It happens to anyone who spends more than a few months in a book club, and it will probably happen to you.
You hate this month’s book. It’s too long or too short, or too dull. It’s got plot holes, the dialogue is stilted, or the storyline is unoriginal. It’s not your cup of tea, and you’ve got some decisions to make.
Should I finish the book?
Well, of course your time is your own, and book discussion clubs aren’t classrooms. Unless your book group’s most important rule is that you must finish every book, you could stop reading.
But first, consider that even if you don’t enjoy the book, you might be gratified by digging a little deeper as you read. Take notes about the aspects of the book you like most (or hate least) and the parts you can tolerate What patterns do you notice? Is it dialogue, characters, or plot weirdness that’s bugging you? Is it the prose in general? You’ll gain insights into your reading preferences and you’ll have some solid discussion points ready for the next meeting.
Can’t stand the idea of slogging through the rest of the book? You can skim to the end, watch a screen adaptation, or check out an online plot summary so you can still follow your group’s discussion. The audio version might also be more palatable.
Should I be honest in my discussion comments?
By all means, express your true opinions; a discussion in which everyone loves everything about a book is a pretty dull discussion. Best practice: speak respectfully, being mindful of those who loved – or chose – the book. Lead with a positive comment if possible. Alternately (or also), mention what you learned about your reading preferences as you evaluated the book.
This book is so bad – should I just not return to the book group at all?
Good question. Some things to consider when deciding whether to break up with your book club:
- What have I gained from past meetings? Human interaction is precious, and other members often share book suggestions.
- How long have I been a member of the group? Is this my first meeting, or my 50th? Is this the first book I’ve hated, or the 50th?
- How open are others in the group to my comments and opinions?
- How do I usually feel at the end of a meeting? Energized? Irritated? Very, very sleepy?
Don’t let the tail wag the dog.
There’s so much socialization of the reading experience. Book clubs online or in person, celebrity book clubs, podcasts, Bookstagram, Booktok – all of these media can be helpful, but in the end it’s you and the page. Although it might be worthwhile to finish a book that doesn’t immediately grab you, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. Story is a gift. Don’t let the wrapping get in the way.