Thursday, February 25, 2010

Book Club Exchange - Leah from Amused by Books

When Leah from Amused by Books offered to write something for Book Club Exchange, I was a little surprised by her topic: Book club burnout. But the more I thought about it, I realized how perfect this topic really is. I know Leah is not alone with her feelings!

As much as I love all of my book clubs, there are times when I don't always think they are meeting my needs. I know that sounds terrible, but I have been known to feel frustrated after a meeting when we don't really hit upon all the issues in a book because we got sidetracked on personal issues. Does that sound familiar to anyone?

Well, enough about me! Without further ado, I'd like to welcome Leah to Book Club Exchange:

It started out so wonderfully. Most relationships do really, don't they? You get a taste of it and you think, yes this will be wonderful, this will really last! You put your all into it and then all of a sudden you realize you are the only one putting your all into it and you get that thing no one wants to say out loud, but I will - Book Club Burnout. Here's how it happened.

After college, I moved to a new city, San Francisco, and it's a very bookish city. I had been in a book club for a short time in college with a couple of my girlfriends that now lived in SF too and we had a great time then. I missed the great discussions of my English Literature classes and I tried at first to find a book club on craigslist. That got weird quickly, as things on craigslist sometimes can. Then I moved into a house with 3 girlfriends and thought, why not start a book club? Genius!

So we sent out the evite to about 10 ladies and we all invited our friends and slowly we built it up into something fun. We would meet every month, discuss a great book, make plans for the next month, stir, mix, repeat. We did this for 2 years. People came and went, as they do, but a core group remained. What was the problem, then?

Well it was always at our place and not only did people come and go but so did roommates, as they do. So I was the core leader. We swapped food responsibilities, not houses each month. When someone couldn't bring food, I was called in to bring snacks. When Sunday night rolled around (our designated meet up time) I cleaned. When no one else read the book, I led the discussion. When I went on vacation, book club got rescheduled. I never got a month off. My TBR pile suffered accordingly. Eventually it was time for me to move house too and with that I knew it would be time to take a break from book club. I loved book club, I really did, I just didn't love all the extra responsibility.

The book club is still going. They met elsewhere now, and I pop in from time to time when they read a book that I've read or was about to and I love that. It's much less responsibility and that was exactly what I was looking for and honestly, after a year or so away, I am starting to miss the regular discussions again and the camaraderie so I am sure, at some point, I will be right back in a regular book club again, but hopefully this time, one with a house swap!

Anyone else ever suffer from Book Club Burnout?


Leah at AmusedbyBooks loves to read fiction of any kind. When not reading, she is working hard for her money, exploring the great city of San Francisco, and harassing her boyfriend's cat.

I am so grateful to Leah for giving us her unique perspective on book clubs and book club burnout. If you are interested in participating in a future Book Club Exchange, please contact me at bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com.


Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

I have definitely had that happen before. It's hard to be the one who is always responsible. It can get old pretty quickly.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I guess I am too new to my club to have burnout, although I have had my frustrations early on. Fortunately, we all meet at a restaurant, so nobody has any responsibilites beyond choosing the meeting place. My biggest beef has been weak book choices, but we have been on a roll here for the last few months so I am crossing my fingers. I know I would NOT like it if I had to clean and provide snacks frequently!

Gerbera Daisy Diaries said...

I love my book group and it's my salvation every month, HOWEVER, I totally understand burnout! I'm our group leader and sometimes I wish someone else would take the lead (emails/refreshments/location) -- and there are months that I'm not thrilled with the book choice and want to take a month off so I can make a dent in my every growning personal TBR stack.

bermudaonion said...

I haven't been a book club long enough to be burned out. I would love to have a group here in my neighborhood, but have hesitated to start one for just the reasons you said - I'm afraid I would have to take on all the responsibility. Great post!

Jo-Jo said...

I am so grateful that everyone within my group shares responsibilities. If not, I know I would have burnout myself.

Bonnie said...

I would definitely have burnout if I had to host my book club and have the full responsibility. I'm glad that Leah's book club continued on and she is able to still participate. I've gone through some book club burnout with some issues that arose in my own book club. It has helped to address some of the issues and let others go.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if book clubs that have facilitators feel this same way. I've been to two book clubs as a guest that were led by paid facilitators. They were both excellent, leading the discussion and keeping the members on track. They offered great extra information about the authors and background of the book that nobody else really had the time to look into. Maybe a facilitator could help book club burnout!

Jenn P said...

Thank you for that!! I can totally relate.