Is the purpose of a book club to pick books to discuss, or is it to pick books to like?

I hate when I go to book club and the first thing someone says is:

“I hated the book”

The books I typically “Like” are light hearted and the conflicts are not too egregious. Or a psych thriller that is just crazy enough to make it a page turner and surprise me in a good way. Or a book on personal growth that just makes me see things in a new light. But honestly, these books are not necessarily ones that I wish to discuss in a book club…these are books I read clearly for entertainment… I don’t have any expectations that these will be the great American novel. I don’t necessarily expect them to be “good”.

What is a “good” book? For me, it means the language has cadence- there is a rhythm to the sentences and their structure. it means the story makes sense, there are no plot holes. The author has started out with an idea and seen it though to conclusion, so continuity. The characters are true to themselves and show the appropriate growth or lack of. I think a book needs to be historically accurate if it is a historical fiction. If the book chooses to use multiple perspectives, all the perspectives have to have a clear and unique voice.,

The books I read for book club I expect to have a little gravitas- I expect that I will not like some of the things, because quite often good books come with real conflict. It is very hard to “like” harrowing situations, times when people treat others so poorly you want to cry at the inhumanity.

So, if you belong to a book club, what are the types of books that you want to read and discuss?

How important is it to “like” a book in a book club setting?

What makes a book “good”?

What does “like” mean to you?

Discuss

38 thoughts on “Like or Discuss

  1. We have found In our book club that we discuss less when everyone loves the book. it’s fine there though because it’s really more about the gathering than the book.
    When I was leading book discussions professionally I was taught to steer people away from declaring they hated the book before any other discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. For me, it’s to discuss, as much as to have your reading experience opened to choices you wouldn’t normally make.

    I don’t object to people expressing whether they like or dislike a book, it, so long as they make the effort to read it. It’s upsetting when members duck anything they think they won’t like, yet expect you’ll still read their selections. When it became clear I was one of only 2 or 3 people who could be relied upon to read the book every month, I decided to step back. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t survive Covid.

    I’d like a new one, but I’d be a lot pickier this time round.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. My book club stopped reading books because we kept all disliking the books we picked. Our tastes were too different. Now we just get brunch when we can get together at all.

    For me, there isn’t really one criteria to make a ‘good’ book, because each genre and subgenre has different expectations. What makes a good science fiction novel is different from what makes a good romance or mystery or historical novel. For the most part, I just want the book to be well-written and have interesting characters.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah…expectations. I’m reading two book club books…Madame Treymes (Wharton) and Exiles (baker Kline) but my expectations of reading an older book vs a newer historical fiction are quite different. And my thoughts are totally different as I read Greenwich park which is a psych thriller…good point

      Liked by 1 person

  4. When I belonged to a book club, we read many different types of books. I am an avid reader, however, would never have chosen some of the books. I ended up enjoying all of them, and looked forward to discussing. However, most of the ladies did not read the book, and just wanted to visit. I ended up pulling out of the group and have been leery of book clubs since.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I quit reading “50 Shades of Gray” and “Twilight” and shared my dislike with a group of women who thought both books were wonderful. Neither one of them liked my comments either. That’s when I knew we didn’t match. I wished them well and left the book club. When I cannot say what I think or feel, I am at the wrong place.
    I wish you well!

    Liked by 3 people

  6. If someone declares they don’t like the book then no matter what my feelings are regarding it, I want to know why. In a book club setting I want the members to be able to articulate their reactions. Isn’t that the point? To discuss, and perhaps debate the merits or lack thereof and why?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The problem is I don’t think people articulate it well. Or, personally I don’t think the reason is good enough…😉like, one person in my club didn’t
      Ike radium girls because it was “sad”. To me that’s not good enough. What about the other merits of the book? Did it tell the story? Did you feel? Etc

      Like

  7. Everyone in my book club typically reads the books. I like the exposure to books I wouldn’t normally read but some are not my cup of tea. Yet some I like very much. We are free to express our opinions and don’t always agree. Maybe it’s because we were friends before the book club? We discuss the books but we aren’t overly analytical.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. This is an interesting question. I think we usually start with did you like/dislike the book question because it kicks off the discussion. If someone says they like it and someone else says they don’t, then you can get down to details. Choosing books for book club is really hard because you WANT that divergence of opinions and experience so that you can have a good discussion, but you also don’t want the book to be really dark/boring/tedious because then no one will read it.

