Monday, May 03, 2010

Blogmania Winner/ Book Clubs

BLOGMANIA is over for spring, but Lynda Coker is busily arranging an even greater event for September with even nicer prizes. In the meantime, I'll be awarding prizes occasionally from this blog all through summer and fall, so please visit frequently or follow me. The winner for my BLOGMANIA prize is  I'll email her today and ask for her address so I can mail her prize package. She has 72 hours to answer or I'll have to choose someone else.

And now for my blog on book clubs. I'm a member of a local book club, Book Divas. Our members are all lovely people with whom I enjoy visiting. That's why we spend part of the meeting talking and the other part discussing the book. It's sort of a book club/group therapy session. :)  Our book for May is THE GIRL ON LEGARE STREET by Karen White. This is a sequal to THE HOUSE ON TRADD STREET.that we each read and loved earlier in the year.

Book Divas is so pleasant that I hadn't thought much about book club etiquette until my daughter, Darling 2, joined a book club that meets near her home. She absolutely loved it. The members did basically the same thing as in Book Divas. Then (dark, scary music playing here) a new member joined and brought a friend. This new member did not want anyone to mention personal details, only discuss the book. She was a pedantic book Nazi who ruined the spirit of the book club for my daughter. This could have been avoided if the club had a few rules in place.

If you are setting up a book club--and if you're not in one now, I urge you to form one--here are some things you need to discuss and/or set as rules:

1. What is your goal? Do you want this to be a formal, academic book discussion ONLY? If so, mention that at the beginning. If you plan an informal, fun group where the book is only a part of the meeting, state so initially.

2. What type books will you read? Literary, popular fiction, mysteries only, women's fiction, romance? Book Divas read a variety.

3. Where will you meet? We began meeting in member's homes, but that proved onerous. Some hostesses served a full meal and others only a snack. Members didn't know whether to eat before they came or not. Now we meet in a local restaurant so no one has to do extra house cleaning or prepare refreshments.

4. How will you choose books? In ours, the "hostess" for each month chooses the book and where we'll eat. There are online sites that specialize in book club book suggestions, and you might want to investigate these sites. One is Book Movement.

5.What if a member doesn't read the book for that month? Some book clubs levy a fine. Ours doesn't. We urge people to attend even if they haven't finished the book. After all, part of our meeting is fellowship and we enjoy one another's company.

6. Perhaps you'd rather have a book review group. One member could read the book and give a review of it followed by discussion. Or, everyone could read the book and one person formally review it.

7. Be a good sport. The thing that must be avoided is bickering or personal criticism. If I choose a book someone else in book Divas doesn't like, there are no hard feelings. (As far as I know.) One of our members always chooses sad books. I like books with happy endings. I still read the book she chooses. Some of our group like one type of book, some another. We all enjoy mysteries. We strive for a happy medium--a little of everything through the year.

8. How many people will you have in your group? We chose to have twelve. This is a nice number for a discussion, and that means each of us can be hostess only once during the year.

9. Who will send out reminders of the meetings? Who'll alert the restaurant as to how many will be dining?

Book clubs are very enjoyable. I've read many books I would never have read if they hadn't been book club selections. Some of those have become favorites I would have missed without Book Divas. Plus, these are mostly women I hadn't known before book club, yet they have become treasured friends.

Is a book club right for you?


Michelle Stockard Miller said...

Woo hoo Caroline! Thank you so much! I'm going to check my email now.

Also, thanks for posting about book clubs. I've been wanting to start one for years, but I never thought about meeting at a local restaurant. That's a great idea! I'm going to refer back to your tips when I finally put my plan in motion. I do have an online bookchat on Twitter called #TuesBookTalk. We meet every Tuesday night on Twitter at 11pm ET. Right now, we've been reading The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters. We read a couple of chapters at a time and discuss for an hour weekly. It's fun!

Thanks again for my win and I look forward to reading more on your blog.


Stephanie Suesan Smith, Ph.D. said...

While it is nice to hold a book club at a place other than a home, remember that some people's finances make expensive books and expensive places to meet hard. One book club here meets at the YMCA, which charges $5 to come in the building even if you are just going to the book club. I do not attend for that reason.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Michelle and Stephanie, thanks for your comments.

When we first began, we met at the founder's home, which was free. then we began meeting in one another's homes. If we had set a limit on food, it would have been helpful. We should have said only light refreshments. One of our members is a former caterer, and we loved meeting at her home!
Thansk for your commetns.