The value of a “bad” book to a book club

I haven’t written much lately because it is my habit only to blog about books that I would highly recommend and as my title indicates I haven’t loved anything I have read recently.  But that got me to thinking that as much as I haven’t enjoyed the books, my book clubs seem to have a new vitality to them and maybe picking a bad or “difficult” book is the key to this.  Here are the 5 benefits to choosing a difficult or “bad” book to your club.

  1.  Finally, you have something to talk about!  My Bloomington group read “Out of Darkness” by Ashley Hope Perez and there was a buzz about us the whole month preceding the meeting.  Isn’t this book dark?  And the ending is so horrible!  I wonder if it’s true?  This whole discussion prompted us to learn about the largest school explosion which took place in New London Texas in 1937.
  2. Don’t hate on the book selector.  I say this from personal experience as I have challenged my group on a number of titles.  I know what a responsibility this is since many of my clubbers only read one book per month and I am imparting my opinion on their free time.  So I usually have a purpose in mind, like this book won a Pulitzer so it’s important.  Or there is a really good lesson in here, just stick with it.  In general picking a book is a big deal, so take it seriously but don’t have thin skin about it.
  3. Choosing a difficult or “bad” book creates a venue for differing points of view to be heard.  My Minneapolis club picked “H is for Hawk” by Helen MacDonald.  Myself, I did not care for it, however I truly respect my friend Ruthie who loved it.  We have had a very good discussion about our respective reasons for love/hate.  And if I didn’t have her to debate with my own view wouldn’t be as crisp as it now about why I still did not like it.  Sorry, Ruthie.
  4. A new energy is restored when you have something to discuss.  For me, when the book is hard, I tend to text or email some of the other clubbers in between meetings.  What do you think about THIS one?  I am not loving it!  And back and forth we go.  Sometimes my friends will encourage me to continue with hints to good things to come.  However all that said the following still always applies:
  5. I still abide by the 100 page rule.  If you truly hate a book and another clubber cannot convince you otherwise.  Quit reading.  You will have enough to discuss in the meeting.

So there you have it.  I have not loved the books I have read and yet I am glad I read them.  Bad or difficult books definitely have a place in a thriving book club.


About Anne Loughrey

I am an avid member of several book clubs and a prolific keeper of my books. I love to discuss books and hear what others think of books I have read.
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