Is anyone/has anyone ever been part of a book club?

I am sort of interested in checking one out, BUT, I’m a little intimidated. I’m a quiet, introverted, gender non-conforming 20 something and the majority of the Book Clubs on appear to comprised of white, upper class, retirees (people in the pics appears to be 50+) and several groups have a sort of elitist air about them (putting “we only read LITERATURE” in the about section, only meeting in upscale areas, etc).

While I search for one that better suits me; What has been your experience with book clubs?

Back in the late 90’s/early 00’s a bunch of my friends and I were having kids. We decided we needed to get out of the house regularly without our children so we formed a book club. At first we took turns hosting it at our homes. Then we decided we needed to really get out and started doing it at various casual dining places. We lasted about 3 years, I think. We had fun, but when kids get older people get busier.

That is my only experience with book clubs.

Have you considered getting a bunch of like-minded friends together, and set up your own book club?

Me and a friend are setting up a Buddhist book club (he’s a Buddhist, I’m not - but hey books are nice). Starting out with the Surangama Sutra; after that it’s the Madhyamaka.

I’m a member of one of the FYA book clubs. While, admittedly, the membership of group is mostly white, youngish women, the books tend to have some attempts at diversity. The books are YA, so that’s not everyone’s thing.

It’s a good group. I’ve also found that those arranged by a local independent bookstore draw different crowds as well, though I don’t have time in my life for more than one book regular group just now.

I’ve been to many book clubs over the years. Your first impressions (white, old, elitist)have a lot of truth to them. Sometimes they can be really dull and consist of people more interested in sounding smart instead of exploring or trying to expand upon all the different ways a book can be seen. Oftentimes they are not careful readers and take phrases out of context and somehow try to link it to some pet issue they have like feminism yet are not able to support the view with anything from the text. I’ve even been to ones where people come up with interpretations that only make sense because they haven’t actually finished reading the book.

I have found one club though that is pretty good in my area; but that is after visiting several that ranged form terrible to just plain dull.

I currently belong to a book club sponsored by the library. Majority women, mostly at or past retirement age (meets middle of the afternoon). We read mysteries, so not pretentious or scholarly, but often members have experience in the locale. Often fun.

I’ve been in a book club that’s been meeting monthly since February of 1984. It’s met somewhat irregularly since at least May of 1977. We continue to meet and continue to try vary what we do.

We read a lot of science fiction and fantasy. We’ve done many other sorts of books too. We’ve read ancient and medieval epics, children’s books, mysteries, recent mainstream books, classic mainstream books, graphic novels, short story collections, manga, web comics, and nonfiction. We’ve read things by our members and our members’ relatives and short story collections put together (and not published publicly) by our members. We did one meeting that was a poetry slam where we read our own poetry (and some non-poetry too). Three times we did a day-long Shakespeare taste test where one of our members picked three scenes from a Shakespeare play and showed us how it differed in five to seven different movie or filmed play versions. Since 1990, we don’t pick a book to read for December but just go to a restaurant in the afternoon to sit around and talk. Since 2008, one meeting a year is our movie day when we spend a day watching movies that we had each picked. Once we did a similar sort of TV day when spent a day watching TV sketches or shows that we had each picked.

Of course by now we’re mostly older people. That’s what happens if you successfully do anything for a long time. We’d be happy to have younger people, and we’ve had children of long-time members pick things for us to discuss and had them come to meetings. Would you like me to send you a complete list of everything we’ve done? Do you live anywhere within driving distance of Washington, D.C.? We’d be happy to have you come to a meeting.

I was in a library-sponsored book club for a few years after I moved here, after graduating from college. Most of the other members were old enough to be my mother, or even grandmother, and after several years, the facilitator moved away and the group became very cliquish, and after several passive-aggressive bullshit incidents that let me know that I was not welcome in their little Mean Girls club any more, I decided not to come back.


What’s your venue? Are you looking for a book club where people sit down across wood (or formica) tables from each other and discuss books, or just an online thingie?

How comfortable would you be at a book club mostly comprised of quiet gender-nonconforming middle-aged kinky people, with a few 20 and 30 year olds attending?

Part of the point of my post, I now realize, is that a book club is what you make it. It’s not necessarily true that you can find a book club that’s exactly what you want it to be. You may find one that’s close and it will evolve to be something closer to what you want. You may need to start a club yourself. This is how life works. You don’t know how your life will end up, so you don’t know how your book club will end up.

I joined a book club about a year ago from meetup. It was part of a lesbian meetup group.

We met in Panera once a month.

