If you’re like me and living the glamourous life of a Canadian fiction author, you’ve probably been invited to a book club or two. While I always appreciate the request, book club visits can sometimes be weird experiences. You receive an email from a stranger inviting you to their house to meet with other strangers. It’s like the pressure of a blind date. Only that date is with you and ten other people. Thankfully, everyone is usually nice and normal and not wearing masks like in Eyes Wide Shut.
I’ve attended numerous book clubs over the years and have noticed that some fall into certain categories. I thought I’d share these observations with you, dear reader. I should note that I, too, belong to a book club so I fully appreciate the dark, political underbelly that can fester like an open wound among people who are forced to read books they don’t want to read.
Anyways, here’s my round-up:
The “Hey, Is That the Sunrise?” Book Club
This is a book club that likes to party more than read. I was once at a book club until two o’clock in the morning. I couldn’t get away. I almost started to cry because I knew Mother would have my face on a milk carton in a matter of hours. Sure, the wine and food were plentiful (they usually are if you’re expected to stay until the next day), but I’m not sure anyone in the group remembered me the next morning.
The “Book Club as Brand” Book Club
These aren’t book clubs. They’re small enterprises run out of living rooms. They’ve got everything: a mission statement, a budget, souvenir snow globes and their book schedule planned out a year in advance. I went to a book club that even had T-shirts with the name of their book club. Not only did they have a name, they had a logo. And yes, I got one as a parting gift.
The “I Invited Him So Don’t You Dare Embarrass Me” Book Club
Usually, the book club meeting has been arranged by the person who invited you. This person will seem very stressed. She’ll have a page of detailed and complicated questions about your book. You won’t know the answers to half of them. Whenever the conversation starts to wander, the organizer will clear her throat loudly, make a slashing motion across her neck and wave the paper with the questions in the air to remind everyone why they’re there.
The “I Suppose We Should Talk About the Book” Book Club
Speaking of wandering conversations… I’ve sat through a few of these. My book will be discussed for eight minutes before people start talking about that hilarious YouTube video. Or about a book they liked better than yours. Look, I’m not saying I have to be treated like Dame Elizabeth Taylor for the whole night, but if you can’t make a little effort to talk about my book, at least hide the library copy in your lap.
The “Begya Pardon?” Book Club
Speaking of library copies…These book clubs are usually made up of seniors and take place at public libraries on Tuesday afternoons. I went to one once, and it was pretty clear that most of the people hadn’t read my book. Many were also hard of hearing so I had to keep yelling my insightful comments. About a book they hadn’t read. But they were nice. And there were Peak Freans.
The “Holy Shit It's an Author!” Book Club
Sometimes, book clubs are star struck that an actual author is sitting on their living room sofa, leaving a small mound of cracker crumbs on the cushions and noisily slurping free red wine. No one in the book club really cares about your book. They don’t care if you’re a good writer or a crappy writer. You just have to sit there and be a real-life, goddamned frickin’ author. And while I’ve never met an ego stroke I didn’t like, I’m only a simple man who buys my Doritos at the No Frills just like everyone else.
There you have it. Did I miss any categories? Feel free to leave a comment. I always enjoy hearing from both of my readers.