Dear Blake,

I have worked for the same company for 20 years. For the last eight years, I was part of an office book club, mostly because I was pressured regularly by the boss to participate. The members were mostly a clique of “mean girls.” I never felt a part of it or comfortable, but I pushed through the once-a-month meetings to keep the peace. When COVID sent everyone home to work the past two years, the book club was over, or so I thought, hoped and prayed. As things are loosening up now, though, the pressure is mounting again. I do not want to return to that routine, but the powers that be don’t seem to accept any excuse or reason. After 24 months of freedom, forcing me back into it is causing great anxiety. What would you advise me to say or do to be left out of this without antagonizing the boss?

Signed, Katy
From Cicero, Illinois

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Dear Katy,

It’s not right that you are manipulated/bullied into being in a book club. So I think it would be best if you gave them a compelling reason to throw you out, and hopefully even avoiding eye contact while you’re in the office. Here are some ideas. During the next meeting, demand that the books should be read aloud in front of everyone, and you learned a new language preferring to read in Klingon. Or, give every book you read a horrible review, to the point that other members of the group have to take medication in order to deal with the negativity/depression that you thrust upon them during one of your lengthy rants. Or this idea, Suggest that everyone reads exclusively children’s books, and if they refuse, throw a tantrum, roll on the floor kicking and screaming, and refuse to stop until your “mommy” comes and takes you home. And lastly, regularly suggest books regarding unsolved perfect murders, and then lastly ask every co-worker in the group to give you their addresses, their driving routes, and any messages they want forwarded to their next of kin. I hope this helps.