Sunday, July 15, 2018


Heisenberg talked a little bit about it. Schrodinger had his cat. Or you could look to the Hawthorne experiments and their effect. None of them exactly have to do with my old book club, but it seemed that the more you paid attention to the book club, the worse it got.

When I joined, it was already several years running and I had been invited a couple of times before. They tried to limit their numbers to about 12, and met once a month. There were loose themes over the course of a year. We moved alphabetically through the members by last name, and that person would pick the book and host the following month. Simple and fair.

I always just called it "my book club" or sometimes "Rachel's book club" since Rachel was the person who invited me. As time went by, it became more and more "Francine's book club" because she made book club a regimented strict every four week gathering. But not yet. At the beginning when I joined, it was good. We read memoirs. Books we should have read in school. Banned books (in the end, our summation: "Books that really needed to be banned" because so many of them were so bad...).

I met people through book club that I still am friends with, but mostly just on facebook since everyone's lives are busy. And that's what made book club fall apart.

First, Jenny left because we all offended her. As a group. I don't even remember the book but we wound up talking about race relations and she was a little bit, tiny bit, racist. But people leave and join regularly.

Then, I had my book out on the coffee table one day when the fiancee of a friend of mine saw it and essentially joined my book club. I couldn't say no. It was a huge mistake. 

Then, Rachel started inviting more of her friends from her other circles--church, knitting groups--including two men, totally queering the vibe of what had been an all women's social club. Rachel also suggested that due to her house being the biggest (meaning: nicest) and best set up for entertaining (meaning: full bar) that it should just be at her house from now on (meaning: control). Her house was the nicest and the most inviting, it was true.

Francine, obviously threatened by this move, decided that we should plan out our meeting dates for the entire upcoming year. Scratch that. She planned them out and printed them on bookmarks with the acronym IITBCSIRALOBAM on the other side. She explained: I'm in this book club so I read at least one book a month. Lol, right?

Some long-standing members bailed right then. Rachel invited more of her people. Then that fiancee of a friend of mine, remember her? She got incredibly pissy about my existence and when it was her turn to host, told me I wasn't invited to book club that month. This upset ALL the other members (meaning, the members who cared about the books, not the weird knitting and choir member friends who just came for the full bar and great food). Fiancee was told to put on her big girl panties or find a new book club.

She found a new book club.

Francine adopted a baby...and brought him to every meeting (no one else brought kids, ever, because it wasn't a mommy and me group, it was a fucking book club).

Side conversations started, outside of book club. Rachel was sick of Francine. Francine didn't like Rachel's new friends. Beth didn't want the men there but didn't know how to say that.

And then the Nine Stories fiasco, subtitled: "Everyone knows more about Salinger than you do".

I was done. I had made the mistake twice of nominating books I loved and each time had gotten slapped down.

I quietly withdrew, and found out from Rachel at coffee a couple months later that the whole thing had fallen apart and was now a knitting circle.

I've had other things evolve over time--my mah jongg group disintegrated after 12 years of active play. People move, change, get busy, have new ideas. It's ok. But I'll never do another book club. Nope.


  1. "it seemed that the more you paid attention to the book club, the worse it got." Perfect. Tim started a small book group with about four other people and I went once or twice. Then one woman, who was moving away and selling her house, invited the woman to whom she sold said house AND LEFT HER WITH US. It was horrific. The group dissolved "naturally" rather than deal.

  2. I really feel you should submit this as a personal essay somewhere; it deserves wider readership (maybe change a few names so you don't get any death threats).

  3. What a story! I see why you don't want to join another.

  4. Oh dear. I have such fond memories of my bookclub. I think we all do. It's just that people kept moving away.

    I agree with Helen's suggestion.

  5. And with this, you've reinforced all my arguments for never joining a book club! And I agree: listen to Helen.