DEAR HARRIETTE: I got invited to attend a book club by one of my friends. She thought it would be a great way for our friends and the women in the neighborhood to meet one another. I was all for it, and I never turn down a chance to read and discuss books. However, when I got there, I was immediately offered booze and gossip.
I don't think anyone at my friend's house even knew what book we were reading, except for two women I had a great conversation with. I don't feel comfortable calling this gathering a book club, but I did get a chance to meet two like-minded women. Normally something like this wouldn't be for me, but maybe this is what book clubs are now? -- Bookworm, Denver
DEAR BOOKWORM: Many book clubs present legitimate opportunities for participants to engage in lively conversations about books that they have actually read. Indeed, some book clubs are very strict about their guidelines and may even send reminders to participants that they must have completed the reading before the time of the meeting, or they should not attend.
On the flip side, other book clubs serve more as opportunities for social engagement. Food, drink and socializing can take precedence in these gatherings, at least on occasion. This, naturally, can be frustrating for people who really want to discuss the meat of the book.
What you should do as you continue to search for your right fit is to ask a few questions upfront so that you find out if the club you are considering follows guidelines that you agree with.