When to Say “When” on a Book Club Book

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At what point do we decide it’s time to throw in the towel on a book club book? That’s my dilemma this month, and come to think of it, many months. What I love is what I hate about this book club — we choose critically acclaimed books, usually in genres that are not my favorites. So I get exposed to books I wouldn’t normally choose, but it’s a slog to get through them.

One trick I learned for dealing with the unappealing books — I get audiobook copies from the library. This way, the book has a captive audience of me as I’m driving hither and yon for the day. I almost always log enough hours in the car in a month to finish the book before the next meeting. And “reading” in the car minimizes the chances that I’ll fall asleep after one page, as I am wont to do when reading in bed.

So that’s what I did with this month’s book, by all accounts and reviews “hard-to-put-down” and “riveting”. What am I missing? Even in the car, I’m lost and bored. So to call it quits or not to call it quits? That is the question. (Come to think of it, I realize I felt the same way about Shakespeare — now you know just how sophisticated a reader I am.)

Here’s my conclusion. Give Me 10! is all about looking at your time and using it to your best advantage. If the alternative to listening to the book is flipping through stationes listening for songs I like (at what point did I become part of the “oldies” demographic?), I’d say I’m better served pressing on with the book (and maybe even having an erudite point or two to add at the book club meeting!). If the alternative is finding a different book that’s more engaging, that might be a better option.

In fact, I may look for audio courses at the library or online. My friend, Nell, told me about one site that seems to have great titles (for a fraction of attending Harvard!) is The Great Courses. They have titles covering history, literature, economics, art and more. Many of the sets are 24 lectures or more. That should get you through a fair amount of rush hour traffic. But how will I explain it to the book club…again?

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