Do You Want to Have Fun or Read? – 9 Bookclub Rules Worth Breaking!

by Debra Chappell

Weather today:  Cloudy, cold, light snow

View ‘from the front porch’ (at cabin):

Mood Reading:  ZZZ

(Stomach rumbled all night due to over-indulgence of corned beef and cabbage!)

Drove up to the cabin yesterday and upon arrival put on a big pot of St. Paddy’s day dinner and cracked open a bottle of our homemade Zinfandel.  Enjoyed second helpings of both, a roaring fire, and some decadent chocolate the hubby brought back from his most recent business trip – and then wondered why I couldn’t get to sleep. Sometime during the night the belly ache must have subsided and we woke up to a pretty, light snow falling this morning – welcome to spring in the Sierras!

This week a friend circulated a timely article to our bookclub entitled “9 Things Never to Say in BookClub”,  originally from the website of that Mother of all Bookclubs, Oprah.  Though I’m sure it was meant to be constructive,  I have to admit, for once I disagreed with the god of daytime TV on almost every point.  Not only that, but I’m pretty sure most of us have broken these rules (listed below) at one time or other.  Here’s the list, see if you agree. (And yes, in some cases I’m paraphrasing.)


  • “So, who liked the book and who didn’t?” – This according to O, divides the group from the outset.  Huh?  I mistakenly assumed this was the whole point of bookclub discussions to begin with.
  • “Dealing with my kids/boss/lunatic mother-in-law has been crazy, couldn’t get past the first chapter.” – According to O, it’s ok to just sit and listen (preferably quietly) if you haven’t finished the book.  To hell with that I say – half the time that’s what we come for –  therapy we don’t have to pay for. I want to hear about the kids/boss/lunatic mother-in-law  in my friends lives –  it’s usually more interesting than the book is anyway!
  • “The book makes me angry and conjures up confused emotions.” O says this will steer the conversation away from the book and direct it to the conflicted persons emotions – Like that’s a bad thing?  See item 2 above.
  • “Oh, I’d never put up with a man who cheated/gambled/wears womens clothes etc. (you fill in the blank) like this character did, she must have been very weak.” O claims it’s unwise to pass judgment that could translate to someone’s personal life. Are you kidding???  This is where the whole evening gets REALLY interesting – someone pass the Chardonnay!
  • This is the best book in the world!” – According to Ms. O, this will only stimulate discussion of the books people love (and horrors, everyone will have their own favorites)  and again, will detract from the one at hand.  Hmmm…we all know how counter productive this is – discovering the other good books out there – why would a bookclub worth their salt want to waste their time on that?!
  • “I don’t think someone like you can fully appreciate the hero’s situation.” Miz O thinks this is a put-down in “semi-polite” language.  I’d say that’s a put down in ANY language.  Anyone who says it in my bookclub would be called on it, chewed up in “plain” language and spit out by the time dessert rolled around!
  • “Who picked this book anyway?Which O says is almost always delivered after a long rant about why everyone hated the book. It will cause the person who suggested it to retreat, be defensive, and remain silent when considering further selections. Well yeah!!  Isn’t that the point of the rant AND the desired result???
  • “This one’s just over my head” – Ms. O speculates that the person who says this is just pretending to be less insightful to avoid offending people – she’s afraid to stand up for what she thinks. Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!!!!  She’s obviously never attended MY bookclub!
  • “What I really want to talk about is… opening another bottle of wine.”  – There is no talking involved.

Because I couldn’t agree with anything on Madame O’s list of “Things to Never Say at Bookclub”, I made a short list myself.  These are the things you’ll NEVER hear said at my bookclub:

  • “Oh, not another bottle of wine – we’ll never get through it all!”
  • “Don’t bother, we have enough desserts already.”
  • “Here’s a list of thought provoking questions – just to break the ice.”
  • “Let’s gossip later – I’m dying to discuss the protaganist.”
  • “I told my husband I’d be home early.”
  • “I didn’t really think one way or another, I don’t have an opinion to share.”
  •  “no, I would never bring an appetizer from Costco.”
  • “I finished this months and am reading 2 months ahead…”
  • “Everything on the buffet table is low-calorie and heart healthy.”
  • “I really don’t care about your kids/new job/husband-who-dresses-in-women’s clothes/clam dip recipe/new diet and that great sale at Neiman Marcus…we all know we’re here to discuss the book.”
  • “I could use some help with the dishes.”

In my bookclub, the most important question of the evening is “Red or white?” and the only words we don’t want to hear are “The” and “End”.  I love my bookclub – don’t think I’d want to be in one that had “rules” anyway!