Book club anxiety

Last week I joined the still new (and still very new, to me) Yelp book club for a second meet up in Bennu. In theory, we were there to discuss Bluebeard: The Autobiography of Rabo Karabekian by Kurt Vonnegut but since we all quite enjoyed it there didn’t seem to be much to discuss. The strongest criticisms were, “The writing style gave me lots of opportunities to put it down, which I did, so I read it slowly” and “He uses a lot of italics.”

If everyone likes a book then I’m not sure what you say about it. It’s definitely much easier to complain at length about a book you didn’t like than it is to spend a long time praising a book that you did. The idea of looking up book club talking points for future reads was suggested, so I guess next month we’ll do that.

So the pressure’s on because this time around it was my turn to choose a book. I nearly chose Ruby by Cynthia Bond, I nearly chose Things We Have in Common by Tasha Kavanagh, I nearly chose The Gracekeepers by Kirsty Logan. I didn’t choose any of those, although I’ll almost certainly read them all at some point. Instead, I chose Mr Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt.

Now, I have book club anxiety. I didn’t think I’d have that until one of our book club members said that she would find it really difficult to pick a book, and now, suddenly I do. What if people don’t enjoy it? Sure, that might make it easier to discuss but I’m making people read something they might hate. I mean, I guess they could just not read it but I want them to enjoy it. Also, I want to enjoy it, obviously – so does that make me selfish?

Fortunately, it’s now too late, because the book has been named and quite like orders have been placed, copies have been downloaded onto Kindles and people could even be reading it already. I am. So far it’s pretty damned weird, which is what I was going for. I’m not sure I could go so far as to say I’m enjoying it though (I’m only about 20 pages in at the moment). Hopefully, that will change.

Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist
I nearly chose Ruby because it’s been shortlisted for the Bailey’s Prize. The Portable Veblen looks good too but it’s too long.

I chose it because I remembered it had been on a list of good, weird books. As had The Gracekeepers, which had the added advantage of being written by a Kirsty Logan, who is local to Glasgow – I’m not sure why I decided against that, possibly because I thought some of the themes were a bit too close to other books the group had read recently. I nearly chose Things We Have in Common because I’d happened to read the blurb recently in Waterstones and it sounded delightfully creepy but it turned out to be a little shorter than I wanted. I nearly chose Ruby because it’s shortlisted for The Bailey’s Prize but I decided I’d rather wait and see who the winner was.

Perhaps that’s giving it more thought than it needed, though. There was a certain amount of temptation to just pull something off my shelves that was already on my to-read list but that didn’t seem entirely fair. How would you choose a book for a book club?


3 thoughts on “Book club anxiety

  1. Until your post, it never even occurred to me that if I were choosing a book for a book club, I might want to choose one that I hadn’t read myself. But I guess it does make sense not to choose one of my favourites: I would probably find it hard if it were torn apart, but I don’t know how else I would choose it. I suppose the only other choice would be to pick a book that I had read and enjoyed but didn’t necessarily have a huge emotional investment in, or maybe a good opportunity to reread one of the many books I thought might be better served on a second reading?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I never thought about it until you mentioned it so I’m not sure how I would choose now that you mention all that is involved. I think I would probably choose something that I had already read just because I have had lots of books that look interesting and then aren’t and I wouldn’t want to be stuck reading a book that I hated or know that I had done the same thing to other people.
    If the book has good reviews in general, then I think it’s pretty safe to assume that wouldn’t be the case though.
    Either way, I hope you enjoy the experience and if the book turns out to not be the best thing you’ve ever read, enjoy picking it apart in your club 🙂


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