The majority of the others were older than me and white. All women, but that was by design. Not elitist, though. I kind of had the opposite problem. The books we read that I found trite, simplistic, and poorly-written were very popular with the group. The ones I thought were intricate and wonderful were seen as too long, too heavy, or too boring by a lot of the others. The people were nice and very welcoming and didn’t really prod you to join the conversation much if you didn’t want to.

Th thing was, though… it wasn’t really my thing, so I quit going. No harm, no foul. I discovered an author I now love, expanded my horizons a bit, and got out of the house to meet people. I’m pretty introverted, too, but I found it easier to talk to strangers when there was a predetermined subject instead of small talk. All-in-all, it was worth what I invested in it.

Few of my friends read very much and the one’s that do are too busy with work and kids.

This sounds like a really fun club - I’ve never been to one that’s really anything like it. The first book club I ever went to was maybe 14 years ago - I’ve been to several different ones in a couple different cities since then. None of them really lasted for very long; the one I go to now has been around for about 5 years - which is the longest.

Have you ever tried Goodreads?

I’ve been in several book clubs. They can be very different from each other and they can evolve over time.

I was in a women’s science fiction/fantasy book club in New York. Most of us were in our 30’s-40’s, mix of races but mostly white. Would definitely have welcomed genderqueer. It was elitist in the sense that we had a common “oh dear god, we are not reading Twilight or Shades of Grey under any circumstances” attitude, but we definitely read a mix of highbrow and lowbrow books, with an emphasis on female authors or protagonists. Two of the members were literature professors, which meant that there were people trained to evaluate structure and symbolism that the rest of us might have missed, but their opinions weren’t given any more weight than anyone else in the group.

Now I’m in a general-reader group in a small town in Maryland. When I joined it, it was women only and tended to run heavy into chicklit, which I’m not fond of. Five years later, it’s open to all genders and has a pretty broad range of books - I still focus on science fiction, but we also do memoirs, mysteries, history, etc. Ages range early 30’s to late 50’s, and this town is pretty much all white. I think we tend to pick books that are maybe a step up from causal reading, but we also read some pretty silly books and some intense books. People have some strong opinions, but no one is considered “right”. The only cliquish factor is that we all get annoyed at a couple of people who only show up when it’s a book they picked and don’t read any of the books that other people picked.

In both book clubs, people would spend 1-2 hours talking about the book (depending on how much we disagreed about it - books that half the people loved and half hated excite the most discussion) and then spent some time socializing and catching up on each other’s lives. When I joined each club, the latter part was pretty boring; I didn’t know anyone and couldn’t keep track of their relationships. It did feel like I was the odd one out in an established girl’s club. Over time, as I got to know them and vice versa, it became much more reciprocal. Now they’re cheering me on through a difficult job search, I’m cheering on the new author and blacksmith, and we all enjoy updates on whatever part of each person’s life they care to share.

I was in a book group through Meetup for a while, I left only because I moved away. It was a very easy going group. Most of us were probably between 20 and 40, if I’m remembering correctly and usually all female, but it was open to anyone and there were some men too. We met at a local Border’s cafe (yes, this was a while ago now, back when Border’s still existed) and usually read fiction. The group organizer chose the books, but took recommendations. I enjoyed it and found I read books I never would have otherwise - Broken for You, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, History of Love - are a few I remember.

When I moved and looked for new groups through Meetup, I didn’t have the greatest experience. Most groups seem to meet over dinner (one night members insisted while others were away from the table to split the bill, even though not everyone got a full meal and drinks) They like to read these 800+ page books, or insist they only read “Literature” which I got enough of in college. I keep thinking I should start my own group, but Meetup keeps upping the price, so I haven’t. I miss it though. The library groups do seem to filled with the 70+ crowd and the FYA seem to be a bit too young for me (even though I do enjoy some of the books).

Incidentally, the book group I’m in is loosely associated with the Mythopoeic Society:

By loosely associated with, I mean that while some of our members belong to the Society, most do not, and there are many Society members in the Washington, D.C. area who don’t belong to our book group. The Mythopoeic Society lists us as being the Society discussion group in the Washington, D.C. area. This occasionally gets us some people who know of the Society who then come to our meetings. The Society doesn’t care what books we discuss or anything else we do. The Society is a mixed fannish/scholarly group interested in the Inklings. In 1994 we served as the organizing committee for Mythcon, the annual Society convention, which was held near us. If you want to start a book group, perhaps there’s some national or international group you can loosely associate yourselves with.

Question: When your in a book club, do you have to buy the book or do people get them from the library?
Also how long does the group decide to stay on one book?

Usually the books we choose are available in public libraries, although rarely you might have to ask your local library to get it from some other library. Most of us were sufficiently well off to buy the book. On occasion the book chosen was out of print, so it was necessary to try an online used book website or see if it was in your local library. We didn’t spend more than a month on a book except in a couple of cases.