The RISING guide to book club etiquette

Fri 19 April

Six rules for book club to prepare you for The First Bad Man show about a book club (that’s also, itself, a kind of book club)

Miranda July’s debut novel The First Bad Man is an odd-couple comedy about a lonely woman named Cheryl. It’s heart-breaking, tender, funny, disgusting and weird—an indie classic. Of course, not everyone is likely to think so. Which is why we have book clubs. Pan Pan Theatre’s The First Bad Man is a performative book club that lives the fiction of the book.

RISING attendees get a copy of the novel thanks to our friends at Readings. You don’t have to read it. But, if you do, you’re in an automatic book club, of sorts. So, in honour of Cheryl—a woman who craves structure—we’ve gathered six simple rules to help keep any book club running smoothly.

Rule 1 : Don’t pick a book over 400 pages

I know you’ve always been meaning to read Middlemarch. So have we. But it’s not a book club book.

Rule 2 : Don’t pick a book everyone will like

You all liked it. Some of you liked it for varied and specific reasons. Now what do you talk about? All you have is wine and each other’s company. Which was maybe the point all along. But still…

Rule 3 : Read the book

I know we just said you don’t have to read The First Bad Man. And it’s true, your enjoyment of the Pan Pan Theatre performance isn’t predicated on reading the book. But, in general, try and read the book club book. Abandoning a truly terrible book is encouraged but even if it’s been a crazy month at least try and read some of it. Public libraries often have audiobook versions. And, if you’ve only read half, show up anyway expecting spoilers.

Rule 4 : Let everyone speak

Start off by going around and getting everyone’s thoughts on the book from the outset. That way even if certain people dominate the conversation, you’ve all had a chance to share.

Rule 5 : cap the numbers

Your new, perhaps lonely seeming, book-lover friend or fresh-in-town cousin shyly implies they’d like to join. It would be genuinely very nice and sweet if they did. But no! At a certain point you have to cap the numbers.

Rule 6 : pick a date and stick to it

This is, perhaps, the golden rule. First Thursday of the month. Done. If you can’t make it, go to the next one. Structure is crucial.

Buy tickets to The First Bad Man

The First Bad Man is proudly supported by Readings.

Readings Small White

Subscribe for RISING ticket releases, program updates, moon musings and star signs

Principal public partner

  • Melbourne - Visit Victoria

Follow along

  • Instagram
  • TikTok
  • Facebook
  • Spotify
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube

RISING © 2024