess I’m a selfish reader. I don’t care if I read a book I have no interest in. Life is too short, I’m too old and there are too many books I want to read. “
Judy Westergard of Minneapolis eschews book clubs primarily to spare others. She’s a retired literature professor and “No one needs to hear me go into ‘lecture mode’, which seems to be my modus operandi in a book club.”
When Marie linstroth from St. Louis Park belonged to a book club, she loved discovering new books, but the bad outweighed the good. “There were mean women, many who hadn’t read the book and even a few who had drunk too much so we had to stop serving wine.”
She found a solution: “Right now my good friend gives me her book club list and now I have the best of both worlds; the list without the characters! “
Karen Herreid Austin, Minn., is missing her old book club and she would like to join another, but it has to be the right one. “I’m picky about what I read,” she said. “Plus, I get frustrated when others don’t read the book.”
She found an alternative by welcoming her late husband’s Great Books group, formed 40 years ago. “My house is the only one big enough to comfortably accommodate the group,” she said. “Sure, there’s refreshments and gossip, but the book is the focal point. It’s a special group.”
Brendan Kennealy de Richfield worries that book clubs are “a bunch of people who care about words and want to connect, constantly thwarted by cranky and cranky people who want something new to complain about every week.” However, he’s considering joining one anyway, especially if he can find a book club that serves coffee and donuts.
Terry warner of St. Louis Park discovered that book clubs were “the law of diminishing returns.” They get into a good mood! Everyone wants to participate. But then the group gets smaller and smaller until it’s all about me and the coordinator! But Warner isn’t giving up. “I am now in” Book club # 3 (in so many years). “
We will end with Steve schulz from Minneapolis, which sounds both frustration and optimism:
“I have been a member of several book clubs. It is difficult to get the right one [mix of] people. You need a commitment from the members that they will read the books, ”he wrote. “I’ve been to clubs where people are only halfway through the book and don’t want to know the end until they read it, stifling the conversation. Another club was dominated by a member. Leading a discussion in a book club is a skill that not everyone has. “
He adds: “I won’t give up, however, I just joined another club.”
Laurie Hertzel is the editor of the Star Tribune books. Email: [email protected] On Twitter: @StribBooks.