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Books/book club

Upset about disorganized book group

(37 Posts)
CanadianGran Thu 25-Mar-21 00:32:47

I'm just fuming right now...

I'm part of a group with 7 members, all really lovely ladies and we have been a group for 10 years. Over the years a few members have come and gone, but the current members have been steady for the last 5 years. Reading and getting together this past year have been tough, but we did have 2 back yard and two or three skype visits last year.

My issue is the wishy -washy "let's change the meeting to next week since I haven't finished the book' attitude. I am on an afternoon shift and took the evening off work tomorrow in order to join in, since reading is important to me and I love discussing books with the group. I am not taking a vacation day or banked time, this is a day off without pay. Then I get a text after I had already booked the day off (and replacement organized) with above message.

So far 5 members said 'no problem, lets do it next week' when I finally saw the text. I did text back to the group that I had booked the day off to join in, but would send in a report instead. Now I can see there is some back-tracking to see who has finished, etc, but I am not joining into the discussion without seeming petulant.

Honestly, we have one book a month, and the meeting is set for the third Thursday. We came to this decision years ago when there was one member that we were always having to work around because she had so many commitments. I also understand these are tough times and not everyone has the concentration to read. But don't change the meeting the day before!

I'm ticked off at the disorganization. Am I wrong?

by the way, the book is Shuggie Bain which was my pick for the group; I got the recommendation here. I am looking forward to discussing it, so am really disappointed.

eazybee Thu 25-Mar-21 06:47:53

I don't blame you at all, CanadianGran, for being extremely annoyed at the disruption to your planned Book Group meeting. It is very bad-mannered to change a meeting at such short notice, simply because people haven't bothered to read the book in time. The problem lies in the fact that Book Groups are informal organisations; the meetings are usually held in places where it is not necessary to book or pay for a venue, and, to put it delicately, include members who are, um, used to controlling events in their own households and don't always consider the needs of others.
It is also hard as members are friends.
I have been a member of a large book group for many years, and these sort of challenges have arisen, usually from the same few people who don't want to miss meetings but are not prepared to compromise on their own arrangements.
I would join in the texting discussion but just reiterate without acrimony how much you were looking forward to discussing the book, as you had suggested it, and the fact you had booked time off from work because you wanted to hear the opinions of others. It sounds as though some members have realised what they have done, so grit your teeth and hold hard to your line without losing face.
Hope the meeting goes ahead.

grandMattie Thu 25-Mar-21 06:55:13

I was in a book group for nearly 20 years and was leader/host for about 5 and got more and more frustrated by similar attitudes,. I also had enough of hosting it 12 months a year. There was always an excuse for that.
I announced, out of the blue, that I was resigning. People were horrified and poured compliments on my choices of books, hosting etc. After two years, I’ve seen two of them a couple of times. Was royally dumped.
Perhaps you should change your group? Start a new one?

Nell8 Thu 25-Mar-21 07:09:51

I'm on your side CanadianGran. I hadn't been able to read the book for my last Zoom meeting but joined in anyway to listen to the discussion.
In my opinion if things are allowed to slip once for one member the trend will escalate and things will become a mess.
Hopefully your bad experience and dignified response will remind the group why they tightened rules up the last time!smile

Calendargirl Thu 25-Mar-21 07:12:52

Have never been in a book group, but can sympathise with you.

janeainsworth Thu 25-Mar-21 07:25:38

I can see both sides really.
On the one hand, I can understand how annoyed you must feel and I would be too. ‘I haven’t read the book’ isn’t a good enough reason to expect everyone else to change the date, and their own arrangements.

On the other, a book every month seems quite a tall order. I would struggle to manage to read a book group book, as well as reading books of my own choice in a month.

The book group I’m in meets every 6 to 8 weeks and even so, we’ve had people drop out because they say there isn’t time to read the group book as as well as their own choices.
Lockdown has certainly not helped. All our meetings have been on zoom and it’s just not the same.

In the past (pre-lockdown) we have certainly changed dates of meetings when it’s turned out that several people were going to be away but never just because someone hasn’t read all the book.

