In Search of the Perfect Book Club

I’ve belonged to a few book clubs and have to admit, with no shame whatsoever, that my favorite was the one I chaired as a library manager. I know. It’s kind of conceited to feel that way, but the truth is, if you lead the discussion, you can control the flow of the meeting and keep one person from dominating the conversation. It takes some practice to lead a book club tactfully, but it pays off with satisfied members who enjoy meeting regularly to discuss their reading.

One club that I joined a few years back was a busy one with over 25 members. I only attended a few sessions, because I didn’t care for the format. Each member read a book related to a general theme (for example, when the theme was “First Ladies,” I read Curtis Sittenfeld’s American Wife) rather than read the same book and share their opinions. Another club I belonged to for a short time was a group of eight women that met twice a month at a restaurant. It was enjoyable but less about the books and more about the food. It was hard to remember what I liked about Barbara Kingsolver’s latest when I was busy drooling over my chicken piccata.

I plan to join a book club again, someday when I’m not busy doing a million other things, and I’ll consider these factors before becoming a regular member:

1. How large is it? More than 12 members is too big. I like to have an opportunity to share my opinion without interrupting or being interrupted.
2. Does everyone read the same book? This is a nonnegotiable. If not, I won’t join.
3. Where are the meetings held? I prefer a library setting because there are fewer distractions (no chicken piccata to drool over), but this is not a nonnegotiable.
4. Who leads the group? Is she tactful and fair? Does she encourage everyone to share?

Until I find my perfect club, I’ll hang out on Goodreads, where I can share the books I read. That will have to do for now.

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