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Book Club Personalities

August 13, 2014

Lots of things going on here in Alanaland.  For one thing, my laptop, broken in odd little ways for a long time now, has gone even broke-ier, and I’m working on that, but it’s meant that I’ve been writing a lot less often than I’ve meant to.  I like the WordPress app, but not for posting.  However, it does save drafts, so I guess I’ll be using it more often, and then suffering the laptop when it’s time to post.  At least that will limit my stress.

Also, I was cleaning up some files and noticed that six months ago, I was making lists of what to read during any given month.  Oh yeah!  I used to do that!  It’s amazing how quickly I fell out of that habit–which means it was probably a New Year’s resolution.  However, I should really get back into it because, frankly, I am terrible at timing my book club selections.

Like the reading masochist I am, I am involved in five book clubs right now.  Here’s how I differentiate them:

1) “The online book club” – This is the one I’ve been running since 2008.  It was on LiveJournal and now it’s moved to a private group on Facebook.  We do a different theme every month, and a selection in that theme.

2) “The sci fi book club” – This is another one I run, in person, at my local library.  It’s actually a speculative fiction book club, but everyone always calls it a sci fi book club.

3) “The other sci fi one” – This is one through Meetup.com that’s a bit of a hike away.

4) “The library book club” – This is a book club that meets during the day through a local library that is primarily made up of retirees, and me.  (I sometimes joke that it’s “the old lady book club,” with me being one of the old ladies.)

5) “The Meetup book club” – This is also through Meetup.com but is local and women only.

2-5 generally meet within a three-day period, so it’s back to back book clubs, and then I end up putting all the books off because I’m afraid I’ll read them too soon and forget the details.  It ends up being a mess.

Sometimes I can double my selections, and I do that because sometimes, five book clubs is too many.  If we’re reading a sci fi selection in the online book club, I recommend it for the two sci fi clubs.  But next month, no go.  And then #5 added a second selection to next month’s reading, so…argh.

The thing is, each book club is a vastly different experience.  The combination of topics, books, and people create a personality for each book club that’s unique, so when people are surprised I’m in five books clubs, I think they don’t understand that it’s not like going to the same thing five times.  It’s more like board game days (which I also run), in that the combination of people and games means that we can play together almost every week and not get bored.

The library book club is primarily made up of retired teachers.  All women, although that’s not a requirement of the group.  They’re a cynical, liberal(?) bunch, articulate and opinionated and used to speaking in and to groups.  However, they’re primarily introverts, though perhaps time and their professions have burned away any shyness they may have had in the past.  They’ve been meeting a long time, I think, but welcomed me into their group with kindness and friendliness, something I hope I do with my own book clubs.

For the others, I got in on the ground floor.  It’s been a long time since the online group was new, and even when it was, it was an offshoot of another community, so we all knew each other–to a point.  The book club strengthened that acquaintance for many of us and turned us into real friends.  Of the ones who’ve been in the book club for a long time, I’ve met most of them in person, even meeting one face to face for the first time a few months ago during my trip to California.  They are the hardcore book nerds, mostly made up of voracious readers, with a couple of librarians and writers in the mix.  But they’re also long-time computers users; they know how to compose their thoughts.  This is a strength of the book club, I think, that the medium gives us the ability to put our thoughts down perfectly the way we want.  With posts, no one’s thoughts are lost; no one trips over anyone else’s words.

The two sci fi book clubs were created around the same time.  Having some distance between them, no one worries about stepping on toes.  The one in town has turned out to be primarily people I already knew through other venues.  The other one has a couple people who know each other, and a few random Meetup.com members.  Both are small groups, but a love of the genre(s) brings us together.

The women’s group is the most diverse: a stay-at-home mom here, a professional there.  Someone with a couple children; someone who never had any.  We have a scientist, a former cop, me the librarian, a former English major, a young woman with a degree in dance (and more).  The only thing we have in common is our gender and that we joined this book club.  These women are not hardcore readers like I’m used to with my online book club.  Although I’m sure some read a few books a month, I would not be surprised to find that a few only read our selection, or our selection and one more.  When we discuss the book, everything gels, but when we’re done, we’re done.  Everyone goes off in their own directions.

*

If you’ve decided to join a book club, know that each book club has its own personality.  Even my two sci fi book clubs have a drastically different feel to them.  As with all things, look for a good fit.  Don’t feel bad about walking away from something that doesn’t work for you.

Also?  Don’t join five unless you have a lot of free time.

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