A combo of two suggestions by: Heidi and by litlove
Have you ever been a member of a book club? How did your group choose (or, if you haven’t been, what do you think is the best way to choose) the next book and who would lead discussion?
Do you feel more or less likely to appreciate books if you are obliged to read them for book groups rather than choosing them of your own free will? Does knowing they are going to be read as part of a group affect the reading experience?
As soon as I read this question, I knew I wanted to write a post to answer it!
When I worked at the University of Pennsylvania, I found out that there was a Library Book Group that met once a month. I had never belonged to a book group before, and was hesitant to join this one. Mainly because I feared that the discussions would have a lot of terms like "deconstructionist" and "postmodern" and similar terms used by the literati. (We are talking Ivy League here, after all ...)
But in the end, my love of reading, and my desire to be around people who also liked to read made me give it a try. It was one of the best experiences of my life. The bulk of the members worked in the various campus libraries, but there were also members from other academic departments, both professional and support staff. The group had been started years before I had joined, so there was no squabbling about who did what, how things were decided, etc.
Were there "literati" there? Some, but most of the people just wanted to talk about books, and even said things like "I just thought the character of ____ was a jerk." True, there were some members that after a few meetings, I knew could be expected to insert comments to let us all know how smart they were - one woman always managed to start one of her comments with, "I remember when I was at Wellesley ...", and another person would always say things like, "I remember when I first read the original French version ..." And though I still think it is obnoxious to be like that, I got to the point where I would make little internal bets with myself to try and guess when/why/how they would work it in.
The rules were simple: The book had to be available in paperback. Each person had a chance to choose, and it was in alphabetical order by first name. Other than that, it could be fiction, poetry, biography, anything. We would meet once a month at lunch hour and discuss the book. It was a lot of fun, a great way to meet people, and a learning experience, since everyone brought a different background to their opinions and observations.
I have to say that one of the biggest benefits for me was reading things that I may not have ever even thought about choosing for myself. There were plenty that I didn't like, or didn't finish, or just didn't get, but there were some real gems too, and it broadened my reading considerably. And for me at least, knowing it would be discussed never made the reading experience any more or less enjoyable.
I miss that kind of thing, as there has never been such a group anyplace else I have worked since. A couple of times, I thought about getting a group together myself, but usually it would turn out that the interested people only wanted to read mysteries, or classics, or something else very specific. Which is fine, but part of the reason I enjoyed the Library Book Group is that we read a little bit of everything.
So now I just usually spend my time reading on my own, in the original language versions, just like when I was at Wellesley ...
Oh - except I never attended Wellesley, and have read very few entire works in a language other than English - but other than that ...