First Rule of Book Club: Don't read Middlemarch! Stuffy 19th century literature is a turn-off for readers.
With no rules written down or otherwise, both of the groups I attend - hello The White Swan Readers (WSR), greetings The Oxford Centre Reading Group (OCRG) - seem to run pretty smoothly though I have to say that there are generally some moans and groans as soon as 19th century literature is mentioned - I seem to remember there were one or two moans and groans when it was suggested we read Dickens Bleak House.
But perhaps we are doing it all wrong and should take a leaf out of the book (no pun intended) of THE MIDDLE CLASS HANDBOOK website who offer the following advice to ........
'help members keep discussions on track and prevent the collapse of their club'.
- Avoid Middlemarch at all costs: It is the death knell for a book club. Attempt anything pre-1900 and over 450 pages and your book club will shrivel up and die.
- Beware meandering group members, they should be told to stick to the material in hand. Too many allow conversations to slide away from narrative structure and character development into gossip and what's on tv.
- Ditch the over-opinionated friend: The point of a book club is to talk about the book. None of this is possible if one member insists on shrieking 'It’s an allegory!!! It’s a bloody allegory, why are we still talking about this?’
- Keep alcohol to a minimum, it's nice to be out on a weekday and one more glass won't hurt, but it's easy to get carried away. Soon the book discussion is dispatched within ten minutes and the rest of the evening is spent dissecting husbands and exes and polishing off another bottle or two.
- Film and television adaptations are a big no-no: Can’t we just watch the film? What about the BBC adaptation on DVD?
- And remember ..........
The book club that drifts away from books towards discussions of Sean Bean is destined for failure.'
Any 'rules' you'd add?