The Help Desk: My book club is going soft!

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Dear Cienna,

I’ve been a part of a book club for five years. It’s a good group of people—all friends—and we started the group so we could keep reading the kind of challenging literary fiction we used to read in college as English majors. We’ve all been very happy with our selections.

Until recently.

Lately, I noticed that the group has been gravitating to more fluffy selections. The kind of stereotypical women-having-epiphanies kind of stuff that Oprah used to pick for her book club. At our last meeting, I asked if we were going to get back to the more complex books we used to read, and I kind of got shut down. I’m clearly the only one who feels this way.

I don’t know what’s going on here, exactly. Maybe they’re too upset by President T*p to be serious? Maybe they’re gravitating away from edgy material as they get older? Anyway, I want to quit, but I don’t want to be primadonnaish about it, or indicate that I don’t value their friendship at all. Do you have advice on how to approach this?**

Skyler, Seward Park

Dear Skyler,

Book clubs are social clubs. I empathize with not enjoying every book chosen for book club – I haunt several book clubs and am unapologetic about quitting books that don't appeal to me. Like most people, I attend them because occasionally, mama likes to shake off her spiders, put on pants that button and listen to other women discuss their blood-sucking dependents in a wine-infused setting. Plus, understanding how different readers approach and interpret a story, even a fluffy one, illuminates the text and your fellow human being.

I get the sense that the books you read in your club are based on consensus. Where I you and wanted to continue enjoying the company of my friends, I'd ask my book club to begin letting a new person choose the book each meeting. That way, everyone's tastes are represented (it doesn't hurt to grapple with less "complex" books from time to time).

But it seems that you want out, so breaking up with your book club is simple. You say, "Hey gang, my doctor recently told me that I'm allergic to fluffy, women-having-epiphanies, Oprah-book-club style books. Apparently, exposure to these kinds of books is aggravating my immune system's snob response – you may not have noticed because I've done a really great job at hiding it thus far. But now I'm on a strict diet of complex literature, which means I'm going to have to take a break from book club and your valued human company until you grow better taste in books."

Or just tell them work is busy and you have to take a break.