This past week, 13 of the 16 Bookies gathered together for fun food, conversation, and a close up look at October Classic read, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. My full review of the book is here. As I had mentioned in an earlier post, I was curious about how a true crime would go over in this group. We had read an Anne Rule true crime many years ago when we were about 8 or 10 members at that time, but nothing since then.
Our discussion mainly centered around the time and the crime. We agreed that in the small community where the crime took place, you did not worry about your neighbors or what you said in public about what you owned. The results of In Cold Blood, changed this community, and many communities forever. I mentioned to the group that I had recently been speaking to a woman at a dinner I attended about our book club choice. She said at the time of the crime she was a young girl and her parents told her, “you never tell people about what we have in our house… you do not mention the safe, or anything.” The crimes of In Cold Blood, put fear in so many.
We also discussed how things randomly happen. If Richard Hickock and Perry Edward Smith had never met, never spoke with the gut who had worked on the Clutter home…. the crime, by circumstance would never have happened. We compared this, on a much lighter note to how we all wound up in book club together. Looking around the room, when book club started I knew only one of the thirteen girls in the room. We all met by circumstance, someone talked about book club and we agreed to go. If not for Bookies and our group talking about it… we would not all have been in that room together this week talking about this book.
I love things like that. :)
Overall, the book was rated mainly average which is actually a good rating for a classic. A few rated it higher, and a couple rated it lower. The overall thought was that most of us do not like to read true crime, but this one worked as it is written in such a fictional way. This was mainly because of the dialogue in the book compared to just straight facts about the crime.
Our food for the night… we themed a lot of foods from the times – Angie even made from a 1959 cook book a Purple Sea Urchin dish – little hot dogs poking out of a cabbage with Sterno in the middle to cook them! I made the cucumber sandwiches… I went with the theme of funeral food.
What makes this a good book club choice?
I think it is good for a book club to shake up genres. A true crime can bring out a different type of discussion, and while it is true crime, In Cold Blood is written in such a way it is not overly horrific, therefore making it a good book club pick – and it is a classic! In Cold Blood is one of the books i like to be able to say I have read due to its classic status and the fact that Truman Capote is an author you will want to read.
When planning food for a book such as this I loved the idea Angie had of making food from the era. She also brought (not pictured) old style potato chips and homemade dip with the Liptons onion soup mix, which apparently became popular in 1959.
While decorating for a true crime, or dressing up is hard to do – we did use a little crime scene tape that I had left over from the banned book window at the library.
For the groups that like to go a step further – In Cold Blood is a movie, as well as Capote (newer). Either of these movies could add to your discussion on book and or author.
This past Tuesday July 8th was our annual Queen event for 2014. It is always a wonderful time of Food, Fun, and Friends, and of course… off with the old Queens head and on with the new… sorry Angie ;)
The evening was gorgeous, and I was so caught with everyone’s conversation and everything that I forgot to take pics of the food!
We started our evening with a “photo shoot” of those of us who dressed for the event:
The speeches were awesome, poems, songs, bribing with candy…..
It was a wonderful night. In the end… we crowned a Queen:
Congratulations Queen Sharon… she was the “Susan Lucci” of our group… runner-up for years, but never Queen! :D
This is our 8th Queen Event. For more Queen Event pictures… see my past links here under Book Clubs.
It is the morning of our Bookies Coronation. SQUUUEEEEE!!! I bought the dress on Saturday, I wrote my speech last night, giggling and texting my friend like a school girl about “How’s it going are you done? Are you ready?” with her texting back just as excited “just finishing up, now picking out my dress”
It will be great :)
Last month at book club, we had our Annual Book Exchange. This practice started three years ago. Each Bookie is supposed to wrap up in plain brown paper ( we are trying to avoid people picking the *pretty packaging*) a book that they have read in the past year that was a great read. Obviously, not a Bookies Book Club pick.
