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February 8, 2010

Overcoming Bookpickaphobia

Posted by webmaster
book•pick•a•pho•bi•a: - noun
A persistent, irrational fear of making a bad book club selection. This could be a book that everyone in your group hates or one that people like but doesn’t lend itself to conversation, or simply a book that makes even your closest book club ally scratch her head and wonder what the heck is wrong with you.

As someone who is often responsible for making book club selections, I have to admit I am often overwhelmed by bookpickaphobia. I mean it’s hard to please all of the people all of the time, right? Here are some of my concerns:
  1. I don’t want to pick a book that everyone else is reading. I guess that’s something left over from my rebellious teenage days.

  2. I don’t want to NOT pick something that everyone else is reading. I would hate for my group to be the only people in the world who have not read Water for Elephants or The Help.

  3. If I pick something too sweet and innocent – will everyone think I’m a prude?

  4. If I pick something too racy – will I offend someone?

  5. I don’t always have time to read a book before I suggest it. If I take a chance on something that sounds good or I’ve heard good things about and no one likes it will I have let the group down?

  6. What if I did read the book ahead of time and really loved it and everyone else hates it? What does that say about me?
Like any phobia – I recognize that these fears are irrational. And though I do have these thoughts as my hand reaches to take a book off the shelf or write an email with my latest selection, I am comforted by the knowledge that book club members are some of the best people I know. Even if they don’t love my selection, we still manage to have a good conversation in a supportive and positive environment.

But then there is flip side; sometimes a risky pick pays off. Everyone loves it and is glad to have been exposed to something new. So, I’ll put my fears aside and keep on trying. No risk, no reward, right? Take that bookpickaphobia.

--Dana Barrett, Contributing Editor