The pressure of the Book Club

My first blog post. I guess I better talk about something not too controversial, but a bit opinionated. Here goes…

I’ve been in a book club for about four years now. Sounds like the start of a 12 step program. Right? Actually it’s not that bad. We’re all old mates. We’re all male. We all play tennis. So it’s kind of like a night at the pub, but not in a pub. And we don’t drink beer. Although we do drink some wine, eat cheese, crackers and other sundry nibbles. And we talk about the book du jour after some initial catching up banter.

We choose in sequence. As in – ‘It’s your turn next’. But lately the choosing has been getting a bit pressurised. You really don’t want to choose an absolute turkey. And hear your friends rip it to bits. Which we all do, but only IF the book warrants it. And in fairness we do read the book beforehand – unlike some ‘book clubs’ we hear about – anecdotally.

But back to the pressure. You research the 100 best books of all time for random classics by obscure eastern European authors (typically dead). You look frantically at the latest book reviews in the Sunday papers. You write down the names of prospective candidates, then lose them. Then do some research again. So after the latest choice is rated by the group (and the person who chose it always goes last, sort of like rebuttal in court after cross examination) you come up with a ‘gem’, pray it lives up to the billing, then as you read it yourself begin to relax a bit and think ‘actually, this is not so bad, really’. In theory you dont read ahead – we all take the journey together

And in fairness we have read some absolute five star classics using this method, we’re all still (just about) talking to one another, and I can in fairness say i’ve been taken out of my reading comfort zone. But I do still wake up uneasily from time to time, with the pressure of ‘Adrian’s choice’ looming. Part of the deal I guess….


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