How do you choose your book club selections?
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With the leader choosing?
It's impossible to keep everyone happy. But in the past when we've done nominations/voting, that's backfired.
A lot of men in particular will not like the "chick lit" selections that some of our hosts do - while others who host more serious book nights with the classics have poor attendance.
we try to read a variety of stuff, literary fiction and some more popular stuff, and from around the world. our tastes have broadened since we got our first regularly attending guy!
It allows both the group and the individual member some ownership over what we read. The individual member brings us some choice and they also have a vote, but the final decision is up to the group as a whole. It has allowed us to read a wide range of books- everything from classics to memoirs to the current "book club hit" that all the book clubs seem to be reading to nonfiction to young adult literature.
Here's our list from the beginning:
7/25/2005 Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West
11/6/2005 Mrs. Dalloway
12/11/2005 Just a Couple of Days
1/7/2006 I Capture the Castle
2/12/2006 Pudd'nhead Wilson
3/19/2006 The Center of Everything
4/16/2006 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
5/21/2006 Big Weather by Svenfold (touchstones not working on this one)
6/18/2006 Godless by Pete Hautman, not Anne Coulter!
7/23/2006 The Stolen Child
8/20/2006 The Confessions of Max Tivoli
9/24/2006 On Beauty
10/22/2006 The Pale Blue Eye
11/19/2006 Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight
I think our system works in part because we all met through an independent bookstore in town and our tastes are diverse without being totally dissimilar. We all like new literary fiction, for instance.
Each month, everyone is asked to come along with two or three suggestions for books for next month: we have a big discussion about the suggestions, and allow vetos if someone has read the book before and doesn't want to read it again; and we'll avoid books which most of us have read before because we're all keen to discover new authors. Once we've narrowed the list to four or five that in practice we're all happy to read, we take it in turns to make the final decision. We have very few rules- you don't have to read the book if you don't want to, and you don't have to finish it if you're not enjoying it (life's too short).
This might sound rather laborious, but it works for us has some real benefits: quite often someone will read a book because it was nominated and discussed at the book club even if it wasn't 'chosen' for a monthly read.