Thursday, August 18, 2016

Book Clubs Vary in Style

There are activities in my life that take me away from writing. One of them, however, feeds my writing soul. It's my monthly Book Club. There are seven women in the group who have known one another for many years. Two of the women were the movers and shakers that got the group started. The approached people they knew who were readers and whom they thought would enjoy discussing what they'd read. 

There are several ways to operate a group like this but ours works like this. We each take a month to choose a book from a large list from our state library. We ask a specific librarian at our local library to get 7 copies. We need to allow sufficient time for the request and delivery of the books. The person for September hands out the books at the August meeting, giving members a full month to read the book. 

The person who chooses the book also hosts the meeting at her home. We made a rule that there will be nothing served but coffee or water. We meet at 9:30 in the morning, so a second cup of coffee is welcomed. The hostess also leads the discussion. Usually, the leader researches the author and finds discussion questions and editorial reviews online. Amazon has summaries and editorial reviews, as well as reader reviews. Click the link to see an example. Scroll down the entire page to see all that is offered. I find it a good resource. You can use a search engine to find others.

We are a varied group in political and religious backgrounds so our discussions are filled with different opinions. We do respect one another's opinion, even though we might not agree with it. We all grew up in different parts of the USA. Our childhood experiences often come into our discussions. 

We meet all twelve months of the year. The second Tuesday morning of the month is a day I look forward to. The husband of one of our members served on the Pulitzer Prize committee for a number of years, so she often has interesting 'asides' about a book. As a writer, I think I have helped these readers also see a book through a writer's eyes. Everyone offers something different. 

There is no one and only way to conduct a book club. These are a few things to keep in mind:

1.  Decide if you are a Discussion group or a Book Review group (In a Book Review group, only one person reads the book, then reviews it for the others)

2. Make a few basic rules--we have only two:  nothing served but coffee or water and whatever is said in Book Club goes no farther. This last rule allows frank discussions. Each group should make their own rules.

3. Don't have too many people in the group. If it is too large, it is easy for some to sit and absorb but not offer anything to the discussion.

4. Decide how you will select the books to read. Everyone purchases a book in some groups. In others, a few people buy the book, then share with others. Some groups select a full year's worth at one meeting. Others. allow individuals to choose the book.

5. Keep in mind that the newest books will be harder to get through your library. 

6. Vary the types of books you read. Include fiction, nonfiction, biographies, memoirs. I have read many books in book club that I might never have picked up on my own. Even so, I have learned something and enjoyed reading them.

7. It only takes one or two people to begin a book club. They should decide on a desirable number of members and start asking people they know. This is strictly a friends kind of group. There are others that are made up of people who do not know one another. You'll find these groups through your library or local book store. There are even online book clubs of different types. They all operate in a different manner.

8. There are groups that meet mornings or afternoons or evening, ones that serve food and drink or nothing at all, some that have one leader every meeting and those who share the duty. 

9. Reading is the number one priority for these groups. 

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