Why I’m no good in a book club

Maybe people who know me would roll their eyes and mutter, “Of course” at this, but it turns out I’m a bit of a contrary so and so. I love getting book recommendations and finding new books and authors I can fall in love with, but I don’t like being told what to read.

This first became apparent at secondary school. Someone in my class read War Horse and loved it, then one of his friends read it on his recommendation and so on. When about four people had read and enjoyed it, our English teacher suggested, “Why don’t we make it a class project that everyone reads it?” This was greeted with enthusiasm by most of the class. In a manner typical to me, I didn’t protest, but lowered my eyes and mutinously thought, “I’m not reading it just because everyone else is!”

The cover of Michael Morpurgo's WWI novel, War Horse
War Horse

A couple of decades later and I STILL haven’t read War Horse. My mum read it before the film came out and lent me her copy – which sat on my bookshelf for a year before I gave it back.

Picture of Katy Haye, contrary reader
Contrary Mare

In my defence, I don’t THINK this is entirely due to contrariness. I don’t like reading about World War I (I studied WWI poetry for A-level and it just makes me weep – we sent those poor boys to hell) so the book probably just isn’t for me.

To give myself a second chance, I’ve joined a few groups on Goodreads. So far I haven’t joined in with any monthly reading challenges because none of the books suggested have been on my “must read” list, but maybe (only maybe) I’ll relax enough to read something blind, just because other people are reading it and think I should, too.

Who knows, I might discover a treasure.

3 thoughts on “Why I’m no good in a book club

  1. Interesting post. I share your dislike of being told what to read, although I am the first to push books I’ve loved on friends who I think would also enjoy them or buy extra copies as presents. I also usually try and avoid reading much-hyped books for the same reason.

    That said, I’ve been a member of three book clubs now, and they’ve all been interesting to me in their own way. I was in one with two other friends and we each had our own, very different, reading preferences, so we took turns choosing which book to read, and it opened us up to new authors and genres and we had some great bookish discussion which was really fun and fulfilling.

    I joined another club formed by ladies from the WI group of which my mother’s a member. None of them write and the book choices don’t often match up with what I would choose, but it’s fascinating to hear their thoughts and perspectives as pure readers, and readers who often have busy lives. It’s really opened my eyes as a writer to hear what they have to say, although sometimes we get off topic and don’t talk about the book for very long, which is frustrating if I’ve taken the time to read it!

    I joined the Waterstone’s Cardiff Book Group last summer and I did it because their book choices were good. I either had it flagged up to read already or it piqued my interest. The discussion in that group is in depth and the observations enhance my reading of that month’s book. So much so that I come away from each meeting on a bit of a high.

    Sorry for such a lengthy comment! I get where you’re coming from, book groups aren’t for everyone, but they can be interesting to dip into for a while, at least, and I like having people who want to talk about the things which occupy a lot of my free time.


    1. Thanks for commenting. My contrariness seems odd because I love getting book recommendations – and pressing fabulous books on others.

      Very interested to hear your view on book clubs from a writer’s perspective, they are a great way to get an insight into other readers. I might see what my local bookshop clubs are reading and dip in to them – thank you for the prompt!


      1. You’re welcome. Hope you enjoy your dip but if it’s not for you, that is the beauty of book groups, you can always step out of the pool again. Happy Reading!


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