BA Chat: In the Absence of a Book Club

A couple of years ago I wanted to join a book club, but couldn’t find one in my area. The problem with the area I live in is not with a lack of readers. Rather there are so many readers, as soon as one starts up, a book club will fill up quickly. Each book club I came across was either full or wasn’t at a time I could attend.

Having the combination of a desire to get together with other book lovers to chat and being myself, I eventually created a book club of my own. It’s how I roll.

It can be difficult work running a book club. You can be plagued by doubts, feel the energy you put into it as a waste of time, and that member’s could either take it or leave it. On the upside is when everything goes well and you get to have fantastic conversations about books, have a laugh, commiserate over a disliked read, discover new reading material, and, if you’re more of a socialite than I am, you’ll hopefully make some new book-loving mates.

Earlier this year I had to say goodbye to my book club. After missing four meetings in a row and problems with my health, I realised it was time to bow out. I didn’t end the book club. There were still members attending and even though I create things for myself because I can’t find what I need, I also want others to enjoy it. So when I left another member took over and I’m still part of the FB group.

Although I’m not really part of the group or the book club anymore and moving to another area in a couple of months also makes the end of my participation all too clear.

It has now been several months since I left the book club and here’s what I’ve discovered since then; I miss it. That’s right, I’m pining away for a book club.

I don’t necessarily miss running one. I believe if someone asked me to take up that position again I’d refuse. I wouldn’t need to consider it either. I’ve done my dash of running and organising things. I don’t need to go down that road again, at least not for the time being.

What I miss is having that book in common with others and knowing I’ll be discussing it with them soon. I miss having the anticipation that can come with deciding on the next book with others, wondering what read will be next, and knowing we’ll be reading it around the same time. What I miss most of all of course is the catching up, the jokes that only other book-lovers will understand, and being around others who understand your passion for reading.

I’m sure many will agree with me when it comes to reading, unless you’re reading to or with someone, that it can be a very solitary, oftentimes an isolating, pursuit. While there is a connection achieved with reading to or with someone, I still find it’s not quite the same as reaching the goal of finishing a book and then coming together to discuss it with a group.

Of course book clubs aren’t the beginning and ending of bookish interactions. There are also book blogs, online book groups, and forums, which offer a level of connection. I’ve participated in all of these mediums, going so far as creating my own (again with the creating), for several years now. I’ve found they’ve offered a level of pleasure that comes from camaraderie with like-minded folk, even when it’s something as basic (and dare I say anti-social) as lurking around blog posts.

As wonderful as those forms of connection are, I find they’re not enough for where I feel I am at this point in time, and I wonder if I’ll be able to find a book club that fits further down the line.

Yet for all my pining away for bookish gatherings, I also find reasons for not wanting to be a part of a book club. Being told what to read, for me, has its limitations. It can vex me when I have a time limit, or when it’s something I really don’t want to read, but this mostly happens after reading several books. My best, and worst, example comes with reading classic fantasy. Three books are my limit and after that I need to change genre or I will be too aggravated to read for a while. It’s all the clichés. They drive me nuts!

I’m starting to feel as though I’m ranting at everyone so here’s my conclusion – perhaps once I switch from the organiser mindset into the member mindset, my hesitation to look for or join another book club will end. Until then I think it might be safer to stick my head in a book while keeping an eye out for anything interesting that might help solve my problem of grieving over a book club.

If you’ve joined a book club, and left, what has been your experience? I’d love to hear about your experience with book clubs, whether it’s running one, being a member, joining up, leaving and grieving, or even if you’ve just wondered about them. Share with me.

Image by Ariel Camilo via SXC
Have something bookish you’d like to share with BA’s readers? We’re always looking for guest posters, regular contributors, and we’d love to hear from you.

2 thoughts on “BA Chat: In the Absence of a Book Club

  1. I’ve been in the same book club for over 15 years now. I think we’re pushing 20 years actually, none of us really keep track. We passed the 100 books read mark several years ago.

    Members have come and gone, but we’ve had the same steady group now for I think about six years. We don’t really have a single leader. I don’t think I could join a book club that had a single leader, though it would probably focus us much more on the actual book.


  2. I’ve tried, unsuccessfully, to organize a bok club for years. Committing to a title and meeting place has always been difficult. I satisfy my desire to discuss books via online friends, etc.


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