    I do agree with the above comment that there’s less of a discussion when everyone loves a book. We all just sort of gush over what we like and there’s no real substance. But, hey, no substance means more time for snacks!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think a lot of it for me is the reasons why…if you tell me you didn’t like it because it was sad, I want more. But 100% agree that discussion is way better if half liked and half didnt

      Like

  9. I have never been part of a book club. One of my close friends in Palm Springs asked me join hers. I never did. At her book club, it seemed the emphasis was on food. They had to cook or bring food from the books they read.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I was in an outrageously fun book club many years ago. We enjoyed discussing not only the books but our lives and oh my, could we eat, drink, chat and make merry. I think it’s why I decided to write and everyone of those ladies still encourages my writing today. Anyway, we decided to read one book from every possible genre, such as mystery, scifi, horror, non-fiction, historical, and we even choose a smut novel to read (yes it was my favorite). I remember I had to cover it with a lunch bag when I took it on a trip because I would have been mortified to admit I was reading a book with a long haired stud on the cover kissing a barbie doll type. Good memories, thanks for tugging on them, hugs, C

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I like your description of a good book. I enjoy the writing. It has to be good writing and if it is, it can be on any subject. If it’s a novel, I’d say I have to like the characters. There does have to be a logical flow, and as you say, no plots holes. I adopted a new rule for myself about 5 years ago when I told myself that I was not required to finish a book. Up until that time, I always finished reading them even if I didn’t like them. But now, a book has to engage me as a reader and I have to like it or I’ll put it down. I give them a fair chance – usually read at least 50 to 100 pages, but if the author hasn’t captured me by then, well, I won’t continue reading. I’m not a member of book club and I doubt I ever will be in the rural area where I live, so i like to hear other people’s reviews and recommendations.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. We choose a variety of books and try to read books with some depth to them or historical interest. Often they are books that other people have recommended to them or that they have come across in reviews that sound interesting. Occasionally, the recommendations of others can be a disappointment. Frequently people will say, “Oh, I’m reading a book that I really enjoy right now…but it wouldn’t be good for a book club discussion.” I understand that. I love cozy mysteries, but I wouldn’t recommend them for a book club. I like our book club for many reasons, but especially because it encourages me to read books that I would not necessarily read for pleasure.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I also like my book club because I end up reading books that I would never have chosen on my own. I have really enjoyed a couple of them and am thankful that I was pushed to broaden my horizons. To me, it is like trying to eat a variety of vegetables- it’s good for me and I might even like some of them😉 There have been some books that I really liked and that one or more people in my book club strongly disliked. We were able to have really good discussions because both sides were able to elaborate on their opinions.

    Liked by 3 people

  14. I joined a couple book clubs last year. One is in another state and I attend via Zoom. Mostly we read history and historical fiction. It really is a discussion group and I enjoy that intellectual stimulation. No one ever says they “hate” a book.

    The other club is local and more about socializing. All the books are by female authors, but the genres vary considerably. We haven’t met the past two months, because even though everyone is vaccinated and boosted, they’re Covid-terrified. Well, one member has declared she hated those two books, but still wants to have a discussion to hear what others think. It irks me, and not just because I selected one of the books. Why not just say specifically what you didn’t appreciate about a book instead of just “hating” it? That is not intellectually stimulating!

    Liked by 2 people

  15. What I like about my Crime and Coffee Book club is that it broadens my mind. Even if the chosen book is one I don’t like (I read those ones backwards) I often learn so much during the discussion and often leave with a new appreciation

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m guilty of sometimes hating the book! Sometimes so much that I don’t even read it! But the reality is you have to have something to discuss…..and sometimes with my library club selections there isn’t much to discuss.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I totally get it. My relationship with my library book club is sporadic at best. The group has been together a long time (most of them are in their 70’s) and it’s a bit cliquey and sometimes too quiet if there is nothing much to discuss. But once when I attended the librarian announced that the next book (some obscure Canadian author) would be about two little kids (as in like 5 years old) getting lost in the wilderness in the winter and told from the perspective of the bear hunting them I think that was the gist of it? I said No thanks right off. I knew that book would not interest me, and I would find it disturbing, plus I was still working and had limited time, and already too many books to read. Well, the lady sitting beside me (young mother, 30ish?) launched into full attack mode – how could I reject a book without even giving it a chance, the purpose of the book club is to broaden your mind etc. Honestly, I was so annoyed esp as I had never even seen this woman before, and haven’t seen her since!

        Liked by 1 person

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