We all randomly choose a book out of the pile and that will be the book we will each read and discuss in July (tonight) while we enjoy good food and conversation. It is a fun tradition:
I had missed Bookies last month as I was at camp but I still participated. I sent a book into the mix – the center picture above, Delicious by Ruth Reichl (LOVED that one!) and then the group picked a book out for me. So what did I have picked to read this past month?
I had Lethal by Sandra Brown. This was a good one for me as I have tried Sandra Brown before and could not get through it. She seems like an author I would enjoy, so this was a fun attempts again. I finished it last night…. I will review the book later but for now I would describe it as very similar to the book Labor Day…. but a heck of a lot steamier. ;)
I know right? As of today we are 6 days out from our annual Queen Event for book club. 6 DAYS!!!
If you are familiar with our book club “happenings” every July since… (hmmm…. I should know this) well, for many years, we dress up in formal wear and have a coronation for Bookies Queen of the year. It comes from the book Same Sweet Girls by Cassandra King. (Yes,worth the read!)
We usually grill, talk books, eat lots of tasty foods… and have a LOT OF FUN! The competition is all in fun. And the girls really get into their speeches…
and I think I mentioned delicious food…
Alright… now I am getting into this… maybe I will save more for Saturday snapshot. And I must prepare my speech…. I think I have an idea…
Book club people – do you do things above and beyond the books? IE. potlucks, dinners out, movies, road trips? I would love to know :)
Post 3000!!! Giveaway and Book Discussion – Does An Online Book Presence Replace Face to Face Book Discussions?
Well holy smokes! This is my 3,000 post. Is that not just crazy? Certainly a monumental post like this can not go by without some sort of hoopla…. you know how I like to celebrate! :)
This post actually falls into a spot I was planning to chat about on-line book relationships vs. face to face (ie. Book Clubs. reading groups, book studies…) and I am going to go ahead with it as I think it is a very worthy discussion for our friend, “Post 3000″.
Credit for the idea behind this post goes to Rita of My Home Of Books. She recently wrote a post about book clubs and within her post she asked the question
If you have a solid on line presence with a large network surrounding your book related topics, do you find it necessary to also be in a book club?
This is the question that started me thinking, as I love my online discussions about books but I also love love my face to face book club and I personally would not want to give either up. Them’s fightin’ words.
But… that’s me.
What started me thinking was if an online presence around books can replace that face to face feeling. I personally would hope that it would not need to, but as I have heard from many of you through the years, finding a face to face book group is not always easy to do.
If you are reading book blogs and reading books suggested, or have already read a book that is being discussed, do you then join in the discussion?
I think if you are participating in active commenting on bookish topics you are simulating a “book discussion” and if that is all that is available to you for numerous reasons -
- no book clubs available
- inability to join a group do to work, kids, family, commitments
- existing book club/group never seems to discuss the book
Then certainly – get your book on that way and YAY that you do! There are a smorgasbord of book sites out there for everyone’s tastes and many times you can find your favorite publishing houses on Twitter and FACEBOOK (by all means Friend them – they have great conversations and many times they have giveaways too!)
However…. (and this is where the discussion could get interesting ;) ) I personally feel that face to face book relationships can stimulate a deeper connection to people and to books. Let me explain:
While it can certainly be AWESOME to discuss a book on-line either gush worthy or “hated it!” It is hard to get the real emotion that went into the read to come out in an online discussion. Sure, I can say a book made me cry – but how does that replace sitting in a room together and hearing my voice crack when I say ” __________________’s break up with __________________ made my sob as though it was happening to me.”
Also, on-line it is hard to keep the conversation flowing at a rate that is satisfying to either party. Sure I (or anyone) can write a review and you can comment. Then at some point later I many read your comment and respond, and sometime later yet you may (or maybe you don’t) come back, see my response and then you comment again. It’s a bumpy conversation.
