Many thanks to Books to the Ceiling whose post today pointed to the wonderful cartoon below and the New York Times article that accompanied it.The NYT article points out that book group troubles usually don't have much to do with books.
In my experience of both face to face and online discussion groups, it is often a clash of personalities, and once or twice something that goes a little deeper, that disrupts the harmony of the group. Newcomers for example can inadvertently step on the toes of those who have been members for much longer. Moderators can offend by their response in a dispute netween members too.
The groups I belong to all read crime fiction, and perhaps that does make choices a bit easier. In the online groups, which are larger, we get to vote on books to read, and then of course if they don't choose a book you like (or can get hold of) you are free to decide not to read it.
In the face to face group we have a roster of choosers ( we have only 8 members) and then we all try to read the book in the next month.
I think one of the things that has to be part of getting on in all book groups is tolerance. Even when you all read crime fiction, your tastes will widely vary. And just because you don't like a book, doesn't necessarily mean that every one else will hate it, or that if they do actually like it, they are somehow undiscriminating.
One of the things I've thought about is whether a discussion group set up in your work place would actually work. I'm not sure that formalising your discussion about books would result in you and your work colleagues getting closer together. I share books with some colleagues whom I know like crime fiction, but it is an informal exchange of books. Once you formalise the discussion then other work-place related factors may come into account - e.g. your position in the company, who chose the book, who chose not to read it etc. Also a decision by someone to no longer be part of the group may result in acrimony and work place division.
What do you think?
My experience of face to face book groups is that everyone tried really hard, but there just wasn't any chemistry between the members, and so it felt a bit like hard work!
I am a member in a couple of online book groups and they are pretty flexible in that if I don't read the book for whatever reason it's no big deal, mainly because interaction continues in the other threads at the group. The reading group is not the only time we chat, and therefore the ongoing relationships are not defined by the once a month meeting to discuss books!
I love those informal discussions where you discover a common link between yourself and another reader, and the much more excited conversation that can follow such a discovery!
Love the cartoon though!
I left one f2f group due to the never ending arguments. People seemed to take it too much to heart if their selection wasn't liked and things got very personal. Those conversations seemed to happen more than the "gee isn't it great we found this book to like" conversations.
I wouldn't join a workplace book group. Not sure why but it sounds like it could end badly.
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It is mainly personalities that clash in the book groups I belong to. That or someone says something that someone else takes in a way it wasn't meant.
I think personality clashes come as a surprise to most book discussion group participants. I suspect too that in online groups we actually "get along" with some people whom we would not like in a face2face situation.
Thanks for your thoughts
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