Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Uncivil Book Groups

The New York Times article "Fought Over Any Good Books Lately?" reveals the hidden world of book groups. No, that doesn't mean the civilized and earnest discussion of classic literature; the NYT article uncovers the rivalries, spats, infighting, powerplays, and just plain dirty politics of belonging to a book group. Who knew? Well, anyone who has ever belonged to a bookgroup, that's who apparently.
The article goes on to say,
"Yes, it’s a nice, high-minded idea to join a book group, a way to make friends and read books that might otherwise sit untouched. But what happens when you wind up hating all the literary selections — or the other members? Breaking up isn’t so hard to do when it means freedom from inane critical commentary, political maneuvering, hurt feelings, bad chick lit and even worse chardonnay."
Not to say that you can't find a group that will fit your style, not just style of reading, but style of group interaction. If you can't find a compatible group, there are bookgroup leaders that can be hired to troubleshoot the situation. These hired guns put a stop to the long-winded members, keep the group on task by cutting back on gossip and non-book related chat. That sounds kind of like going back to school to me. Pay money, listen to teacher, stop daydreaming and above all, don't fall asleep .
What about the snacks, you may ask? Well, that too can become a competitive event at these occasions. One bookgrouper interviewed for the NYT article says that even a tea time book meeting became a war of clotted cream and bigger and fancier teas.
The BHPL book groups are not like the book groups mentioned in this article. We are very civilized, democratic and so far, things have not devolved into an insult hurling fracas.

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