Sunday, May 27, 2007

Running A Book Club - What To Do When Everyone Hates The Book, And It's Your Fault

I've been running a book club for 9 years. In the early days, I would get nervous and prepare pages of notes, research backround information about the author, and collect book reviews. Now, the group is so comfortable that we just show up and let the conversation roll.

We've had temporary members who show up for a meeting or two, but then disappear. We wonder idly about those drifting souls, where are they now? At the Inkwell, many people express interest in joining one of our book clubs, they even purchase the next book, but then don't show up for the meeting. What isn't factored in is the truth that a book club is a commitment. Reading a book a month shouldn't be so hard, but it's like a homework assignment. You'll find yourself reading everything under the sun, except the book club selection. (A brief apology is due to Cristin who has been running the Uncommon Caliber book club - I've yet to complete the reading for the club meetings!)

When I started our club, of course I found reading material for suggestions and tips on how to run a successful club. The Inkwell has books on how to run a club, analyze literature, lists of good reading choices, and journals for recording your thoughts about the books. I recommend The Book Club Companion by Diany Loevy, The Reading Group Handbook by Rachel Jacobsohn, and How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster.

There is support in the aforementioned books about how to handle the dreaded moment when the entire club revolts against a book. It does happen, and if the blame rests on your shoulders for selecting the book, don't take the abuse personally! Remember, they hate the book, not you. Just make sure that you pick a crowd-pleaser next time!