Obviously I love on-line book conversations or this post 3,000 (echo when you say it – its cool….. 3,000, 3,000, 3,000…) would not be happening. And I love visiting other blogger book sites and chatting books with them too. I also love face to face book encounters and would like to give suggestions of how you can make that happen or find a fit that works for you:
The one I love the most is join a book club. If you do not know of any, check your local library. They may either know book clubs in the area, or they may be offering them at the library (ours offers children, middle grade, family and adult book clubs). *In the event that you can not find a book club and your library does not know of any groups… start one.
Look for local author events (check book stores, library, newspaper, look on-line). Listening to an author can be a wonderful experience. I love to get to know the person behind the book. Grab a friend… go go go!!!
If there is a great read out and you and a couple of people you know have read it, invite them over to discuss it over drinks on the deck, or meet up at a coffee shop or restaurant. It does not have to be a “book club”, but even taking time to talk with others about a book you enjoyed is stimulating conversation.
Please – I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject.
Do you think that on-line book relationships can replace face to face ones?
Do you feel some can effectively do it all – discuss on-line books topics well and face to face encounters too? Should they?
Do you have other suggestions for finding face to face book discussions for people looking?
Is this just a crazy discussion and post #3,000 is a weak attempt to engage people in book chats? ;)
Please share your thoughts – I did mention a giveaway – Leave a relevant comment here on this post between now and Thursday June 26th and I will enter you into a giveaway for a $10 Barnes and Noble or Amazon gift card – winners choice. One entry per comment. If you “Tweet” about this giveaway and post and put the tweet link in a comment space I will give you two additional entries.
(just click the “Tweet” button at the bottom of the post.)
Small synopsis: Hawaii in the late 1800’s was a beautiful place but a potentially frightening one as well. With the outbreak of Leprosy everyone was on the look out for anyone who may have this contagious disease. When little Rachel “Aouli” Kalama found a sore on the back of her leg that would not heal. She is eventually taken away from her family to live in Kaulapapa, an are off the island of Moloka’i for those with Leprosy. Here is where Rachel lives her life.
In May of 2014, 15 of the Bookies Book Club showed up for a review of Moloka’i. We sampled Hawaiian culture foods and discussed this read of a time in Hawaii most of us were unfamiliar with.
Using the questions provided int he back of the book, we discussed Leprosy compared to the AIDS scare if the 80’s, and what that must have felt like at the time to those who were in fear for their lives and the lives of their families. As in Rachel’s case, being taken away from her family had to be devastating on both sides; and Rachel’s diagnosis put a huge label on her family and even though they did not have it themselves they were shunned by their community.
Rachel herself makes for a great protagonist. Learning at a young age that she was pretty much on her own, she has a strong will, but also a sensible one. While she may stretch the boarders, she does have a wonderful sense of right and wrong and it shows throughout the storyline.
The Bookies overall enjoyed the book. A few found it a bit drug out, certainly not a fast read at almost 400 pages, but filled with deep historical facts that made for a good read.
What makes this a good book club read?
Moloka’i does make a good book group discussion due to it’s historical nature. There is plenty to discuss around the subject of Leprosy and what we can compare that to today. The characters of this book and how they respond to Rachel is also discussion-worthy. Once you label a person, how does that change us?
The questions in the back of the book are great for the discussion. There is also a section in the back of more detailed facts behind the fiction that makes for interesting follow up. A group could bring items of Hawaiian culture or information off the websites marked in the back pages to add to this discussion.
The natural deepness of this read also makes you feel like you read something important. Deeper reads deepen your book discussions.
Recently I was reading an article written by the Huff Post called True Life: I am a Book Club Drop Out. I am always drawn to topics on this as I am actually floored by how many times I head that a book club fails. When I chat about our book club here on-line many of you share with me your desires to be part of a book club but can not find one, or you share a group that you were once in that just could not pull it together. Through the years the main reasons I have heard for book club fail are:
- Not committed to the read (the book is supposed to bring them together but they never read the book)
- No one wants to take the lead and drive the conversation
- The meetings become more of a social time and those that really want to talk about the book fade away
- Too structured, no snacks, no extras, no fun
- personality clashes, you can’t agree on how your time should be spent so the group implodes.
