Friday, 13 January 2012 11:55A cry for help—this one from a reader on our Facebook page. Its a fairly common book club problem. Recognize it?
I'm leading the discussion at my next book club—for a book I chose. But I found out most of the members didn't care for it. In fact, the organizer of my group hated it so much she wouldn't read or finish it. Kind of difficult to have discussion. Any advice would help.
Oops. It's your turn to lead the discussion...and no one likes the book. Even worse...YOU chose the book. What to do?
Start with the obvious—why don't members like the book? It can be as rewarding to explore the reasons you don't like a book as the reasons you do. And don't let people get away with "I just couldn't get into it" or "it was boring." The point is to be expansive, to engage in a give-and-take of ideas.
You disliked the book because of its...
Too wordy or difficult? Too clunky or awkward? Too overwrought? Too pompous?
Too slow getting off the ground? Too contrived? Too predictable? Too little plot (a character- or idea-driven novel).
Too undeveloped or one-dimensional? (No emotional or psychological depth) Too perfect? (Irritating or lack believability.) Too unlikeable? (Stubborn or immature...arrogant, selfish, or petty...even villainous, like Humboldt Humboldt in Lolita)
Too unfocused. Too much back and forth between time frames? Too much shifting between characters and points-of-view? Too many unrelated subplots? If not handled well, shifts can be confusing or interrupt the narrative flow.
Do the ideas, philosophy, worldview of the author or characters disturb you, go up against your own values? Maybe there are no ideas—the book is shallow, unchallenging, and offers no ideas worth thinking about.
A good discussion, whether it's a book you love or hate, helps clarify what types of works you prefer. Most important, though, good discussions often change minds. Who knows...you might decide you like the book after all.
Be sure to see our READ-THINK-TALK chart. It's a handy guide for helping you think about a book while you read.
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