Monday, March 28, 2022

If You Can't Say Something Nice....

Q: Book club members are usually free to say anything about the book they just read. People attending author events usually say nice things or nothing. But what about when authors visit book clubs? Do rules exist? Should we invent them?

-from Susan


I just helped set up a book group of five women in my neighborhood. We meet tonight to discuss our first read, BEWILDERMENT, by Richard Powers. It’s the first time I’ve been in a book club, so all I know is what other people tell me about their experiences as members:


“Sometimes we spend five minutes on the book before we’re catching up on everyone’s news”


“Frankly, I read only a few pages and if I don’t like it by then, I don’t read the rest of it.”


“Turned out no one read the whole book last time, so we talked about the food.”


“We spent so much time squabbling about next month’s read that we never got to last month’s.”



So, there’ s that. As an author, I’ve only done a handful of book club appearances, although I’d like to do more. I was the excuse for a get-together of women who lived in, or were visiting from, Hawaii. They treated me like a rock star at dinner, and it seemed that most of them had actually read my first Dani O’Rourke mystery. Several were on art museum boards, so it resonated with them. They didn’t say anything nasty.


I was invited by a friend to visit her book club, made up of powerful Black women, most of whom are professional leaders in Oakland, again for a Dani mystery, which has a repeating secondary Black character. Turns out they applauded how I presented her, and had lots of questions about where the character came from and what I had planned for her going forward. Elegant home-cooked dinner and an invitation to return that Covid slammed the door on.


Authors don’t get to set the rules for other people’s book clubs, but for our own, I think the first one – and maybe the only one – should be READ THE BOOK!



                           A new French village mystery comes out March 2023!






Catriona McPherson said...

Susan, you are so right! The biggest difference in a meeting where the author's there is probably the amount of time spent talking about the book!

Susan C Shea said...

Catriona, That's my guess too!