The answer is simple, “There is no perfect book club.” Book clubs come in all shapes and sizes. It’s a matter of finding the one that fits you best.
One look at the Book Club Meetups in New York page and you’ll see a wide variety:
Book Clubs vary from, “We talk about the book, only the book, and all about the book,” to, “We drink wine and occasionally bring up the book,” to, “We use the book as a jumping off point to discuss topics that interest us” and all kinds of models in-between.
How do I know what kind of book club I want? Consider the following statements:
Why am I joining a book club? Is it that you want to talk about and hear from others about Americanah in particular? Is it that you need to get out of the house and/or just be around people, and the book is a helpful tool that helps bring a focus to your conversation? Is it that you want to host something yourself, invite people into your space and/or find a community space to welcome people into for an Americanah conversation?
What do I want to get out of a book club? Do you want to walk away with more understanding of Americanah? More questions than answers? Do you want the experience of connecting with others, and if it’s about the book, that’s good but not a requirement? Do you want to leave book club with a sense that you had a well-rounded experience, having talked about the book and about life in general, having heard from others about their experience with the book and their day-to-day struggles/celebrations?
What do I bring to a book club? Just like so many things in life, you get out of book club what you bring to it. Do you bring a perspective aligned with Ifemelu, as a person who has moved to a new country yourself? Do you bring a curiosity and open mind? Do you bring a loud voice and welcoming attitude, a soft voice and the ability to hold space for others, a desire to connect with others and a willingness to reach out? What is it you want to contribute?
What are my limitations? Limitations are real. Knowing what is fixed and what is flexible for you will help as you choose, whether it’s to join book club or to start one of your own. Do you need a book club close to home so you’re not away too long? Do you need it to meet on a particular night to fit into your busy schedule? What time of day will/won’t work for you? Do you need more or less structure within the conversation? What else do you need to consider?
Which, if any, of these limitations are fixed? Which are flexible?
All that said, don’t let finding the “perfect” fit keep you from exploring and experimenting. You never know who you may meet and how bringing your perspective and style can make the club you join just right for Americanah and YOU!