Some Thoughts on the Inaugural Simple Dollar Book Club

Now that the inaugural edition of The Simple Dollar book club is over, it’s time to sit back and look at what was good about it and what was bad about it.

First, the good. I think overall it went well, and I know quite a few people out there did get into the book. At least a few people were very into it, and sent me emails about how much they enjoyed the book and the commentary. I think I did a good job balancing commentary on the reading sections with enough highlights so that even people not reading along could follow, too, and the comments were largely worthwhile, especially during the more interesting parts of the book.

There were also at least three significant problems, though, and I thought I’d address these individually.

First, the quantity and pace on the same book was overwhelming for some. A few readers wrote to me and asked if they could read the site without the daily articles on the book. Others wrote and said that they were having difficulty reading every single day to keep up with the pace, even with such short readings.

Second, the book was simply uninteresting for some, and that made a quarter of the posts this month a waste for them. Investment-oriented folks, as well as people seeking primarily frugality tips, were largely bored by this. At least one reader wrote to me voicing an opinion that the book was terribly boring and she didn’t see the point.

Third, some pieces of the book were simply less interesting than others. If you look through the posts, you can tell by the number of comments which pieces were intriguing and which ones weren’t. The pieces of the book that are good are golden, but there are other parts that just aren’t as intriguing.

I have three significant questions for people who followed along.

Did you enjoy it, and what parts did you like and not like? If you didn’t, don’t hesitate to say so, because I’m going to use this information to decide how exactly to handle the next one, if there is a next one.

Similarly, are you interested in another book club like this one, given that there may be some changes? Meaning, are you open to another reading like what happened with Your Money or Your Life?

If so, what book would you like to read? I offer up nine nominees – please choose ones from this list that you’d like to read and/or see discussed in a detailed format. I’ve read all these books and am confident that they’re good enough and meaty enough to generate some good discussions.

What Color Is Your Parachute? by Richard Nelson Bolles (careers)
The Intelligent Investor by Benjamin Graham (value investing)
Born to Buy by Juliet Schor (children and consumerism)
America’s Cheapest Family by Steve and Annette Economides (frugality)
Getting Things Done by David Allen (task management)
The Bogleheads’ Guide to Investing by Taylor Larimore, Mel Lindauer, Michael LeBoeuf, and John C. Bogle (conservative investing)
The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey (debt freedom – and would probably make for heated discussion)
Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferazzi and Tahl Raz (communicating and building professional relationships)
A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton J. Malkiel (stock investing)

I’d be happy to know which ones of these you’d be interested in reading through – I’ll pick the most popular one (or one of the most popular) if it’s clear that there’s interest in doing it again.

My plan? My tentative plan is to give it another shot, starting in mid-November, with a reading every other day or every third day, but with the readings being a bit longer than before. I think this would fix some of the problems with the first edition of the book club.

Let me know what you think in the comments.