The 11 Types of People You Meet In Book Club

by Kate Erbland

If you're anything like me, your book club is the one monthly commitment you refuse to break. Work dinner? Sorry, I have book club. Hot date? Nope, I have a very important book club to attend. Swanky wine tasting at the new bar down the street? Book club. Family in town? BOOK CLUB.

I look forward to my book club every single month, eager to hang out with some of my best gals and talk about books, our apartments, the subway, boys, our jobs, general gossip, and booze (yes, I belong to an especially free-wheeling book club that doesn’t get too uptight about our game plan). It’s a can’t-miss event around which the entire month is built.

But every book club isn’t perfect, and most of them involve a strange coterie of very different personalities with very different tastes, all battling it out (hopefully, in a friendly enough manner) to have their literary opinions be heard. Thank goodness there are books to bind all of us together (and, again, all that booze and probably a cheese plate or three) because when you get so many passionate readers together in one place, sparks are bound to fly. Here are 11 types of people who will bring that passion — well, mostly — to your friendly local book club.

The Super-Serious Bibliophile

Most book club are supposed to be frisky and fun, but the Super-Serious Bibliophile would rather everyone spend less time chattering about their lives and indulging in cheesy snacks and actually talking about the book at hand... and all the books that it made her think of... and the latest round of New York Times Book Review picks... and what you should read next month... and that one book she read that everyone should read on their own even it does push into 800 or so pages. A recovering English major, the Super-Serious Bibliophile isn't here for the superfluous stuff — she'd rather everyone whip out their specs and dive deep into the material at hand for a solid two hours. Did this month's pick come with a handy reader's guide? She's already memorized it and made study sheets.

The Perfect Host(ess)

As someone who has attempted to rally her book club for a cozy coffeehouse outing, let me warn you: just stay at home. Book clubs can get rowdy and loud (and, depending on their preference, maybe kind of boozy), and it's much easier to break loose and speak your mind in the comfort of someone's own home, rather than the local pub or a swanky coffee joint. Thankfully, that's where the Perfect Host(ess) comes in. They relish preparing fun appetizers, pouring stiff drinks, and showing off their sparkling abode to the crush of the club. Even if you're meant to trade off hosting duties, who could possibly blame you for hitting up the Host(ess)'s joint more often? There is all that homemade pizza, after all.

The Dedicated Snacker

In a well-balanced world, the Dedicated Snacker and the Perfect Host(ess) are best pals. Sure, the snacker in question likes books and reading and stuff, but she also adores well-made apps and snazzy drinks, all enjoyed while sitting in a comfortable living room amongst the wine-lubricated buzz of her clubmates. If nothing else, you can always count on the Dedicate Snacker to show up and help do the dishes.

The Good Student

The Good Student might not be as literary-minded as the Super-Serious Bibliophile, but she's just as dedicated. Curious as to what the critics had to say about your chosen book? The Good Student can rattle off the opinions of The New York Times Book Review, NPR, Kirkus, the general consensus over at GoodReads, and even a few choice quotes from assorted Amazon reviews. She's read up on the author's previous works, personal biography, and her favorite food. Eager to offer bits of trivia to suit any occasion, the Good Student will end up being a temporary expert of any and all of your club's picks... at least until she moves on to the next month's entry.

The Forgetful Friend

The rules of book club are simple: read the book and show up to talk about it. The Forgetful Friend frequently pulls an oops on both. Perhaps she'll show up one month, laden with snacks and good humor, only to eventually reveal that she didn't even bother to read the book. The next month, she'll be a no-show, despite asking some intriguing questions in the club's official email planning thread (don't have one for your club? Get one now!) that make it clear that she read this month's selection (and really loved it).

The Chatterbox

It's often unclear if the Chatterbox has actually read the book, because she so easily makes up for bookish insights with an endless stream of mostly unrelated chatter about other stuff. Book club is, however, about good times, and the Chatterbox is so adept at talking about anything/everything, that no one really minds what tangents she sends the group on in the course of her conversational wanderings. Book club can totally be about discussing celebrity gossip, okay?

The Shy Smartypants

The Shy Smartypants only pipes up every so often, but when she does, she sagely provides that best and brightest insight into the book at hand, the kind of revelation or reading that sends everyone reeling. Huh, I never thought of that, everyone wonders, from the Chatterbox to the Super-Serious Bibliophile. Suddenly, the entire discussion has changed.

The Fair-Weather Attendee

Is this month's book club close to her house? Did she really like the book? Is the homemade pizza coming back into play? Then the Fair-Weather Attendee is there. Next month? Yeah, not so much.

The Deep Dissenter

No matter how carefully everyone picks each month's book selection or how smoothly the discussion is guided, the Deep Dissenter finds something to pick apart that no one else noticed. Perhaps the author of this month's book has a "better" novel you should have chosen instead or there were simply too many pages in the latest selection, no matter what, she'll find fault anywhere and everywhere.

The Quiet Kind

A close cousin of the Shy Smartypants, the Quiet Kind almost never says anything during monthly meetings, but she faithfully shows up for every outing. Is she even reading the books? Does she like the homemade pizza? Did she make her own study guide? We'll never know.

The Spaced Out Sidekick

Assembling a solid and reliable book club isn't easy — it's sort of the friend equivalent of a chemistry experiment — and no matter how different its various attendees might be, once you hit upon a good group, it's hard to throw a new member into the mix. It's even worse when it's the Spaced Out Sidekick, a tag-along friend that one member is convinced will be great — until she actually shows up. Perhaps she hasn't read the book or maybe all your inside jokes go right over her head, but the Spaced Out Sidekick just can't jibe with your group. Maybe give her one more month to work out? After all, why should anyone be denied entry into your classy club?