Originally posted on 3/30/2011
Ok, I'll admit it. I'm a book snob. I don't read chic lit. Ever. Not even in the bathroom. You can imagine what a pain I am to have in a book club. I think there's a law somewhere that requires book clubs (at least, those with all women) to read at least one Candace Bushnell book.
That's probably why I've only been in a few book clubs. I'm just so darn persnickety about the books I read. It could also be attributed to the fact that I own a business, run a household and drive all over creation with my kids on a weekly basis. I don't have time to waste, so the books I read have to be worth it.
So, when I recently decided that I wanted to try the book club “thing” again, I began looking around for one to join. The problem was twofold: either the ones I knew of weren’t taking new members or I didn’t want to join the ones that were.
This led me to the conclusion that I should just start a book club. But, if I was starting a book club, it should be completely devoid of all the things I don’t like about them. And so, here is this book snob’s guide to book clubbing:
1. By all means, be exclusive – Limit your membership in the very beginning to less than a handful and discuss with those few how many others you will invite. Limit that number to under 10. It’s nearly impossible to have a real discussion about a book with 15 people. For us book snobs, getting into the guts of a book is an intimate thing.
2. Friends only – As nice as it is to invite people you barely know or never met, under the pretense that that’s going to give you the different views for discussion, it’s just going to annoy you. You’ll spend the first several meetings trying to get acquainted and will probably not even talk about the books in any detail for fear of offending each other. The beauty of inviting people who already are your friends is that you will be comfortable from the beginning, and it will provide a level of depth that you may not have gotten to in your friendship.
3. Lock in your book list – This addresses my biggest pet peeve about book clubs—the book list. Ask all of your members (remember, there’s less than five of you) to come up with 5-10 books they would love to read or re-read. Use those lists to select your books for a year. You can assign them in order or give the option to select from the list each month. I prefer pre-assigning them so that there’s no temptation to go off the list.
4. Get out of the house – Many book clubs rotate between people’s houses, which has its advantages and can be cozy. But, it can also be a distraction and may prevent some members from attending meetings if anyone lives far enough away. Pick a coffeehouse, wine bar or restaurant where you can meet on a regular basis. Everyone will know where they are going and the distance to travel will always be the same. Plus a little coffee or wine never hurts a book discussion.
5. Start with the pleasantries – Make your first meeting a social gathering only. Use this as your opportunity to talk about the genres you enjoy reading and pick your book list. Set your meeting dates and times, and pick your meeting place. It’s kind of like a kick-off event for your book club to get everyone excited and make sure they really want to do it.
For the seriously snobby book snobs:
6. Blog or post your group’s reviews online – Using Bookreads or some other medium, you can put your book review out there for others to read. However, I think this might be a little too snobby. Even for me.