Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Confessions of a Book Club Slacker

I joined three book clubs this summer. It’s not a big deal because I read voraciously and the three clubs are very different.

The first, through the Richland County Public Library, reads book-clubbable-books. We read The Postmistress, Before I Go to Sleep, The Language of Flowers, Unbroken, State of Wonder, and The Good Daughters.
The second group, Read Between the Wines, is just what it sounds like: an excuse to drink wine. We read Emily Giffin’s latest, little-known author Mariah Stewart’s Coming Home, and a John Grisham novel called The Litigators. We’re not reading a book in November because it’s the holidays. Yep. Easy peasy.

The third group is an online group of writers and we read writing craft books. We read On Writing by Stephen King, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, and are now reading The Right to Write. I’ve become moderator of this group and find myself more attached to the group’s success than before.

In November the Clemson English Alumni group decided to read Cloud Atlas and meet here, in Columbia, to have a discussion on the book. Book club four? Sure! I’m in.

Try Over-Committing Just Once
It was at this point that book club FAIL occurred.

I didn’t worry too much when I didn’t finish Unbroken in September, I mean, it was brutal.

I didn’t allow myself to be concerned when I didn’t finish Self Editing for Fiction Writers, because, really, it was a workbook with lots of exercises and such.

I didn’t flinch when I failed to complete The Litigators in October because none of the other girls even bothered to start it, what with school going on and Halloween costumes to sew and all that. (Aside, I am the only mom who sewed a Halloween costume)

Then I didn’t finish State of Wonder and I said it was because it put me in a State of Boredom.

Lastly, most recently, I began the 500 page Cloud Atlas four days before it was due. It remains unfinished.

The tally is RCPL – 6 books, RBTW – 3 books, Wordsmith Studio – 4 books with one in progress, Clemson English Alum – 1 book.

Or Let Over-Committing Become Habit

The Clemson English Alum is the most embarrassing. It was like showing up to class without having read the book and attempting to offer any level of insight. Fail. A professor led the discussion and there were two of us. Yep. 

Professor Brian Somebody, me and some guy who works at Michelin who seemed really teed off that I hadn’t finished the book but was talking about it anyway. (I know that look. I gave it in graduate school.)

I’d read three of the six narratives. That’s half. Half. Come on, Kasie. Get yourself together. (Pep Talk Voice) Stop watching The Voice, Revolution, Nashville, and Elementary and read for goodness sake. It’s what you do. You read. Remember?

I did manage to finish The Good Daughters while waiting in line to vote. So I guess I just need another 2 ½ hour chunk of time to waste. That’ll get me through a good book clubbable book.

Or maybe I need more book clubs that are really wine clubs.

In any event, as per my usual over commit and under deliver, I have become a book club slacker. There it is. The truth of it. It’s not pretty but it is what it is. 

And then Figure Out How to Quit Something

I am a habitual quitter. It’s symptomatic of any number of character flaws and I’m sure dates back to my mother letting me quit piano (3rd grade), cello (4th grade) and saxophone (5th grade). I’m not blaming her, as a mom I know that sometimes letting the kid quit is the better decision. 

I’ve quit running, then swimming, then spin class, all once, twice, and three times. New Y. New instructor. New stage in life. New list of excuses. 

I forgot to mention I abandoned the installment of the Outlander series I was reading when we moved. My Goodreads “in progress” shelf still shows it. Ouch. Since April? Yep.

More of the books on my Goodreads shelf here.

I really have committed to and completed a good many things: graduate school, marriage, pregnancy, football season.

But maybe one’s innate nature cannot be overcome.

Maybe it’s in me to abandon the tasks I find undesirable for those I find more desirable.

Maybe I desire TV more than I used to.

Whatever the problem, I must right the ship. I’ll keep you posted on how I plan to do that.

Did you ever quit anything? Why? How did you feel about yourself afterwards?


  1. Is it really quitting? I'd say it's more discovering where you want to spend the waking moments of your life, what passion/drive/purpose do you want to nurture? I've quit a few diets, however, and that probably wasn't a good idea.

    1. Hi, Janice, I didn't recognize you! Welcome back to Clemson Road :-)

      I don't think quitting is a bad thing necessarily, but it's important to call it what it is. If you're committed to finishing and then you don't, it's quitting. The trick is to be okay with it.

  2. I take breaks ... sometimes, extremely extended breaks. I'll take a week-long break from writing, or a day-break from responding to emails ... or a five-year break in reading Les Miserables. (Okay ... make that an 8-year break, followed by a six-year-and-counting break.) I think it's good, though, to let go of things that are keeping you from doing something else you really should be doing, whether you let them go temporarily or permanently!

    1. Thanks, Khara! Glad to see you on Clemson Road.

      I have definitely taken my share of breaks. It's taken me 4 years (and counting) to write my dissertation.

      Every day, every hour, I make a choice about how to spend my time. I usually use this question to guide the decision: "Is what you're doing right now moving you closer to your goals?"

  3. You don't have times for things that aren't valuable. Yes, it's lovely to add to your "read" shelf, but if it isn't something like you may write, something that is helping your writing, or something you enjoy too much to put down-then put it down. That's not quitting. That 's just a lesson in how to write a book people won't put down.

    1. So glad to see you, Lauri! Welcome back to Clemson Road!

      Is it being a grown up to decide that I don't have to finish a book I'm just not that interested in? If so, I'm there. I like your criteria: would I write this? no. Do I enjoy this? no.

