Want a place to talk about books that nobody else seems to be talking about?
Not long ago, I learned about a book club in my town that operates on a different principle from most others: Instead of having everybody read the same book, the club asks each member to talk briefly at every meeting about a book – love it or hate it — that he or she has been reading recently.
I like this idea for a lot of reasons. One is that avoids forcing members to read a book even if it feels like a penance. Another is that it sidesteps a common problem that undermines many clubs: Members hesitate to be ruthlessly honest about a book for fear of hurting the feelings of the person who proposed it, and this leads to uninspired discussions. Yet another reason why I like the idea is that it allows people to share literary discoveries – or vent about overrated books – even if they don’t turn up on a club list.
So I’m going to try having an online version of the club on One-Minute Book Reviews from June 1 through Labor Day. I’ll keep the group going the fall if enough people take part. I’m calling it the Ruthless Book Club because this is a place where you can say anything about a book as long as you don’t make personal attacks on the author or other unfair comments (spoilers or misrepresentations of content, for example).
Here’s how the Ruthless Book Club will work:
On the first day of each month, I’ll put up a post encouraging you to comment briefly on a book you’ve read recently. I’ll start the conversation mentioning a book I’ve reviewed in the past few weeks that left an especially strong impression for good or ill.
You may leave a comment about any book you’ve read even if it has nothing to do with any books reviewed on One-Minute Book Reviews. Other visitors may comment on your post or mention another book at any time during the month, or until a new discussion starts on the first day of the next month.
You may not comment on any book you’ve received for free from the author, agent, publisher or anyone else connected to the book. Book publicists are barred from taking part in the discussion.
You may also not comment on a book by a friend, enemy or anyone else with whom you might appear to have a conflict. The Ruthless Book Club will follow the rule observed by journalists: You don’t just avoid conflicts of interest but the appearance of conflicts of interest. That’s another reason the club is called “ruthless.”
Other than that, you may comment on any kind of book – children’s or adult, trade or scholarly, in-print or out-of-print. The idea is: This is a place to talk about those books that you think about a lot and would like to share with others.
How does this sound to you?
© 2008 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.