This week's BTT topic:
Have you ever been a member of a book club? How did your group choose (or, if you haven't been, what do you think is the best way to choose) the next book and who would lead discussion?
Do you feel more or less likely to appreciate books if you are obliged to read them for book groups rather than choosing them of your own free will? Does knowing they are going to be read as part of a group affect the reading experience?
The only book clubs I've ever been a member of are the Book of the Month Club and the Literary Guild. And I occasionally look at some of the Yahoo book groups – does that qualify? Never actually belonged to a book club that gets together in the flesh.
My husband used to teach English at a small college in the South, and he was once asked to lead the discussion at the faculty wives' book club. I went along to the meeting and that one experience sort of put me off the idea of book clubs forever after. Somehow I was expecting a little more discussion about the book and a lot less gossip. But hey, that's just me.
M. and I did once belong to a group that got together at irregular intervals to read plays. But it was usually just dinner and a play – not much discussion about the work being read. Whoever was hosting that evening's reading generally selected the play, and we tried to keep it to fairly light stuff – Noel Coward, Neil Simon, and the like. Although we did read some Shakespeare and a couple of Greek comedies. It was great fun – we found that there were some surprisingly good actors in the group; but eventually the logistics of getting everybody together killed our enthusiasm. When you live in the Washington DC area, and group members have to travel from the hinterlands of Maryland and Virginia, any kind of gathering has its problems.
But I don't have anything against the idea of book clubs in general. I think they could be very enjoyable, under the right circumstances. And I think if I were a member of a reading group, I might read a little more carefully. You never know – somebody might actually want to discuss the book.