Anything your book club can do, mine can do better

I’ve always wanted to be part of a book club. Actually, that’s an exaggeration. I’ve always wanted the smug satisfaction of saying I’m part of a book club. It just feels like a noble thing to say. Oh, sorry, I can’t come on Tuesday because my book club meets. That’s what someone says when they’re actually covering for a murder or an affair. you know class

The problem is anything else that comes with being a member of a book club. In fact, if I wanted to discuss books, I would have gone to these English tutorials that I paid thousands of dollars to attend. I like ranting about books, sure. Perhaps my greatest strength is my superhuman ability to explain how everyone else gets things wrong and how I could have done better. I just don’t want to ever have to hear other people’s opinions. Why should I? I am the protagonist of reality and my unique understanding of what made something good or bad is the right answer. Even listening to someone who agrees with me is boring. Of course I’m right. That’s why I said what I said.

I'm one of those cool, sophisticated people who study books in a club.

I’m one of those cool, sophisticated people who study books in a club.

I thought maybe a book club wouldn’t be for me. Maybe what I was looking for was just a mirror. But then where was I going to get that feeling of smug satisfaction I so desperately needed? If there’s one thing you can already say about me, it’s that I’m too damn humble and need something to help me feel superior. Well I was lucky. A miracle happened that year. I’ve found the perfect book club. It was founded with the same purpose as any other book club. We wanted a push to read more, to see each other more, to be one of those people who have a book club. Then, as so often, life intervened.

The spirit was ready, but as a collective we didn’t find time to meet, let alone read a book! A smaller book club would die here. We would stop communicating, the group chat would go cold and we would all do our best to forget a time when we dared to read. But this is where our book club thrived.

Now once a month someone will message the group chat that we need to pick a new book for that month. We’re going to jumble a few options and try to find something that captures the mood of the group (a little bit weird, a little bit awesome, kinda gory, but not too gory) and we all settle on the book that’s scheduled for this month’s am sounds best. The next step is the important one that differentiates this book club from smaller book clubs. We don’t actually read the book. The book will never be discussed again. You’ll get all the endorphin hits by picking the book up and feeling like a good, well-rounded person without the homework that comes with it. There is no better feeling in this world than having a commitment and deciding not to do it anyway. We just streamlined the process!

Plus, if you’re talking to someone outside of the group, you still get that same good feeling on the street. What are you reading? Oh, we do that at my book club. I’m not sure what to think of this yet. But I’m sure what you think of me. I’m one of those cool, sophisticated people who study books in a club. I carry my things in a shopping bag and give her a wry smile New Yorker cartoons. I can have my son acquitted of any crime. I am the cultural elite.

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After we took care of the reading, we then solved the other worst part of book club participation, the talking. Discussions in book clubs lead to conflict. There is always a person who has not read the book, there is a person who has read it but not understood it, and there is a person who is very diligent and thoughtful in taking notes but also has the worst opinions and common sense a labrador. Our book club solves this problem with an ingenious rule: don’t discuss the book unless all book club members are present.

You may be wondering what happens when everyone is present? The simple answer is: It didn’t happen and never will. Part of the problem with organizing a regular book club with a group of adults is that there’s always one person who suddenly doesn’t make it, who’s double-booked, or who realizes they’re getting into a 1pm on a Saturday shabby pub goes Discussing the latest collection of sad things happening to fictional Irish 20 year olds is a depressing way to spend your afternoon. We understand that. We’ve gone beyond that. We’d love to chat about the book, but oh oh, not everyone could make it this month, so I guess we should gossip mindlessly for a few hours instead.

https://www.smh.com.au/culture/books/anything-your-book-club-can-do-mine-can-do-better-20221219-p5c7f1.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_culture Anything your book club can do, mine can do better

Jaclyn Diaz

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