Have you ever been a member of a book club? How did your group choose (or, if you haven’t been, what do you think is the best way to choose) the next book and who would lead discussion?
Do you feel more or less likely to appreciate books if you are obliged to read them for book groups rather than choosing them of your own free will? Does knowing they are going to be read as part of a group affect the reading experience?
Funny you should ask about book clubs. I just attended the first meeting of a brand new book club on Monday. There are 12 women; our commonality is that we all know the woman who gathered and hosted us Monday evening - and that we all love to read, of course. We'll meet once a month for 90 minutes (which I don't think is long enough for twelve women to discuss a yummy book, but we'll see).
We came to consensus pretty quickly and easily about how to run the group. We each came with a title or two to propose. The person who champions the book then hosts the meeting for that book - meaning: providing the physical space as well as author information and, if desired, reader questions (e.g. study guide-type questions).
It took us about an hour to come up with ten books and a calendar. I was impressed how quickly it all came together. We also talked about having book exchanges and potlucks because, well, we're all middle aged women and we like to have a good time!
This is my second F to F book club experience; the first was many years ago and didn't hold together very long - I don't even remember why. Part of why I want to participate in this is to enrich my reading experience. I tend to read quite literally and so I enjoy hearing other's perspectives about books and what nuggets they mine from the reading.
Re: Part Two of this week's question - I don't read well under pressure. I don't enjoy it as much if I'm on a timeline because sometimes I'll feel obligated to read when I don't really want to (when's that???). But I think I read deeper and look for issues, symbols, allusions more than when it's not an "assigned" read. I've done quite a bit of online book clubbing at LibraryThing and do notice a difference in the way I read. But if it's a book I'm really enjoying, it doesn't really matter.
Some of the books we've chosen for our new group:
Oscar and Lucinda
Three Cups of Tea
The Bonesetter's Daughter
The Book Thief
I think I can live with those!