In elementary school, my older sister was in a book club — a group that consisted of a few friends and their parents. I sat in on one of the meetings when we hosted the club. They’d all read Borgel that month, a weird children’s novel by Daniel Pinkwater that I distinctly remember my mother being utterly unenthused about. As I sat cross-legged on the scratchy Oriental rug in our living room, I thought: this is really boring. Twenty years later, I'd still rather stare at the crown molding than be in your book club, and here's why.
Reading isn't a group activity.
I was always under the impression that books were an alone time thing. I think my elementary school always called reading outside of class independent reading, not halfheartedly skimming a mediocre novel and discussing it at an agreed upon time and place with five women you only sort of like reading. Books are supposed to be read under the covers with a flashlight.
Books aren't hackysacks.
You can't play reading like it's a game. Some people need to take months between chapters to decompress. Some people can only get to their books during their 15 minutes in the loo. Some people like reading three books at once. There shouldn't be rules and timelines for how people experience a story.
There’s a chance you won’t like the book.
Having to read a book that you don’t like all the way through is the literary equivalent of waiting on line at the DMV — you didn’t want to go there in the first place and now you have to wait forfuckingever for it end. And you can't stop reading it: you made a loose commitment to talk about it in someone's living room next week. Your girls are counting on you. I hate reading books I’m not into. That’s why I’ve lied about having read The Scarlet Letter since like the 10th grade. I mean, there's for sure a chance you'll read a great book you wouldn't have otherwise, but I'm a worst-case scenario kinda gal.
There’s a chance you won’t like the book but your friends will.
And then you’ll just have to get new friends, and you'll start to doubt your judgement and eventually you'll just question every major life decision you've ever made and you'll find yourself reading while eating a footlong at Subway, lost in some sort of Twilight K-hole.
There’s a chance you will like the book.
The cool thing about book clubs is that you can discover something amazing that you never would have come across on your own — and someone may even shed some great light on a work through your discussion. But what if you're the kind of person whose love affair with a novel is based more on your emotional response than on how well-constructed you found the narrative and characters to be? You look pretty stupid when you don't have much to say besides, "I LOVE THIS THING."
There’s a chance you will like the book but your friends won’t.
These people, c’mon! There’s really nothing quite as sad as someone not liking a book you love.
Other people’s opinions.
Are the worst, generally.
Weird meeting times.
It seems like book clubs always meet at some weird Sunday time, right? Like too late for lunch but too early for dinner and then you just go to town on snacks and suddenly it’s 8 P.M. and you’ve got to accept that your dinner was small cubes of cheese? This is probably not an issue for most people; I’m just really into meals.
You don’t even talk about the book.
I’m all about those women who are like, “Really it’s just an excuse to schmooze and drink wine!” But don’t make me read Tuesdays with Morrie and then not even bring it up. I am all about schmoozing and drinking wine (ask anybody), but shoot me a text and let me know we’re all part of some elaborate girl lie so that I don’t have to spend time reading a book no one else did. Thanks in advance.
They're just another disappointment waiting to happen.
What if it gets cancelled!? What if the group you want to join meets on a day you can't make it?!
So, when do we meet next? Anyone? Anyone?