I have been part of several failed book clubs. And while their demise wasn’t entirely my fault, I have to admit to being relieved when they ended. I might be a big reader, but I am definitely not a book club person. Here’s why:
I don’t like being told what to read.
This has been true my ENTIRE life. If a book was assigned in school, no matter how good it is, I developed an instant aversion to it. I still haven’t read The Giver because it was assigned reading in 8th grade. And despite a lot of people telling me it’s a great book, I just cannot muster the motivation to pick it up (sixteen years later). In my brief experience with book clubs, I encountered the same problem (not that anyone else was actually reading the books, but still).
I’ve already read a lot of the books.
Somehow, in all the book clubs I’ve been a part of, they manage to select books I’ve already read about 90% of the time. Which means I either have to reread it or skim it to refresh my memory before the discussion. And honestly, that kind of takes the fun out of it. I want to read a book with fresh eyes and show up feeling excited about it. I’m not going to contribute much about a book I read two years ago.
I’m an impatient reader.
(This is also why I am terrible at buddy reading.) I usually read pretty quickly, and start getting restless if I go too long without finishing a book. I don’t do well when I have to read during a specific time frame. With book clubs, I tend to get impatient having to wait for everyone else to finish the book. My last book club took three months to finish a book once (even with monthly meetings) and I just really wanted to move on.
I don’t like taking charge.
I read more than the average person – a lot more – and while it’s totally okay that everyone reads different amounts (other people have lives), I tend to become the token bookworm in any group. In book clubs, that means people looking to me for answers, and being the center of attention makes me cringe. I don’t like the responsibility of guiding the discussion (even if it’s because I’m the only one who actually finished the book), and it makes the whole thing feel more like work than fun.
I struggle with sounding smart but not pretentious.
I have a terrible habit of dumbing myself down when I talk. (It’s a childhood thing stemming from other people’s insecurities and my desire to avoid confrontation and having to constantly explain myself.) When I do try to sound intelligent, I feel like I’m being pretentious or condescending and it makes me uncomfortable. Basically, either way I feel anxious, unless I’m with people I feel really comfortable with.
I don’t particularly enjoy analyzing books outside of school.
While I actually really enjoyed all the literature courses I took in college and grad school, and analyzing the works we read, I mostly just like enjoying books at face value. Once in a blue moon I’ll delve deeper into a classic, but that’s about it. I don’t enjoy looking at every single detail in contemporary novels especially. It kind of sucks the fun out of it for me.
I sometimes take it personally when people don’t like the books I like.
Everyone has different taste, and that’s completely okay. But I am still disappointed when someone doesn’t like a book I loved. I think it’s harder to deal with when it’s in person. I can choose to ignore the bad review of my favorite book online, but I don’t like listening to someone talk about why they hated it.
Have you ever participated in a book club? I’d love to hear about your experience!