Monday, February 22

The Overwhelming Pressure of Book Club

A few years ago I started a book club. Brought in a librarian to talk us through the ins and outs, and she left us with a stack of recommended reading. All of us are type A and love to follow rules, so we diligently worked our way through four of them. At which point one person threatened to quit if we read one more depressing book. We discovered that quite often, for a book to be considered 'discussion worthy', it turns out to be overwhelmingly depressing. And our aversion to Opray picks and Pulitzer Prize winners is very strong. So we promptly threw out her list, and embarked upon finding the titles by ourselves....well, by myself, because I come up with the choices 90% of the time.
After our less than ideal start, the responsibility of choosing an entertaining yet meaty book really weighed on me. I can't tell you how much time I waste at work the day before we meet, searching for just the right mix. Not to mention that every summer we read a 'funny' book. That is the most elusive prize for me, and I'll admit I'm already stressing about finding one for this summer. But I love our club, and we've read some truly great titles. Non fiction stunners like Crashing Through and Beautiful Boy to fabulous fiction like Patriot Hearts and Sunflowers.
But, due to circumstances beyond my control, another book club has formed. The job fell to me to choose the first book (which I insist on passing around from now on - I simply can't take the pressure!). Complicating the mix is that I didn't know any of the five other women, or their tastes. Took a stab in the dark, and we settled on A Reliable Wife. Huge mistake! It happens to be one of the best books I've read in years, with numerous unexpected plot twists. I've set the bar far, far too high. We're not going to come close to reading anything this good for ages (by the way, run, don't walk to get this book!). As awful as our bad-book-run was for my initial club, I think starting with such a winner is almost as bad. Where the heck do we go from here?


  1. Oh Christi, I feel your pain. Tried a book club once and it lasted like three meetings.Totally agree about the Oprah picks, she loves them dark. I just finished Kristin Hannah's Winter Garden..OMG, what a read. Great characters, great story. Left a lasting impression.

    For humor, if you haven't already, try Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells and The Sugar Queen, plus she has a new one coming in March. I love, love her. Although, they are more whimisical than laugh out loud funny.

  2. Thanks for the suggestion - but it has got to be laugh out loud funny. OUr first one was A Year in the Merde, our second one was Candy Girl, the memoir of a stripper by the woman who wrote the movie Juno, and last year was Drink, Play, F*&K, the satirical sequal to Eat Pray Love. Soooo hard!

  3. I'm so not a bookclub girl, Christie...they remind me way too much of college-lit classes. When I'm reading for pleasure I just want to be taken along for the ride...not figure out how the roller coaster is working! But kudos to you for sticking with the group (and the new one!).

  4. I've never gone to a book club--they always take place in the daytime around here--but I think it would be fun. Other than picking out the books! I wish you luck with that. :-)

  5. sorry, i'm no help! i'm reading diana gabaldon at the moment and nora book club material i've been told! ah of luck finding another one equally as good!