Froglady Thu 25-Mar-21 07:47:40

All of the book groups I've been involved with over the years have read a book a month. The majority of people will have read the book in that time but you will always have the odd one or two who haven't managed it as life has got in the way. I don't think it's reasonable to keep shifting a group because of that as people may simply start to think 'Oh I don't need to worry about finishing the book because we can meet the next week instead'. It's annoying for you when you have made the effort and taken unpaid leave so you can go to the group. However, as others have said, simply join in the discussion without voicing exactly you feel and then see what happens with the next read. If the group continues to move the date, have a think whether you want to stay with this group and try and find another group locally. One group I was in met every week in the library, we read a book a month and each week we were supposed to have read to a certain page. I eventually stopped going to that group because we had a couple of people who were more interested in talking about the buses or the local NHS services and talking over people discussing the current read. We had time at the beginning of the group to chat while we made drinks, so there was no excuse for the chat to go on during the group itself. I just felt it was very rude. After I left I realised I didn't miss the group at all. I carried on reading at home and then found 2 more groups for me to join which were much better.
There will be a better group out there for you somewhere. Good Luck from someone who loves reading and regularly gets through at least 3 books a week and I can understand your frustration with these people.

seacliff Thu 25-Mar-21 08:13:14

Maybe you should address this again, once and for all. Those who don't have work commitments will be flexible and very casual about changing times. Are you the only one working in the group? I imagine you want to be there, not just send a report in, no fun at all.

You could spell it out and say (nicely) either you all agree to stick to the times religiously in the future, to avoid you wasting limited holiday, or you will reluctantly leave. They may not have thought of it from your point of view.

dragonfly46 Thu 25-Mar-21 08:21:58

Our book group meets once a month but one meeting is to discuss the book and the other is purely social which used to be in the pub. That gives us 2 months to read the book and have time to read other books as well. It does take the pressure off.
However, it is not fair to postpone the day before.

Sarnia Thu 25-Mar-21 08:37:43

I have been a book club member for many years now and I really enjoy it, as you obviously do. In 'normal' times we met on the 3rd Wednesday evening of the month in a local pub. Over the past year we have had to make do with Zoom. We have a lady in charge of the book club and every 6 months we put forward recommendations for books we might enjoy as a group and she requests them from our local library and collects the book we have finished with and returns them. We all have different commitments on our time so occasionally the book for that month hasn't been finished but we don't alter meetings because of it. I think you need to tell them how you feel. Everyone in a group should have a voice and an entitlement to put forward their opinion. I have just finished The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I can highly recommend it. Happy Reading.

Iam64 Thu 25-Mar-21 08:44:42

Our book group is 25 years old. One good planner sets out the dates for the year every January. We meet six weekly. If you’re away on holiday you miss out but send written comments and your score to the person hosting. This year we have met on zoom, usually all of us as no one is going anywhere.
Yes I’d be irritated by dates being shifted to accommodate someone who hasn’t finished the book , or fancies doing something else

Lucca Thu 25-Mar-21 09:04:19

Unless you choose War and Peace or similar one book a month is not too demanding ! On occasion I’ve forgotten to finish a book or chosen not to....I still attend the meeting. To me asking to cancel the day before is not only rude but rather arrogant !
I’d state your case and the. If they don’t like it look for another group of that’s possible.

nanna8 Thu 25-Mar-21 09:10:18

I agree with the others. I have also been in a group where we shifted the day for one particular member who, more often than not, made an excuse at the last minute and didn’t turn up. Very annoying . Some people are just inconsiderate and they don’t have a clue that they may be being, well, selfish. Keep your eyes peeled for a new group!

Alexa Thu 25-Mar-21 09:18:07

It is bad manners to change the time of a meeting when some have committed to the former time, unless there is an extraordinary excuse.

If this happened to me I'd stay with the group only if if the company was so rewarding that I'd overlook the bad management.

I used to belong to a book group, and it helped me into the habit of reading novels again.

I am reading The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. It is about life and ethics in sparsely rural life, especially with regard to relationships with other men and animals.

janeainsworth Thu 25-Mar-21 09:49:00

Sarnia I loved the Glass Castle.
Have you read Educated by Tara Westover? Another memoir of how someone overcame a very adverse upbringing.

