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Sunday Salon: Book Clubbing

After enjoying deep blue Spanish skies and temperatures in the high twenties for the last two weeks, I expected to start shivering the minute we landed back in the UK on Wednesday. I also expected to find the trees at our house were well on their way to the autumn show of colours. But what’s this – warmth and sunshine? And the grass is still growing and most leaves are still on the branches. It means I can delay getting the sweaters out of the cupboard for a few weeks yet I hope.

What I can’t delay is getting prepared for the book club meeting in a few weeks where I am leading the discussion on Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’m not sure how the club members are going to react to this book because I saw a few wrinkled brows when I said it was by an author from Nigeria. So I want to make sure I go equipped with good discussion points.

Which brings me to a question about your experience with book clubs and what the expectations are for the person whose choice of book you are reading. This is my first book club ever (not for want of trying but that’s a very long story) and I didn’t know what to expect. For the first two months it seemed the person who had nominated the book took the lead in discussion and had come prepared with talking points. One woman, who used to work in publishing, had clearly spent a lot of time thinking and researching her chosen title. I used that as my model when it came to my first choice (Margaret Attwood’s Possession) and found interviews in which Attwood talked about the book from which I read extracts.

But since then we’ve also had a few months where the club member hasn’t done any preparation. They didn’t even seem prepared to introduce the book, explaining why they chose it for example. When gently pushed, all they could say was “i thought it would be fun to read”.

It was left to the rest of the club members to throw a comment or discussion point into the ring otherwise we would have had an incredibly short meeting.

What happens with your groups – do people come with questions prepared in advance? is there an expectation that if it’s your selection, that you will kick off the discussion? Do you do any research outside of reading the book?  Do you have any tips to share on how I can make sure we don’t have long silences or people end up having side conversations about why the school bus was late that morning….


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