- People who do not read the book, had no intention of reading the book, and month after month have nothing to contribute to the discussion. (While one in your group may not be a deal breaker, a few of them could be) *this is taken from a Barnes and Noble Article called why book clubs fail
- Your book choices do not encourage discussion. If you do not strive to pick books that will create conversation beyond “ooh the protagonist was cute!” (not that that is wrong ;) ), your book club will become b-o-r-i-n-g fast.
- One person always chooses what is read so you never branch away from the one persons tastes.
- The group is just not interesting enough for people to fit it into their already busy schedules of work, kids, family, commitments…
- poor location – restaurants can become too loud to talk, home meetings require people willing to open up their home and have an environment that works for discussion
- Not valuing each others opinions on the books. You do not have to always agree, but you do need to respect each others thoughts.
Am I am expert on successful book clubs?
No. I am simply someone who had an idea for a book club and the right people came along to support it. I honestly believe it is our group as a whole that makes us successful. We have had the bumps in the road…we are probably at one time or another guilty of everything I listed above. The difference I believe, is that we adjusted and we moved on.
It was not always easy.
I remember one particularly heated book club meeting from many years ago. The book was My Sisters Keeper by Jodi Piccoult and the discussion became pretty hot at the end of the night about the decisions that were made in the book. We had just went through a growth spurt in our group and I was still learning how to juggle the dynamics of a growing book club. I remember leaving the meeting and calling one of my friends who was also in the book club but was unable to make it that night. “I think we may have just discussed the book that killed book club” I said to her, and I was worried that it was true.
Since then we have had similar discussions over a read where someone may get emotional but the cool thing is, we have learned to grow together and appreciate each others thoughts and opinions more. It’s actually a beautiful thing to watch a group discuss a book openly without fear of retaliation or disapproval and some our deep discussions are my favorite memories of book club.
So lets discuss what makes a book club THRIVE. I do have friends on-line and off who are in book clubs and when I hear how they do their groups, I am thrilled to see that they have a plan that can succeed. Here are some thoughts on successful book clubs:
- Have someone in charge of sending out email/Facebook communications to your group regarding the book, the time, the place… these reminders are great!
- If your group is on Facebook – create a group page. This way you can send out reminders as well as discuss bookish things. This is a great way to continue a discussion after a meeting and those that were unable to attend can chime in.
- Don’t make it a lot of work for people to attend. If you do food and drinks keep it simple and rotate the people who bring something. Don’t give “home work” unless it is optional. If you think it would be fun to dress the decade of the read, put it out there and those who wish to… do it. :)
- Someone needs to lead the discussion. This can be the same person every time, or it can switch off each time you meet up but someone needs to bring discussion questions or topics and direction to your meeting.
- Everyone should have a chance to suggest a book or a turn at choosing a book. However you make that happen. We vote each month on suggestions that members bring to the meeting, other groups rotate who hosts and decides. Whatever works for your group.
- Ask the hard questions. Books bring up topics that are sometimes hard to discuss… for our group, this has led to some of our best discussions. Bring up the questions, if no one shares, move on… but give people an opportunity to share something about how they feel about what they read.
- Do not be afraid to rabbit trail. Books can open up personal stories and that is good. Sometimes I love to just sit back and watch the conversation flow around the book. I have learned so much about those in group when they share how they connect with a book.
- Don’t go too long! A good discussion from start to finish is around the 1 1/2 to two-hour mark. Value people time and know that some may need to work in the morning or still do things when they get home. Our group is currently around that two hour mark and that includes time to eat and chat with each other.
- Pick a size that works for your group. (We learned this the hard way.) Agree as a group how many members you will grow to (if you decide to accept new members along the way). This eliminates awkward discussions when you accept one persons cousin into the group but three months later turn down a members sister due to your group becoming too big. If you settle on a number, everyone will know where you are at.
- Its fun to encourage the little extras – looking up author info, having an author SKYPE, eating foods that surround the books culture or foods that are in the book, dressing up, going to a movie that was based on a book you read, occasionally attending a bookish event together that is in the area.
