by TaNisha Webb
Well believe or not, some genres works better for book clubs than others and it’s not always easy to decipher exactly what the issues are in the beginning because it may not have a thing to do with the book reading badly at all. Confused yet? Let me explain how my book club discovered how we just weren’t into a genre…or two…or more!
Once my book club got up and going after the first year, we had our first experience figuring out that we were just not into a specific genre, which were autobiographies. Now most of the time hearing someone talk about their life story may be interesting but sometimes it just doesn't translate very well on paper. One of my former members was a die hard political nut that loved autobiographies about political figures. We had all read autobiographies individually but never in a book club setting. That book was so dry that I couldn't even finish the book. NONE of the other book club members finished the book either. In previous months that had never happened before so we talked about what the issues were with the book for us and decided that autobiographies just wasn't a genre that we wanted read and discuss from that meeting forward. So we never read that specific genre as a group again. Now I know what you are thinking, “Dang, couldn't you have given it a few more tries before you decided not to read an entire genre?” Nope! Our book club was just not into autobiographies nor political figures. It was probably one of the genres that individually none of us read as much. Also, because we made a conscious decision to read new and underexposed authors, it’s highly unlikely that we were going to come across an autobiography by someone that hadn't quite made a name for themselves.
TaNisha Webb is the publisher and editor in chief of Book Club 101 Magazine. She's also the author of The Ultimate Book Club Experience: How to Create & Maintain a Successful Book Club and the president of the KC Girlfriends Book Club
After that, we came across a short story book that we decided to try out. Not bad at all but ummm…we couldn’t keep the storylines straight because there were way too many stories. I mean, we could not discuss a thing during the meeting because no one could remember one story from the next unless it just happened to be one of our favorites. Short story books in general are really hard for book clubs to discuss for that reason. Unless the book is written in a sense that the storylines are all intertwined where they are separate stories but they all have some of the same characters, it’s really a lost cause for my group. Short stories are truly for people that like a quick read when they don’t have a lot of time.
As my group’s taste for books were better defined we figured out what worked best for our group. We went back and reevaluated our past book discussions and came up with the genres that we collectively liked to read as a group. This is what help us select books that we could actually discuss. Now this doesn't mean that we are 100% against reading books outside of what we like. We tend to travel to literary events and we do talk to all authors, get to know them, which some of them do a great job getting us to purchase their books that we will more than likely recommend to the rest of our group.
Every book club is different, even if they are a part of a chapter book club, because the dynamics changes within each group. Naturally, book clubs will figure out which genres works best for their group. This generally happens within the first two years of forming a book club. My book club enjoys reading books in various fiction genres and we sometimes dabble with memoirs. However, this may not be true for some book clubs that enjoy a variety of fiction and nonfiction genres. Sometimes it is best to read a few books in the same genre before deciding that the genre does not work for your group and sometimes you will know right away. You should really take into consideration if it is the entire genre or specifically the author that does not work for your group and why.
Book discussions had during meetings are truly what makes the book club meeting worthwhile. Lagging book discussions, time after time, can be harmful to a book club because no one wants to come together to talk about how they hated the book all the time! Bad book selections can make members become disinterested in the book club and stop coming. Figuring out which genres works best for your book club is the key to literary happiness.
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