ASK AMY

The Fresno Bee (Sunday) - - Life - You can con­tact Amy Dick­in­son via email: [email protected]­dick­in­son. com. Read­ers may send postal mail to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also fol­low her on Twit­ter @ask­ingamy or “like” her on Face­book.

Dear Amy: Per­haps you can help me ne­go­ti­ate a sen­si­tive breakup – with my book club.

Ten of us have been meet­ing monthly for seven years, since our found­ing by a dear friend (who passed away re­cently). We have had a pleas­antly eclec­tic se­quence of fic­tion and non­fic­tion books and, in­vari­ably, ter­rific meals.

But lately we’ve had a run of ti­tles I just find te­dious. More and more, con­ver­sa­tion drifts from our book to work, fam­ily, va­ca­tions and other mat­ters I don’t much care to chat­ter about.

The other book club mem­bers are neigh­bor­hood friends and other ac­quain­tances that I like. I don’t want to hurt their feel­ings, and I can’t think of any way to gen­tly back away. If I say I can’t do sec­ond Tues­days any­more, they will surely agree to find a new night. But it’s time to go. How? Burned-out Bookie

Dear Burned-Out: You may think it is rel­a­tively easy to find a new book club, but in my ex­pe­ri­ence, it can ac­tu­ally be quite chal­leng­ing. Many clubs are more or less closed to new mem­bers. It might be a good idea to see if you can find an­other club to join, be­fore you make any sud­den moves out of this one.

Otherwise, be­cause you are a char­ter mem­ber of this club, you could try to re­fo­cus the club back to its orig­i­nal func­tion. Who is choos­ing the ti­tles? Who, if any­one, is lead­ing these dis­cus­sions? The dis­cus­sions might drift be­cause the ti­tles aren’t en­gag­ing enough. Or, more likely, your club has ex­pe­ri­enced a fa­mil­iar drift – away from books and to­ward food and fel­low­ship.

The dynamic of your club (and your in­ter­est in it) would have changed dras­ti­cally with the death of one mem­ber. Don’t dis­count the im­pact of this loss on all of you. So – talk about it!

Don’t in­vent an ex­cuse or con­flict. If you choose NOT to con­front any of the prob­lems you see creep­ing into the club, you should start by say­ing, “I’m plan­ning to step away from the club for six months or so. Would you all be will­ing to wel­come me back af­ter this sab­bat­i­cal?” This would buy you some time to make a def­i­nite choice, and would also soften your exit – both for you and for the other mem­bers.

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