If you belong to a book club, inevitably, there comes a month when it’s your turn to pick the book. Over time, you learn that this can be a trickier task than you anticipated.
Obviously, you want your fellow members to enjoy reading the book. I, personally, can’t always guess what people will like. Last year, I chose Madeline Miller’s Circe, which was an Amazon Editor’s Pick. Several people in my club had never read Homer or studied Greek myth and recognized none of the characters. That meant they found the book hard to follow and really disliked it. Maybe they enjoyed disliking it. That would be fine too.
The book can’t be too long. Some people in my book club complained when a member chose Amor Towles’s wonderful Lincoln Highway, which according to Amazon, is 588 pages. After that, we wound up setting a limit of 400 pages.
The book has to be available in the local library. Believe it or not, someone in my book club told me she’s never going to buy another book. I realize that doesn’t sound much like a person who’d join a book club, but it turns out some people join just for the excuse to get out and socialize. And, of course, some people are on a limited budget. As an aside, my daughter-in-law belonged to a “book club” that never read a book. They did, however, consume a fair amount of wine and have a good time.
The book has to be substantive enough to discuss. Some books are fun to read but don’t leave much to talk about. Generally, you need a thematic or plot issue that connects to club members’ lives. For instance, my club was interested in issues around interracial adoption portrayed in Celeste Ng’s Little Fires Everywhere.
Once you’ve chosen a book, there’s an art to leading the discussion too. I don’t have many thoughts about that at the moment, but Erin Miller provides good advice at ThoughtCo: How to lead a book club discussion
This week, I led a discussion of Richard Osman’s The Thursday Murder Club, and I’m pleased to say things went well.