Which one are you?

Posted by Guy Pringle, 14th April 2011

I'm not a Daily Mail reader by inclination but I came across this on their website and wondered if you recognised any of your group members therein - or even yourself???



She’s the staple of every book group, well-intentioned but over-stretched. She always arrives late, usually with food in her hair. There’s invariably an on-going crisis at home  — the baby is teething, the teenager has thrown a strop and her husband’s job is on the line.

The Harried Mother has never read the book. ‘I started it,’ she says, ‘but life got in the way. Was it any good? I wish I had the time to read, but having kids has put an end to all that.’ Harried Mother usually leaves early to sort things out at home. She’d be better off at a yoga class to relieve stress.



She has always read the book, has often read comparative works by other authors, and has usually done forensic web research. She might even have printed off detailed reference notes for the group and will already have bought tickets to see the author at a literature festival.

This, despite the fact that she works full-time in an Alpha job, has a big family, fits in copious good works for a local charity, and always looks immaculate. Every group needs her: she’s focused and organised, and always comes armed with four well-considered suggestions for books to read next time.



She’s here for the social interaction because she never reads the book. Ever. She’d be better placed at a Virgin Vie party buying bath soak, or at home watching Jennifer Aniston rom-coms.

She’s likely to suggest a chick-lit novel which, under duress, everyone else reads but hates. Then when we turn up next month, The ‘I’m not much of a reader’ admits she ‘forgot’ to buy the book, but wants to tell us all about her gorgeous new chocolate Labrador puppy.

If there’s a film or a TV adaptation of the book, she doesn’t see the point in reading it.



She sits nervously worrying about whether she has provided enough nibbles, the right kind of wine, and whether anyone will notice that passatta stain on the carpet.

While everyone else is wrestling with the power of metaphor, The Hostess is on a constant trek to the kitchen, ferrying dips, olives and very crumbly cake to guests who seem not to appreciate her efforts. The dog’s barking because he resents being shut in the utility room, and her husband will moan about being banished to the spare room for the evening.



Always a phenomenal bore. She talks too much. She doesn’t debate: she dominates. She likes to drone on about herself, using the most tenuous of links to the book under discussion.

‘When he’s mugged on that beach in Ecuador in Chapter Two, it reminded me of when Ralph and I were in Cyprus last year and we were ripped off by a taxi driver in Paphos.’

The Floor-Hogger is impossible to avoid and hard to manage, but shows up with depressing regularity for a chance to take Centre Stage.



Her only field of interest is the private life of everyone in the room . . . in the street. She always comes armed to the teeth with gossip — who’s left their spouse, how much the house on the corner sold for, whose child is struggling at school.

She makes no pretence of why she is at the Book Group, and never makes any attempt to read the book. Why would she? She is here to prey on those whose tongues have been loosened by supermarket wine.


Mandy Appleyard, Daily Mail, 14/4/2011


Marisa Birns said...

Hmm. I'm the one who would want to be a member of a co-ed book club.

And I'd bring the Prosecco.

Posted on Fri 15 Apr 2011 @ 19:49

Judith Power said...

Loved this article on us 'book group regulars' even though it was found in the Daily Mail. Noticed in 'What we're reading' that Guy had watched the Channel 4 Book Group. So did I, but went on holiday before the result of the vote for the best book. I was routing for John McGregor's Even the Dogs, but I'd love to hear which book won, if anyone knows.
regards to all. Judith

Posted on Wed 20 Apr 2011 @ 20:41

Mandy Jenkinson said...

Bet you already guessed, Guy - I'm The Head Girl
Apart from the ......"despite the fact that she works full-time in an Alpha job, has a big family, fits in copious good works for a local charity, and always looks immaculate" bit, most definitely not the good works and immaculate bit! But the rest pretty much sums me up!

Posted on Tue 26 Apr 2011 @ 15:31

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