Bad books happen to good book clubs all the time. There are a lot of reasons for this: dense writing, plot holes, limited discussion topics, characters readers can’t connect with, and more. At times, a bad pick is the kiss of death for a club, but it can also be used as an opportunity to make your group and selection process stronger. We want you and your reading group to survive and thrive, so here are guidelines for what to do when you pick a bad book for your book club.
Once you’re done reading, check out this post on how to select the perfect book club book!
So, you were the unlucky reader who selected the dud book. You could retreat into your shell and avoid your book buddies, but resist the temptation. Show up to the meeting with your head held high and be prepared to shrug and laugh off your bad pick. It happens to all of us, and it could spark a great conversation about books members expected to love and instead hated and why.
Don’t cancel the meeting
Book club is meant to be fun and exciting. If members are dreading a discussion, the subject of canceling the meeting may come up. One missed meeting leads to a second, and soon your group is lamenting your failed book club. Instead, keep to your schedule. If the group didn’t finish the book or genuinely doesn’t want to discuss it, try these conversation topics or host a silent reading party instead.
Discuss what didn’t work
Look at the book and talk about why it didn’t work for your group. Was it the writing or the characters, the plot or the pacing? Narrow down the elements that didn’t connect with your group and why. You’ll know what to avoid in the future.
Bring on the bad
Have you ever noticed how it can sometimes be more fun to talk about things you dislike than things you like? Take the Harry Potter series: It’s fun to talk about Harry’s character development, but things get lively and heated when you mention the controversial epilogue in front of fans. Instead of cringing over the negative aspects of a book you selected, share them with the group and get the bad times rolling.
Reflect on your selection process
Take a look at how your group came to the decision to read the book in question. Was it a genre only one reader is passionate about? Was enough research done beforehand? Discuss whether your process can be changed to select books that better fit your group in the future.
Do your homework
Bad picks happen to everyone. Shrug off the misstep and plan for the future by doing research into future book club picks. Use resources such as your local bookseller or librarian, friends on Goodreads, and Bookish book club recs to narrow down your selection. Read reviews, but be careful of spoilers. Find out if the publisher has a discussion guide that could be brought to the meeting to spark a conversation.
Above all else, don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Book clubs are supposed to be fun and with the right group of bookworm friends even the bad books can lead to a good time.