Lionel Shriver on book clubs

Book groups are a social phenomenon. In this excerpt from Roberta Smith’s interview with Lionel Shriver, you can hear Shriver’s thoughts on book clubs and how they bridge the gap between the solitude of reading and ordinary socialising.

What do you think – would you ever join a book group? Could there be a bloke’s book group?  Discuss!

6 thoughts on “Lionel Shriver on book clubs

  1. Allison 15 May 2010 / 1:58 am

    I really like her idea of books creating a middle ground between private and social space and book clubs as a way of accessing this middle ground!

    In my experience of book clubs discussion of what she calls ‘slightly more elevated matters’ tends to be generously interspersed with the trivial and mundane. And I think this is also an important part of the social function they serve.

    Would the dynamic work for men? In theory I see no reason why not. With the right mix of members.

    • Roberta Smith 15 May 2010 / 7:40 am

      We’ve often contemplated having male members (that is not sounding quite right!), and in fact the online book group seems really well set up for that. Further on in the interview I asked her about how she feels about those discussion questions at the back of books – that will be in the transcript of the interview – very interesting.

  2. Greg Smith 15 May 2010 / 8:15 am

    Fascinating discussion. Can we PLEASE hear the full interview, instead of this coitus interuptus version.

    I’m not sure whether book clubs would work for men. They possibly would for the more artistic types. One of the things I used to hate at school, was being MADE to write an essay about the book I’d been MADE to read!

    • richard 15 May 2010 / 9:18 am

      Hi Greg, I don’t have time to edit the entire piece, sorry. However, I have just posted the full Shriver interview, so you and the other fans can enjoy that.

  3. Michael A 17 May 2010 / 9:38 am

    Interesting interview and food for thought. Book clubs for men? Co-ed book clubs? I do talk to other men about books but more as a sideline while engaged in other activities…not sure that institutionalising it into a monthly meeting would work quite so well. As for co-ed; I suspect that it would rapidly deteriorate into gender-based orthagonality (my 5 syllable word ending in “…lity”)

  4. Jane 18 May 2010 / 11:35 am

    I’ve been in a book group with men and what I noticed was that in general the men were less personally involved in the books. They didn’t get like I do -either passionately hating it, or feeling so involved with the characters and situations that I find it hard to look at the book from anyone elses point of view. As I have said before, I am a bookgroup dropout so perhaps I am not the best one to comment, but I enjoyed having the mixed group.

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