There’s this woman in my book club. She seemed nice enough at first, but lately she’s gotten really annoying. She flaunts her ivy league MFA and turns every discussion into a lecture on the finer points of Faulkner and Hemmingway. This group started off as just a social meeting of who wanted to talk casually about books, not an English class. What used to be a fun Thursday night gathering has now turned into something I kind of dread. Can we get rid of this woman?
Bookworm, West Village

2004_04_askbooks.jpgWell, you could “disband” and start meeting on Wednesday nights with the people you do like. Just kidding. Every group – be it a book club or a knitting circle or a writer’s group or what have you – often has that one person that joins that few people can stand. Usually, they just take the given activity a little too seriously. Since it would be rude to exclude the woman, you should mention to her that the point of the group is just to be a casual discussion, and while you appreciate the knowledge this woman brings to the table, you’d rather talk about how great the Mark Darcy character is, and not necessarily the influences of Jane Austen on contemporary fiction. If that doesn’t work, you may have to appoint someone (or several someones) to let her know that her attitude during your discussions just isn’t quite in sync with the spirit of the group, and that if she doesn’t try to change, she’ll just have to find another book club.

Incidentally, book clubs and other similar social activities can be a great way to meet like-minded people. New Yorkers are frequently met with the paradox of living in a city with 8 million people and yet never meeting anyone new; going out of your way to find some of these groups is an excellent way to overcome that. Book clubs often advertise at independent book stores and online. Or start one yourself with a couple of coworkers and see where it leads.