On the agenda: Fargo; Murakamification; St Patrick’s Day; pole-dancing droids


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The Independent Culture

Middle-class problems: Reading book-club books

By Holly Williams

The novel in question was agreed at last month's book club. The local bookshop didn't have it in stock, but you shouldn't order off Amazon these days, should you, even if it is blessedly quick? So that was an unavoidable delay.

And you really did mean to get stuck in of an evening… but somehow slumping in front of Gogglebox was more appealing. So suddenly it's book-group night and the spine of the designated tome – maybe a middlebrow novel about the history of Zimbabwe or a magical-realist epic across three generations and continents – remains defiantly uncracked.

You could always crib a few reviews and busk it, with arch comments about "exquisite descriptions of the landscape" or "devastatingly moving character development". Flick, flick, sigh: "It's semi-autobiographical, you know…"

You can't lie like that to your friends – for one, they're bound to bust you. But you also can't not go to book club. This monthly get-together is now your primary source of impassioned debate and intellectual stimulation! Even if, admittedly, stimulation also comes from the many bottles of Pinot Grigio the host picks up from M&S for the occasion. Even if the catch-up and gossip are as important as the literary analysis.

Which is why, when you sheepishly confess you maybe didn't quite finish the book – in fact, you maybe didn't really start it – there's more often than not a collective sigh of relief.

Now then, did anyone catch First Dates last night?