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.