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to cringe at wanky book club questions at the end of novels?

(33 Posts)
RealHuman Sat 08-Aug-15 16:21:00

It feels like a combination of being patted on the head and congratulated for sharing your reading tastes with Oprah Winfrey, and a kind of sub-GCSE comprehension test.

Does anyone else feel even vaguely annoyed by this trend in popular semi-literary fiction?

EastMidsMummy Sat 08-Aug-15 16:24:01

YANBU. Put a link in the book to that material online, if you like, but don't make the book a novel plus a commentary on the novel.

ImperialBlether Sat 08-Aug-15 16:26:49

I hate it too. I particularly hate it when the book is shockingly bad and I wonder who the hell thought it would be the subject of a book club discussion. If it's self published - so the questions are posed by the author - a bit of me dies inside.

RealHuman Sat 08-Aug-15 16:31:25

I know some would say "Just don't read it, then" but I hate leaving a book unfinished, so it's really hard to not read the banal "discussion topics" that someone thinks might be interesting to hash over, rather than absorbing the end of the story in my own time. I know this is only my own personal compulsion and my own cross to bear, though grin

MomentOfWonder Sat 08-Aug-15 16:37:06

People do it in self-published books? Blimey. Totally agree that a link to that kind of stuff on the Internet is fine, but it does feel like a bit like a 'WE'RE CONFIDENT THAT EVERYONE YOU KNOW WILL READ THIS BOOK (BELIEVE THE HYPE!) AND THIS IS WHAT YOU SHOULD THINK ABOUT IT' klaxon when it takes up a substantial section of the book itself. Let me at least pretend to myself that I have slightly individual taste wink

AgathaChristie01 Sat 08-Aug-15 16:40:38

It put me off one particular author. I had enjoyed her first book which didn't have questions at the end. I don't even pick up her books off the shelf now in a bookshop.
It's a bit like putting 'Discuss' at the end of an OP. I think 'no, I won't'

RealHuman Sat 08-Aug-15 16:43:47

I bet it was Jodi Picoult. That's where I first noticed this fashion.

Petridish Sat 08-Aug-15 16:45:04

Jodi Picault is very much guilty of this.

MamaMary Sat 08-Aug-15 16:47:02

I hate it too. The books that have it are normally trite and badly-written, in my experience.

I guess it's a marketing device - the authors/ publishers think the book will be more likely to be used in a book-group if it has these questions at the end.

RealHuman Sat 08-Aug-15 17:06:33

And it means the story ends before I've mentally prepared myself for the ending too - I think there are several pages left, and boom, story's over and I'm being asked how I think the main character has changed by the end of the novel angry

DadOnIce Sat 08-Aug-15 17:06:41

It's trying to give books a "DVD Extra" feel, isn't it? But yes, the questions usually are very patronising, good-girl/good-boy pat-on-the-head and sub-GCSE.

I don't mind an interview with the writer (although this does rather presume you don't have access to the internet, and I don't really like it when they're made to explain the book to me).

MomentOfWonder Sat 08-Aug-15 17:17:13

Dad why not go the whole hog with a director's commentary of footnotes? 'Interestingly, this character was originally going to be called Sarah. But my editor said Charlotte would do better in the American market so...'

ILovedYouYesterday Sat 08-Aug-15 17:19:22

I've only ever seen this in Jodi Picoult books and, yes, it has put me off her too!

StormBraver Sat 08-Aug-15 17:30:58

Hee, MomentofWonder, no doubt that will be coming soon!
I can't say this has ever particularly bothered me. I usually glance at the questions and feel a bit dim when I can't really think how to answer them despite having a degree in English Literature.

editthis Sat 08-Aug-15 17:31:54

It's dreadful, yes. But surely it's not the author's fault?! The publisher/marketing people, I would guess...?

MomentOfWonder Sat 08-Aug-15 17:37:57

Maybe that's the real reason I get irritated with them too Storm!

MagratGarlik Sat 08-Aug-15 17:44:10

Diane Chamberlain does this too and yes, it is annoying!

cosytoaster Sat 08-Aug-15 17:44:33

Ha ha - came on here to say particularly wanky in Jodi Picoult books, she doesn't even write that well.

Clawdy Sat 08-Aug-15 18:25:20

I think it's to try and make a very ordinary book seem more important. I agree it is really annoying.

toffeeboffin Sat 08-Aug-15 18:40:50

Just came on to say I love the work 'wanky'. It's so Britishgrin

As you were.

mysteryfairy Sat 08-Aug-15 18:47:46

The Jodi Picoult ones are outstandingly cringey. I've only read a couple as the books are commonly left behind in holiday lets (funny that) and the questions really are the icing on the cowpat. I can't imagine any book club ever reads one of her novels - they're not classed as even semi-literary fiction are they?

ImperialBlether Sat 08-Aug-15 19:52:33

No, though many book clubs will have read My Sister's Keeper, simply because it leads to a good discussion. I read once that JP takes 9 months to write a book and my immediate thought was she should take twice as long. I think she's such a big seller now that her editor is scared to suggest changes.

Fishwives Sat 08-Aug-15 20:04:45

I agree the questions are awful, sub-literate shite, but they're certainly also appended to excellent, highly-acclaimed literary fiction in subsequent editions. I put Hilary Mantel's brilliant Beyond Black on a reading list, and was gobsmacked that the paperback the campus bookshop ordered in had a full set of dopey questions.

Mind you, there's an emerging genre of 'book group fiction', I recently discovered, though I find the idea of someone deliberately writing to provoke pondering in response to dumb 'Is Kevin's Cold, Ambivalent Mother Therefore Responsible for His Crimes???' type questions a bit depressing. As if the author wrote the discussion topics first and then the novel...

(Not suggesting that about Lionel Shriver, just an example that came to mind... Jodie Picoult may do.)

Hygellig Sat 08-Aug-15 20:51:42

I usually skim through them, but I've never belonged to a book group. I like the questions at the end of Karen Joy Fowler's novel The Jane Austen Book Club. One of the characters asks something along these lines: "In this novel, I have two serious accidents. I make hand-made jewellery for a living. Do you think someone like me would be able to afford health insurance in the US?"

hackmum Sat 08-Aug-15 20:54:37

"A year of reading dangerously" by Andy Miller (very funny, by the way), has a parody of book club type questions at the end. This made me warm to him, as does the fact that at one point in the book he mentions Mumsnet (and not in a "Mumsnet are a nest of vipers" type way).

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