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woman who reads too much

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01:33 pm: book group argh
I hosted book group last month. (This is the book group that I was in for eleven years, then dropped out for ten, then dropped back in; the group is a year older than my daughter, so I've been back in for ~three years. We each pick a month to host: the host chooses the book and makes dinner. I host at Jo's house because my house is really not fit to invite people into.)

My book was Housekeeping. I checked a book group kit (10 copies of the book + a binder with reviews and biographical information) out of the library. It's due back today.

Three people didn't return their copies to me at book group, which was three weeks ago. I sent email to the whole list earlier this week, reminding people that the kit was due August 8, and that the library has a strong preference that all the items be returned together, so to please give them back to me. Two people did.

What would you do? Other pieces of information that may or may not affect your decision:

- I am almost but not 100% sure that I know who took a book and hasn't given it back.

- I find this woman very tiring, because I don't think she likes me, but she seems to want to cover it up by over-acting affection. Insincerity is never more exhausting than when it comes in hugs and prolonged one-on-one conversations.

- I have been considering dropping out of this book group anyway, because as a whole, it doesn't bring me enough happy to make up for the times it makes me feel slighted.

- On the other hand, there are people in this book group that I like a lot and I am sure they like me. I know I could theoretically drop out of book group but maintain the individual relationships, but I know me and I would not make that happen.

- Also long-term relationships are more useful for learning about people than any number of first dates.

- This is not a good time for me to accept advice that begins, "Why don't you just..."

This entry was originally posted at http://boxofdelights.dreamwidth.org/272289.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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[User Picture]
From:lookfar
Date:August 9th, 2015 12:12 am (UTC)
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Seems like you have two questions: what to do about the missing book, and whether to quit your book group. As an aside, maybe you make the fake-affectionate person anxious, not disliking. I tend to jabber on when someone makes me anxious. And if so, who knows why you do? Might have nothing to do with you personally. For a long time, certain kinds of attractive and assertive men made me uneasy; it had nothing to do with them personally, but with my history.

Maybe it would be easier to first deal with the missing book? If it were me, I wouldn't overthink it too much. I'd call or text* and say "Marybelle, I'm still missing one copy of Housekeeping. Do you have it?" And if yes, please drop it into your mailbox or on your front step while you are not at home. Pick a time when you are sure to be Not At Home.

As for whether to quit the group, I think that calculation of pleasure vs. unpleasure is very personal. Maybe some of your flist who struggle with social stuff might have a better way to make the calculation. It sounds like you are trying to decide if it's good for you/therapeutic enough to make the unpleasure worth it.


*I think sometimes when one avenue of communication has failed to work, it's worth trying one of the others.
[User Picture]
From:boxofdelights
Date:August 10th, 2015 07:35 am (UTC)
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Thank you! I emailed both of the women that I hadn't talked to directly about the book. The one who I thought still had it replied that she had returned it. I walked around with a little black storm cloud over my head for a day and a half. Then the other one turned up at my door with it! No apologies, but at least I don't have to pay the library for a lost book.

Still have to decide whether to drop out of book group though.
[User Picture]
From:amaebi
Date:August 9th, 2015 03:49 am (UTC)
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No advice. I'm just sorry.
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From:boxofdelights
Date:August 10th, 2015 07:36 am (UTC)
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Thank you.
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From:blamebrampton
Date:August 9th, 2015 09:32 am (UTC)
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Before doing anything else I would double check that I have not misplaced my own copy of the book. Because I have met me and my ability to store books under the sofa for months. Assuming you're more organised ...

I would want to blow up her letterbox in the middle of the night, but given that's illegal and would require some serious thought on detonation strategies to lower risk, I'd settle for Option two.

Option two would be to ring her and in a voice of forced cheerfulness say 'Hi Irritating Woman* I think you've still got X book. Can you get it over here this afternoon?'

When she (in all likelihood) says 'Oh, no, I gave it back.' I'd say 'Can you remember exactly when? Because you're the one whose book I have no record of being returned.'

At that point one of three things could occur: she could say 'Oh, it was ... actually ... oh, you know, you're right. Oops!' and then organise to get it back. Hurrah! She could say 'Oh no, I left it on the yellow side table in your living room at the end of the meeting' and if that tallied with where a book had been I would knock her off the suspect list. Or she could say 'Oh, no, I definitely don't have it. It's definitely not me' and I would know she was the one and worth dropping off my list of people I interacted with forever. So, two out of three chances for her to do well, which is more than fair!

And if it was option two, I would apologise for thinking it must have been her and say that I had only assumed it because she was the one I had no physical memory of returning her book and ask if she had any suggestions for who might be the one with the book still out, which would give her a chance to feel engaged since that's clearly important to her.

I wouldn't drop out of book club, but I would institute a sign in sign out process for all books I borrowed on the club's behalf in future. And ruefully say 'I know, it's such a shame, but after last time, well ...'


*Though I would use her name here, because I am British and cursed to politeness. But inside my head ...
[User Picture]
From:boxofdelights
Date:August 10th, 2015 07:43 am (UTC)
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Thank you for the comprehensive advice! I emailed both of the women who didn't hand me the book directly. As it turned out, the one that I thought was responsible did say, essentially, 'Oh, no, I definitely don't have it. It's definitely not me,' and I assumed that it *was* her -- but then the other one turned up at my door with the book! I don't know why she didn't reply to my email, to save me a day and a half of thinking bad thoughts about the innocent person, but at least I have all the books back now!
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From:pennski
Date:August 9th, 2015 10:21 am (UTC)
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I think you have 2 good suggestions already on possible approaches, so just hugs from over here.
[User Picture]
From:boxofdelights
Date:August 10th, 2015 07:37 am (UTC)
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Thank you.
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From:sam_t
Date:August 10th, 2015 03:06 pm (UTC)
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I am also not good at maintaining individual relationship without something to prod me into doing it. I think what I'd do in those circumstances is to keep on the mailing list but make a deal with myself that I don't have to go to every book club meeting *if* I make an effort to see the people I want to see on other occasions.

So I'd try to use a meeting as an opportunity to ask one or more of those particular people if they want to go to X event, or for coffee on Wednesday, or whatever (not doing the inviting in front of other people, but catching them just before or after or sending an email that said 'it was great to see you at book club - I meant to ask whether you wanted to come round for dinner at some point').

The next time the meeting date rolls round, if I hadn't managed to think of something to invite them to, or if schedules didn't work out, I'd still go to the book club meetings. If I'd seen them recently and wasn't too bothered about that month's book, I'd make an excuse and not go without feeling guilty. If I ever got to the point of seeing the people I want to see regularly without the book group, I'd drop it altogether.

I don't know whether that would give you enough time away from the annoying bits of the book group, though.
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