It's up there with Marmite and cats versus dogs; should you finish a book club pick you're not enjoying?
When I saw friends of mine at the weekend, they both talked about how much they enjoyed attending their respective book clubs.
Both friends were complimentary about the social side, lovely people, but one complained that they often disliked the book choices. She was often in two minds about whether to struggle through and finish a book or abandon it and skip that month's meeting.
To finish or to abandon?
When I start reading a book I'm not enjoying, I often abandon it (unless it's one I've committed to reviewing). Life is too short, and there are too many good books out there that I want to read.
However, I like to examine why I'm not appreciating the book before giving up. This helps me understand whether it's because it's outside my comfort zone or not a genre or story that resonates with me.
Davids Baddiel's Jews Don't Count
A recent example is a book club pick, David Baddiel's Jews Don't Count. I was in two minds about whether to read it.
First, I prefer fiction; nothing beats a good story with well-fashioned characters cleverly told. Secondly (or so I thought at the time), did I want to read about another celebrity man whining about how hard done by they are?
I decided to try it, and I'm glad I did. It set me thinking.
I am ashamed to admit I hadn't given antisemitism in our society much thought. Too busy with my own concerns.
Like any woman, I've experienced discrimination all my life. As a mature woman, I'm used to people making negative judgements about me. Sexism and ageism, Boo Hoo for me.
Davids Baddiel's Jews Don't Count compelled me to examine whether I inadvertently blanked out day-to-day antisemitism or subconsciously held that it's not as bad as other forms of racism.
Yikes, double standards?
I had almost abandoned a thought-provoking read but thankfully didn't because it was a book club selection. I was glad I persisted.
Right genre, wrong style
After reading an excellent but emotionally draining novel, I was in the mood for a light-hearted, humorous book, so I downloaded a book from Kindle Unlimited from a writer I hadn't read before with good reviews.
However, as soon as I commenced the first few pages, I cringed. It wasn't that the book was poorly written, it was just that the humour was far too, shall we say, raw for me.
It was the right genre, just the wrong style. I would never enjoy reading this book, so I exchanged it for something more promising.
However, if this had been a book club pick, I would have persevered and discussed its merits at the next meeting, pointing out why I hadn't enjoyed it.
We owe it to our fellow book clubbers to persevere.
We're committed to reading a range of genres and styles. Not all of us will enjoy all of the picks, but they still deserve discussion.
A book you surprisingly discover you love
I'm not a science fiction fan, so when our book club chose The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, I was apprehensive.
Surprisingly, The Sparrow turned out to be a masterful novel, which I'm pleased I read. (Please read my review here.)
I was so delighted with this book that, again, at the suggestion of one of the book club members, I read the second book, Children of God, which expands and completes the story wonderfully.
If I hadn't committed to reading The Sparrow because of my book club membership, I would never have chosen it and missed out on both the original and the sequel.
Should you finish a book club pick you're not enjoying?
On balance, we should finish a book club pick, even if we don't think we'll enjoy it.
It's courteous to the other book club members, and we might learn something or be converted to a new genre we'd previously dismissed.
What is your view?
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