Greeneyedgirl Thu 25-Mar-21 10:12:42

I am in a book group with 7 members, and I think this sort of thing would happen if we didn’t have a few, not too onerous ground rules.

Such as aiming to read a book once a month, if possible, why join a book group if you can’t do that? Keeping to the regular date and time, trying to send a review if unable to attend. We are good at taking turns to discuss, no one hogs, and it has worked well for us even on zoom.

Urmstongran Thu 25-Mar-21 10:43:55

My friend and I started a book club over 15y ago (not one-puma ship here, just showing how well it has worked). A founder member suggested we meet every 2 months and I think that decision has been key to our success.

We there have 5 meetings a year with the 6th one (December) always a social occasion. A meal out and (pre-Covid) always fun. 2 monthly meetings gives everyone the chance not only to read the book (loved Snuggie Bains by the way CanadianGran I read it last summer and it stayed on my mind for ages afterwards - a great Booker prize winner in my opinion!) but stops reading becoming too ‘prescriptive’ for us slower readers, or busier people - not all of us are retired it’s a mixed age group which adds much to our discussions!

The date, once set, is sacrosanct. In all these years we’ve never altered it. It just wouldn’t be fair to all concerned. Members who haven’t read it often come along (if they don’t it’d be four months till we next see them!). Book reading ought not to be like homework. Read it, or not it’s up to the individual. Again 2 months gives everyone plenty of time! Why is it that sometimes, considering I’m #lazygran I’ve had to cram my reading into the last week before we meet haha!

Urmstongran Thu 25-Mar-21 10:45:00

Duh. Should have proof read! In fact it’s faster than having to correct myself.
*one-upmanship of course!

Urmstongran Thu 25-Mar-21 10:47:11

Oh god ... *Shuggie sorry about this!

Eloethan Thu 25-Mar-21 11:33:23

I think the group should stick to the arranged dates - especially as it's only once a month. If some haven't finished the book, that's their problem.

For myself, it wouldn't be that much of an issue but I can see that in your case it is very unfair and I can see why you are annoyed. Anyway, it could be a slippery slope to complete disorganisation and people leaving the group.

annodomini Thu 25-Mar-21 11:59:37

Urms, I quite liked the idea of 'onepumaship', You might have started a new trend in exotic pets!
Seriously, I do agree that the OP's book group were inconsiderate. Ours is very clear about meeting dates and has never diverged. I'm a bit naughty and haven't always finished the book, but I'm always there to give my opinion on the bits I have read.

Ro60 Thu 25-Mar-21 12:01:58

That's not on Canadagran.
A committee I am on had to work around All our commitments. There is nothing wrong with you saying I'm working or not available during these times.
Get your say in. You'll probably find others in the group understanding. Quite often I find it's one person who wants to control the arena.

Rosalyn69 Thu 25-Mar-21 12:05:28

My experience of book clubs is they only as good as the members make them. The original one I joined had some truly awful opinionated and pushy women. I left because I found my main pleasure became not the book but annoying the other members.
Me bad. I then joined a Crime Club. The ladies were great. Unfortunately it stopped when COVID came.

Doodledog Thu 25-Mar-21 12:13:50

We have a rule that if someone attends who hasn't finished the book they can't ask for the ending not to be revealed. It was surprising how many people honestly thought that this was a reasonable request!

Some turn up after the first hour, but that usually means that the discussion is disrupted and tails off, which is a shame if someone has got more to say.

I suspect that the people who agreed to the change will have had nothing much else to do, so weren't bothered one way or the other - they probably didn't think about your circumstances, and now that you have pointed them out may take them on board in future.

I wonder if you could say that you are booking in your leave for the year ahead, and need to be sure that you have enough free days to attend all meetings, so could it be agreed that dates wouldn't be changed unless there is no alternative?

Greeneyedgirl Thu 25-Mar-21 15:52:18

Ah! Shuggie Bain Urmstongran. I read it, one of the few Booker winners I’ve been able to understand, but found it made me feel sad for a long time afterwards.