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Wednesday 20 January 2010

Book Clubs: Part 2

The Long and the Short of it

You may think I’m completely bonkers but I have come to the conclusion that there is a perfect length for a book club novel and it’s 300 pages, give or take!

I have just conducted a scientific survey by going to my own bookshelves, picking out many of the titles used in book clubs, flicking to the back and finding that the range was not less than 280 pages and not more than 350. QED!

Having said that, I know many club that have tackled The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver which comes in at a whopping 614 pages, every one a gem. And there’s many clubs that have loved The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett who manages to tell a wonderfully imaginative and succinct tale over a mere 128 pages.

A long book is too much for most busy people to get through in the time available (usually a month) and a short book does not always have enough meat for an entire evening’s discussion. Having said that, The Trial by Franz Kafka, coming in at a crisp 197 pages (depending on the translation) inspired such a thought provoking discussion with my gang that I cannot recommend it highly enough.

On a practical level, book club members will get to the end of a novel that is a reasonable length, even if it’s not something they’re particularly enjoying. And if everyone has read the book, everyone can fully take part in the discussion.

So, before you choose a novel for your book club, give a thought to its size and then proceed to the next stage in the process of trying to please some of the people some of the time because take it from me, you won’t please all of the people all of the time!

~Posted by Mary

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