Wednesday, 31 December 2014

5 reasons & a few flimsy excuses for not belonging to a book club

 Ding-dong merrily quite high… I have a post-Christmas pile of soon-to-be-lost hours of intrigue and edification. Such joy.

I maintain I’m easy to buy for…books, music, food or alcohol… with the occasional scented candle (preferably not floral… something sapid like lemongrass and ginger… orange and cilantro…lime and basil — perhaps I’ll repost this in November… just in case you lose the note you just took). Life’s essentials: ambrosial combinations of words, mouth-watering sometimes foods, heavenly scents and grog. No excuses or adjectives for that last one on the list. In my life, it’s always pinot grigio o’clock somewhere. And this year, I received all four of those essentials. In abundance. Yay, and verily yippee ya-hoo I say.


A delectable mixture of fiction, non-fiction and poetry was lovingly selected for me, and on Christmas Day I was delightedly informing my sister-in-law’s sister-in-law of this fact when she began the conversation I have so often had:

“Oh, well you must belong to a book club then.”

“Ummm, no, I don’t.”

“Really? Well you absolutely should.”

Should I? Why do you think that?”

You see I have never belonged to a book club. I’ve often thought about it. I’ve talked about it. I’ve even tried to find one I could join. But, truth be told, I’ve never followed through. So it’s with thanks to Shirley that I hereby explain why.

1.     I don’t always finish what I read. Some of you are aghast at that confession aren’t you? Nope. If it doesn’t grab me, I dump it. There’s too much great stuff to waste time on anything that’s badly written. So if I was in a book club, I’d feel obligated to plough through pages that annoy the utter be-hooey out of me or leave me cold. What a waste of good reading time.

2.     Following hard on the heels of the last point, I understand that the theory behind committing to read the entire book list is that stepping outside what’s usual for me is mind-expanding and beneficial.  I suspect, however, that reading stuff that bores me up a drainpipe might just make me the weensiest bit belligerent, and then I’d end up being the nay-saying party-pooper of the group. Nobody wants a nay-saying party-pooper in their group. They’d be better off if I stayed up my drainpipe.

3.     I fear landing with book-knobs. No, I don’t mean book snobs, I definitely mean book knobs — people who only read what they think makes them at least 10 per cent
smarter or hipper than anyone else…or at least appear to be 10 per cent smarter or hipper than anyone else. You know, the ones who say things like you really MUST read Proust because wah wah wah… and… Oh dear me no, I don’t waste my time on derivative things like THAT but I did just finish that plotless streams-of-consciousness post-modern deconstructionist novel recently translated from ancient Tibetan by a barista from Brunswick.  Total knobs.

4.     I have an even greater fear that a book group may be a whole new way for me to be my own worst enemy. My natural inclination to over-prepare and over-think could lead me down the rabbit-hole of checking Goodreads and researching ABR to see what others think, which behaviour would expose me to the very real danger of disappearing up my own butt-hole.

5.     I worry that while I’m reading, instead of just floating with the rhythm of the structure and absorbing the music of the language, I’ll be thinking about what I’m thinking. That’s not fun. That’s anti-fun. I don’t want to think about what I think while I’m reading. I just want to read.

6.     I’m aware that many book groups are largely social, with the reading only an incidental part of the drinking. Naturally, I’m all in favour of that, but what if they all drink sauvignon blanc? Okay, so I might be starting to get to the flimsy end of the list here, but seriously the only upside of sauvignon blanc is that I can sit on just the one glass all night. I. Don’t. Love. Sauvignon. Blanc.

7.     What if they all find out that I’m an editor and start trying to get me to read the manuscripts they have had on the back-burner since they took that creative writing class at the community centre a few years ago?

8.     What if they all hate me?


 So there it is. What do you reckon? Was Shirley right? Am I candidate for book club membership or is the Groucho Marx approach the right way to go?


  1. 1. I don't finish every book I start either, and i have no problem with that. I do, however, keep them under my bed for a couple of years. Just in case, you know.
    3. The book knobs. Oh yes. Maybe we were exposed to a few too many of them in the publishing industry. Well, you could never call ME a book knob, what with my complete collections of Jackie Collins and Sidney Sheldon.
    4. Yes, you would over-prepare. That's who you are. But it's usually a good thing.
    6. Just BYO
    8. No they won't.

    1. I'd have you in my book club any day. We could bring a bit of Jackie Collins class to any bunch of wannabe-bes.

  2. First thing, Groucho is NEVER wrong so that probably pre-empts the rest of this response...but hey, wtf

    1. No-one always finishes what they are reading. Anyone who claims they do...see rule 3
    2. Every group needs a nay-sayer, they just don't often want one
    3. Book-knobs are prime for baiting...never let a chance go by to wind up a wanker
    4. You've already recognised this 'fault' so avoid or exploit it mercilessly
    5. Now you are overthinking it...however, occasionally I start thinking of how I would like the movie to be made in the middle of reading a good book and it drives me nuts but I can't help it, so I know how you feel
    6. If they all drink Sauv Blanc, consider it an opportunity for re-education...mind you, wine knobs are even less tolerable than book knobs so be careful
    7. "Happy to read your manuscript. Mates' rates are $100 and hour".
    8. Of course they won't hate you! You are a non-finishing, nay-saying, knob-hating, over-thinking, intellectual wine snob. Just what every book club needs. What's there to hate?

    Happy reading :-)

    1. I can count on you for a bit feet-on-the-ground cynicism... One of the many things I love about you

  3. I think you should go for it for the following reasons:
    1. I bet half of them don’t finish every book they read and just wing it!
    2. Everyone needs a nay-saying party-pooper. It would be pretty boring if everybody was an aye-nodding, personality-lacking drone!
    3. Nobody likes a book knob. Therefore, it is your DUTY to take these idiots down a peg – or ten!
    4. I am sure you can manage to pull back, avoiding this situation!
    5. Your tendency to do this might stand you in good stead , especially if you are reading a particularly crappy book!
    6. Can’t you bring your own Pinot Grigio? Sod what anyone else drinks, (or thinks for that matter)!
    7. You will have to say that YOU are a Manuscript Knob and cannot read theirs for fear of causing offence!
    8. Of course they won’t hate you! You will be like a breath of fresh air! Go on, go for it!

    1. LOL ... I loathe aye-nodding personality lacking drones!

  4. I once lived with an excitable Dane who felt the need to push me into undertaking more "structured social activities". I think what you speak of is what he had in mind. I ran from the suggestion (in my chair, as I sat). But then again finding lovely people to talk about books is a great and warming thing. So I think it starts with finding the right peeps...

  5. Absolutely... Peeps the key... And maybe not people I'm already friends with ... Otherwise it WOULD be a wine drinking & chatting club

  6. I am with ya, sister. Especially number 8.
    So, pour yourself a glass of pinot grigio, and crack open one of those babies and read your way.
    Happy New Year!

  7. Book knobs! HAHAHAH.

    Yeah..number 8 is what keeps me from doing a lot of things.