      The commitment isn't to the book, though. It's to the group. So do I have an obligation to participate in a full and committed capacity? Of so, read the doggone book.

  4. At least you bothered to show up for the Clemson book club. Most people who didn't read the book (not even half of it) were too embarrassed to show up.

    We all prioritize. Everything in its time. At some point, your life won't be full of kids and school and moving and everything else. You'll have the time to enjoy reading again. Enjoying it is the key.

    1. Thanks, Gail. So glad to see you here on Clemson Road!

      I agree, other priorities eat up book reading time. I have always been bad at estimating how long a task like reading would take. I thought I'd gotten better in grad school, but I still find I underestimate how much time a book requires.

      Also, every time I start reading Charlie and Hollie think I must be bored and start trying to entertain me!

  5. I'm with Janice [Writing On The Sun]. I don't call it quitting. I call it enhanced self-discovery. Seriously though, I would rather try something and fail at my first go, analyze, adapt, and try again. Rinse and repeat. It ain't always pretty, but it gets me from A-Z a lot faster than if I were waiting for the perfect moment. October is over but I'm plugging through those memoir pieces for Jane Ann's challenge. Still getting my gumption for Khara's challenge. And wherever I end up next Saturday will be further down the road than if I hadn't signed up for NaNo.

    1. Hi, Lara Britt!

      The phrase "don't let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game," comes to mind. I don't want to fail BIG, but I'd rather try and fail than not try at all.

      This is in no way meant to condone an A for effort grading system. ;-)

  6. I totally need to join a book (wine) club. That would be great. And I agree with some of the others. You have to try things to know if you'll enjoy them. And if you don't enjoy them, you shouldn't do them. That's the way I look at it. At least you had the courage to try something in the first place. ;)

    1. Glad to see you, Becca!

      Being a joiner has been an awesome experience. I keep showing up to places where I know Not.A.Single.Soul. and then introducing myself. Sometimes it works out great (Columbia Writers Alliance) and sometimes not so much (local running group). Either way, though, I've become a more courageous and confident person for it.

      Now, as I'm building my business, that willingness to reach out to others is really paying off.

  7. Oh boy Kassie, I think I’m with Lori on this. I figure skated for 14 years and then, one day, it was time to stop. Some (mother) called it being a quitter, for me, the time had come to do other things. Maybe it’s a way of trying things on to see if they fit and if they do, then great. If not, then carrying on. PS Often thought about it, never joined a book club.

    1. Hi, Veronica, glad to see you on Clemson Road!

      These three (4) book clubs were my first book club experience. May have overdone it ;-)

  8. Since I'm the Mom who allowed you to quit all of those musical instrument lessons as a child, the choices were made on your having enough time in the day/week for all of your other activities such as school, swimming, and free play. I grew up in believing children should have time for free play because that is what my brothers and I were able to do although we also participated in sports, piano lessons, and scouting. As an adult I have quit any number of sewing projects, several exercise classes, tennis lessons, and even a long ago ceramics class. Quitting those things had to do more with finanaces rather than boredom or laziness. However, one of my deepest regrets is quitting/giving up on several relationships which I should have nurtured. I have however not quit on what I deem to be my most important and worthwhile accomplishments: 3 beautiful and amazing daughters who keep me pushing forward. You have always been the daughter who ran ahead and signed up for something new and exciting because " I'm ready to try it, Mom, and see if it works." You have already accomplished great things and will continue to accomplish even greater things because you are the "amazing Kasie!"

    1. Thanks, mom!

      I definitely like to try a lot of stuff. It's giving up the things that don't fit that I have a problem with. I think that may be your fault, too (ha). You taught me to honor my commitments. Book clubs don't really have an "end." I'd have to drop out.

  9. I belonged to two book clubs and found it was too much. Finally got in touch with why I wasn't finishing the books. I was reading books that a group had chosen, not books I had chosen. I miss seeing the people on a regular basis, but my reading life is unstressful and much improved for my taste in reading. I say give it a rest and read for the joy of it, only.

    1. Hi ya! Thanks for stopping by Clemson Road!

      I am completely in touch with the books-other-people-pick thing. The RCPL book club just voted on next year's books and I got a vote(!) so that's helpful. Since I write the kind of books I want to read, my favorite book club would be the one that reads MY books ;-)

  10. Yikes! This really stings. What I know about myself (and don't like to think about) is that I hate routine and any kind of scheduled "gotta' do." Did it make working all those years hard? You bet! And now that I am retired, I do my best to stay out of scheduled activities. Is this is a good thing? No, not always, but it does prevent me from letting other folks down. I also miss lots of wonderful living. Well, there it is. Pretty ugly, huh?

    1. Sorry to have stung you but thanks for commenting here on Clemson Road.

      My husband is fantasizing about destroying his alarm clock. I think all those years of working and "have to" would certainly create a rebel out of some.

      I did book club to make friends. I'm new here and needed to spend time with people other than Charlie and Hollie.

  11. OMG! "the amazing Kasie" brought tears to my eyes! You GO, Mom. Anyway, I love the post as you will see by my tweet. I am one of the few reading The Right to Write with you and I think you're doing great. Heck, now you're moderating #WSChat. You Go, Girl! *sips her wine*

  12. I can't imagine being in four book clubs, Kasie. I'm involved in only one...and I read just the selections that appeal to me (although I'll take a look at the others). I don't think not finishing the reading was's more like being aware of your limitations (time and interest). When I was younger, I made myself read through every book I got my hands on. Now, I'm more selective.


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