DEAR ABBY: 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?

— WANNA-BE-DROPOUT