Monday 23 May 2011

A short post for a long weekend...

What do you do if you have a book club meeting coming up and you're just not finished the book selection?  Do you stay up all night the night before trying to finish it in time for the meeting?  Do you go to the meeting and pretend you finished it?  Do you not go to that particular meeting?  Or do you go to the meeting and admit to the rest of the group that you didn't finish?

Staying up all night to finish the book demonstrates your determination to engage completely with your book group.  I applaud any member of my own book group who makes the effort to finish the selection in this way.  But it's not always a possible, nor a necessarily pleasurable, way to finish a book.  I don't think I could do it!  So I would say, don't feel obligated to finish your book in this way.  Do so if you have the determination but be prepared to feel the effects of an all-night reading marathon the next day.

Going to the book club meeting and pretending that you've finished the book can be tricky.  I'll admit that I've done this on one occasion with my own book group, so I can say from firsthand experience that it's very awkward.  You can't take part in the discussion in your usual way, and your questions and comments may be completely off-the-mark without knowing how the book ends.  I would not recommend using this option in this situation unless you are a skillful poker player.

Not attending a meeting because you didn't finish the book can be either a smart choice or a poor choice, depending on your reason for making the choice.  If you choose not to go to the meeting because you don't want to be told the ending, then it's a smart choice, but it's unfortunate because you miss out on the whole book discussion.  If you choose not to go to the meeting because you feel you won't be able to contribute to the discussion, then I would say it's a poor choice.  If you choose to not attend because you feel guilty for not finishing the book, that you're somehow "letting the group down", then I would say this is also a poor choice.  With my group, the fun of our meetings is as much about getting together as it is about the book discussion.  So don't feel you "shouldn't" go just because you haven't finished the book.

Going to the meeting and informing the group that you haven't finished is, in my opinion, the best of these options.  It shows your dedication to the group and your enthusiasm for the book, despite not finishing it yet.  You can still make valuable contributions to the discussion, and your presence will be appreciated by the other group members.  The only caveat I have for this option is this:  be prepared to find out how the book ends.  You don't want to come to the meeting and caution the others not to reveal the ending.  After all, the ending is so very important to the discussion that this would stifle the conversation for the other members. 

These options apply equally to not having read the book at all (except for the part where I say you still make valuable contributions to the discussion - you may be limited in your ability to contribute in this instance).  If your intention is to read the book at some time, then if you go to the meeting, you can at least reflect on what the other members have said when you finally get the chance to read the book yourself. 

These opinions are strictly my own, but having been a facilitator of a book group for more than four years, I feel that they reflect my personal thoughts regarding book club meeting attendance in these situations.  Only you can make the decision to pretend or not, to attend or not, to contribute or not.

Bye for now!

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