My book club has about ten members. They’re all smart women who enjoy reading and literature, but I find that we talk about the book for about ten minutes and the conversation quickly degenerates into drunken conversations about husbands, boyfriends, whichever book club members didn’t come that night, and shoes. I enjoy talking about shoes and certainly appreciate a good tidbit of gossip, but I don’t find book club to be the appropriate forum. When it takes a turn, I try to steer the conversation back to that month’s book, and I have even come prepared with discussion questions and print-outs of book reviews, but it doesn’t seem to help. Do you have any suggestions as to how I can make book club more productive, less about what’s happening in the neighborhood, and a little more about the book? Thank you.
Find a new book club. I know you want to talk about the book, honey, but clearly no one else does.
I’m a voracious reader and a devoted book-clubber, and I’ve been in a bunch of book groups over the years. In one club, we never read anything more challenging than a Judy Blume novel and only drank wine out of a box; our best meeting ever ended with one woman–who claimed to be a Mensa member–woozily taking her top off and encouraging us to squeeze her breast implants. Another book club met in a coffee shop basement, where people flung about Camus quotes (en Francais, of course) and dismissed Pynchon as nothing more than a male version of Danielle Steele. It was intellectually stimulating, but boring as fuck.
I suggest you start a new book club, with like-minded folks who are as serious as you. Or just give it up, throw caution to the wind, and at your next meeting chug a glass of Chardonnay and take your shirt off.