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Break up with your book club

What happens when a book club’s members are mismatched – when the majority wants pop-lit and Oprah’s picks versus the classics, or when one member is found without an anecdote to contribute to a conversation about soiled Pampers? The New York Times‘s Joanne Kaufman writes about book clubs gone bad:

Who knew a book group could be such a soap opera? said Barb Burg, senior vice president at Bantam Dell, which publishes many titles adopted by book groups. You’d think it would just be about the book. But wherever I go, people want to talk to me about the infighting and the politics.

Sometimes the problem is a life-stage mismatch among group members. I know of a group where all but one member has young children, said Susanne Pari, author of the novel The Fortune Catcher and the program director at Book Group Expo. They talk for 15 minutes about the book and then launch into a discussion of poopy diapers and nap times and preschool.

Esther Bushell, a professional book-group facilitator, says that one woman left a book club because she couldn’t see herself sitting around and talking about a book — instead, she was looking to network.

Another woman decamped because she wanted to read more chick lit. I hate to sound ponderous, Ms. Bushell said, but I have a certain moral obligation. I don’t feel I can be paid for leading a discussion about The Devil Wears Prada