One-Minute Book Reviews

December 26, 2011

The Pros and Cons of Book Clubs – Quote of the Day / Francine Prose

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 12:02 pm
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“ … book clubs have had both a positive and negative effect. On the one hand, they do get people reading and talking about reading. But on the other hand, when you’re reading for a book club, the whole time you’re thinking, I have to have an opinion and I’m going to have to defend it to these people. The whole notion of being swept away by a book pretty much goes out the window.”

Francine Prose in an interview conducted by Jessica Murphy for The Atlantic online, July 18, 2006, reprinted in the “About the Book” section of the paperback edition of Prose’s Reading Like a Writer: A Guide for People Who Love Books and for Those Who Want to Write Them (HarperPerennial, 2007).


  1. I’ve had this on my TBR list for a long time. I have to agree with this. It’s exactly how I’ve felt when I’ve been in book clubs. I don’t do book clubs well, especially when they pick something I have no interest in reading, and I’m dying to get to a particular book I do want to read.

    Comment by D. D. Syrdal — December 26, 2011 @ 3:50 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks for this comment and for the RT. That comment is in the supplemental material in the paperback that may or may not appear in the hardcover. At some book clubs, I’ve felt a subtle pressure to express views that conform to those of other members of a book club, which undermines my enjoyment. And I appreciate Prose’s willingness to say that reading groups can have a negative effect. So many writers are so eager to cultivate book clubs that I suspect that a lot of authors are withholding the truth on this one.

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — December 26, 2011 @ 6:12 pm | Reply

  3. Yes, I’ve felt that pressure, too. I was in a lunch-hour book club at the company I worked for several years ago, and one month we read a book written by the sister of one of our co-workers (who oddly was not even in the book club). I was the only person in the group who openly said they didn’t like the book. Interestingly, the author is pretty well-known, apparently is a NYT best-selling crime novelist. I was nearly tarred and feathered.

    Comment by D. D. Syrdal — December 26, 2011 @ 6:28 pm | Reply

  4. I never knew there were people who felt this way about book clubs. I have never been a member of one; furthermore, I am surrounded by people who rarely read. I’ve been envious of people who belong to book clubs because I don’t really have anyone to discuss my reading with. I’ve tried online forums, but it would be nicer to have a face-to-face discussion.

    Comment by Dani (@daniinnc) — December 26, 2011 @ 10:29 pm | Reply

  5. Dani — Book clubs can be wonderful when they work well. Do you know about Meetup, which lets you search for face-to-face groups? You can enter “book clubs” and “reading groups” and your Zip code at and see if your area has any that are looking for members (or sign up to receive notices of new groups as they are formed). Your public library might have or be willing to form the kind of book group you’d like. Thanks for your comment. Jan

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — December 26, 2011 @ 11:29 pm | Reply

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