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Difficulty finishing book club book

Created: 04/21/11

Replies: 3

Posted Apr. 21, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
admin

Join Date: 10/11/10

Posts: 369

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Difficulty finishing book club book

Our club has encountered a problem that we have never experienced in our 3 years together. Everyone always finishes their books for our meetings. our current selection, "Abigail Adams", is painful to continue and several woman said that can't invest anymore time into it. I want to learn from this rather than not discussing it because we have all have put time into reading parts of it. What types of questions or strategies can we use to make our meeting worthwhile? Thank you so much for your time.

Laurie


Posted Apr. 23, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 505

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RE: Difficulty finishing book club book

Hi Laurie,

I've been told that publishers estimate that one third of books bought are never read and a further third are never finished. Pierre Bayard, in his book "How to Talk about Books You Haven't Read" (you'll find it at BookBrowse) gives numerous examples of books people talk about without reading or without reading fully - and actually suggests that this is not only acceptable but that it's the only way for sophisticated readers to "read" all they want to.

For me, a book is more about the topics that it explores than the content of the book itself. Thus, there are a great many non-fiction books that I've read in part, not in full - picking out the bits that interest me and skimming over chapters that are not relevant to me at that point in time. I would not consider myself having done the book or myself a disservice in doing this - I've just taken from the book what interests me and moved on.

So, I would say that the remarkable thing about your club is that nobody has previously not completed a book - or at least admitted to not doing so! Perhaps this is because you haven't read a lot of nonfiction until now?

In fact, the boffins who study how people read will tell you that nobody reads every single word of a book - we all, to some extent, skip when reading - it might just be a sentence or two of description here or there and it could be entirely unconscious, but we all do it to some degree. Obviously, the amount of "not reading" you're talking about here is much more than just a few words here and there, but the principle still applies - thus, you could argue, if it's okay to skip a few sentences, why not a few pages? If okay to skip a few pages, why not a few chapters?

So, in short, so long as most of you have read some of it, I think the conversation should run perfectly happily, and maybe you'll want to spend a bit of time discussing what elements people found to be heavy going, and whether as a club you're happy tackling books like this every now and then that you're not going to necessarily read cover to cover.

Davina - BookBrowse editor


Posted Apr. 25, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
gwendolyndawson

Join Date: 10/20/10

Posts: 63

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RE: Difficulty finishing book club book

Laurie,

Wow, I'm impressed that your group has always finished all the books in the past! I'm involved in two different book groups, and we have people in both groups at every single meeting that have not finished the book or that haven't even started. The ones who haven't started usually come to socialize with friends and enjoy the snacks. The ones who haven't finished always have interesting reasons for why they were unable to finish. In many cases, hearing why someone can't (or doesn't want to) finish a book is just as enlightening as hearing from someone who's finished the book. I agree with Davina that you should go ahead and discuss the book with your group. I bet people will have interesting things to say!

Gwen


Posted Apr. 28, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
kateg

Join Date: 04/28/11

Posts: 22

RE: Difficulty finishing book club book

Laurie,

I also belong to two book groups. In one, usually one person doesn't finish because we are all busy (it is a club of college alumnae, brought together by geography, but only one of us is retired; the rest all work full time). We discuss the book, including "spoilers" and we read nonfiction as well as "difficult" books. If someone is close to the end, we will send the person out to finish the story (one member showed up having 10 pages left in THE LIFE OF PI so we made her finish it as the crux of that story was at the end). In my other group, the eldest member, an 80 year old man doesn't always finish, but we discuss the book anyway. Nonfiction can be tedious, especially if the topic doesn't interest everyone in the group, but I agree with Gwen that discussing the book might make for one of your best meetings!

Kate


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