Book club member wants to turn the page
Dear Amy: Perhaps you can help me negotiate a sensitive breakup -- with my book club.
Ten of us have been meeting monthly for seven years, since our founding by a dear friend (who passed away recently). We have had a pleasantly eclectic sequence of fiction and nonfiction books and, invariably, terrific meals.
But lately we've had a run of titles I just find tedious. More and more, conversation drifts from our book to work, family, vacations and other matters I don't much care to chatter about. I find myself daydreaming about more exciting book partners.
There are great reasons to belong to a book club. It keeps you anchored to a world of books and focused, intellectual conversation. You may find yourself in the company of worthy people you'd otherwise not have met. In my big city, there are bound to be abundant alternatives.
The other book club members are neighborhood friends and other acquaintances that I like. I don't want to hurt their feelings, and I can't think of any way to gently back away. If I say I can't do second Tuesdays anymore, they will surely agree to find a new night. But it's time to go. How?
-- Burned-out Bookie
Dear Burned-Out: You may think it is relatively easy to find a new book club, but in my experience, it can actually be quite challenging. Many clubs are more or less closed to new members. It might be a good idea to see if you can find another club to join, before you make any sudden moves out of this one.
Otherwise, because you are a charter member of this club, you could try to refocus the club back to its original function. Who is choosing the titles? Who, if anyone, is leading these discussions? The discussions might drift because the titles aren't engaging enough. Or, more likely, your club has experienced a familiar drift -- away from books and toward food and fellowship.
The dynamic of your club (and your interest in it) would have changed drastically with the death of one member. Don't discount the impact of this loss on all of you. So -- talk about it!
Don't invent an excuse or conflict. If you choose NOT to confront any of the problems you see creeping into the club, you should start by saying, "I'm planning to step away from the club for six months or so. Would you all be willing to welcome me back after this sabbatical?" This would buy you some time to make a definite choice, and would also soften your exit -- both for you and for the other members.