Book group dilemma

My book group has shrunk in size, and I’m now facing a dilemma. Grow it or leave it? One of the members recently expressed dissatisfaction at the lack of seriousness – people showing up without having read the book, and showing up not ready for a good discussion. I realized I’ve been batting fifty/fifty for a little while now. Last year I read ’em all, but this year there’s a higher proportion of books that I don’t like. And really, if I don’t like a book, there’s no way I’m going to finish it.

Our most recent book group meeting was pretty unfortunate. I actually read the book – in fact, I spent weeks struggling through it. But my kid vomited that morning, my spouse was working overtime, and on top of that, we were expecting house guests. So I didn’t go, and neither did one of the other four – which left two people, one who had read the book and one who had only gotten part of the way through.

The two things we need, if book group is to keep going, is: 1) more serious members; and 2) one or more people to enforce our rules. I don’t want to be a rule-enforcer. Too burned out by life generally.

Am I really a book group person? I’m not sure. I wouldn’t be in book group if the selection of books, generally speaking, wasn’t so fabulous. I get exposed to books I would never otherwise read, like The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Affinity, and What is the What?

Here’s our list for the past three years:

2010-2011
> 1. other voices, other rooms – truman capote (august 3)
> 2. south of broad – pat conroy
> 3. affinity – sarah waters
> 4. tam lin – pamela dean
> 5. the housekeeper & the professor – yoko ogawa
> 6. logicomix: epic search for truth – apostolos doxiadis
> 7. the forgotten garden – kate morton
> 8. brick lane – monica ali

2009-2010
Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis
Jamie Ford, Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
Gwyneth Jones, Life: a novel
Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Marge Piercy, Woman on the Edge of Time
May Sarton, A House By the Sea

List 2008-2009
June 17, 2008
Animal, vegetable, miracle : a year of food life
Kingsolver, Barbara

July 29, 2008
What is the what : the autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng : a novel
Eggers, Dave

September 9, 2008
The beautiful things that heaven bears
Mengestu, Dinaw

October 21, 2008
Moral disorder : stories
Atwood, Margaret Eleanor

December 2, 2008
Let the Northern Lights erase your name : a novel
Vida, Vendela

January 13, 2009
If on a winter’s night a traveler
Calvino, Italo

February 24, 2009
Cat’s Cradle
Vonnegut, Kurt

April 7, 2009
Oh pure and radiant heart
Millet, Lydia

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