When I lived in California I was a member of a book club that had been running for well over a decade. Now I’m in Colorado I’m seriously considering establishing one myself as I loved being exposed to books that I wouldn’t otherwise have read, and I enjoyed the discussion and sense of camaraderie that came with being with a group of like-minded book lovers.
The only thing is – I’m not sure I want to be responsible for actually setting up a book group. In California, the group had evolved and changed composition over time but the balance seemed to be just right. There were enough strong opinions to go around but no obnoxious personalities to derail the discussion. There was also enough food and drink available to help the ‘discussion’ flourish. The thing is, I’m not sure I can ever recreate this and, to be honest, I’m not sure I should even try.
Successful book groups seem to involve an almost serendipitous arrangement of personalities, opinions and characters. Get the balance right and it’s terrific – get the balance wrong and it’s a horrible endurance test for all concerned. I’ve had offers to join other book groups too – but again, I’m wary about joining. I’ve also been reading about the emergence of online book groups which sound pretty cool – only I think I’d miss the personal interaction (not to mention the accountability – much easier to lie online about having read a book!).
So – some input from TKZers is required. Specifically I’m wondering:
- Are you a member of a great book group?
- If so, what do you think makes it great? (or if you’ve been a member of a dysfunctional group – what was the main problem or issue?)
- What do you think makes a successful book group?
- And finally…with all the social media/online options do you think the ‘in-person’ book group is becoming (sadly!) redundant?
I’m also interested in whether you tend to favor a single sex book group (the one I was in was all-women) or a mixed group and whether you think focusing on a specific genre is helpful (we could chose basically anything, which I think made it much more interesting as I had to read books I wouldn’t otherwise have read). All in all, it would be great to start up a new book group – but I know, after some ‘interesting’ experiences with writing group dynamics, just how carefully I need to tread…