- If you are the discussion leader, think of something extra to add to your discussion – perhaps pictures of the time period, or try a new recipe that was mentioned in the book, artifacts, culture….
One thing that seems to be true, as the article mentioned, we want to be social. We want to bring our friends and hobbies into the same space.
I would love your thoughts on this topic, please add your thoughts on hits and misses for book clubs. How do you feel a good book club sustains life?
This past Tuesday the Bookies gathered to discuss Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. This is a book that will be hard to discuss here without spoilers so I will keep this light. To see a review with more detail and a spoiler page, see my review of Me Before You here, and for another great review by our Queen (front and center in picture), see it at her blog By Book Or by Crook.
A brief synopsis of Me Before You: (Setting – London village) Louisa Clark has recently lost her day job and at 27, still living at home but trying to get moving on life – this is not cool. She applies for a temporary position at a nearby castle for a rich boy who is not wheelchair bound due to an accident. Extremely unqualified, Louisa is shocked when she is given the job. Will Trainer (ie. “Rich boy”) is a bitter 30 something. He once had the world at his finger tips; skiing with friends, trips to beaches and around the world… now confined to the limitations of movement and a chair.
Louisa (probably due to her lack of professional training for this type of work) will have none of Will’s attitude. At first she is careful and shy but soon finds she is dealing with a sort of spoiled whiny baby who’s toys have been taken away. By Louisa calling Will out on this, Will develops a respect for Louisa and a friendship slowly grows.
Louisa soon discovers why her job taking care of Will is temporary and this knowledge changes everything. Now Louisa’s drive is to show Will that this new world of wheelchairs and limited movements is worth living in – and she only has so much time to convince him.
The Bookies rated this one fairly high. We seen “5” ratings out of people who rarely if ever give 5’s. (We rate on a scale of 1 – 5, 5 being the best). A book such as this brought out (as I had hoped) some deep discussion. We discussed choices and when do family and friends have a right to step in, and if they do – how much is permissible… how much is too much.
We were surprised to learn that we have a girl in our group who has a relative that has a similar story of living a full vibrant life and then an accident causing her to become a quadriplegic. To actually hear about someone who has gone through this was interesting and brought the book even more fully in focus.
Of course… we had food and wine with our discussion :)
Why is this a great book for book clubs?
There is great discussion points within this book. Hard questions come to the surface that will make for a lively and passionate discussion on both sides. If you like books that can get a rise of emotion out of your group let me say this is a book that will do just that.
Books. There are great books out there. As readers, we are quite familiar with these books. Perhaps they are beautifully written and each word creates a full picture in your mind of the scene, the scents, the heat (or lack there of) in a room. They can create great emotions – from joy to pain; laughter to anger. (Come on, admit it – haven’t you ever thrown a book down on a table or across a room because of the emotion it evoked? No? Just me? Well… this is awkward…. :razz: )
My question I present today is what types of books lead to great book discussions? Not all great reads make for great discussion. I know personally from my own book club experiences, some are really hard to group review other than just opening the room up to discussion. No hot topic questions come to mind… no great emotion. The book may be perfectly fine, there’s just really not much to say. :shock:
I love books that stretch us. That make us think differently. They cause a difference in opinions within the group – love or hate the protagonist; lets talk about it. Hot topics of today and/or in the past… lets discuss.
SO I toss this question out to you. Many of us are in book clubs or book discussion groups.
When choosing a book that you think would be great to bring to the group to read, what do you look for within that book?
Do you look for something in the synopsis that you think will work great for a group discussion, or is that not a part of it?
When you select a book for a reading discussion have you already read it?
I am excited to hear what your group does. :)
In past years I posted my book club book review along with my book club thoughts in one post. Starting this year I will be posting my personal review of the book club books and my book clubs thoughts separately. Click here for my review of Reconstructing Amelia.
This past Tuesday the Bookies Book Club gathered to review our January book, Reconstructing Amelia. As anticipated, the book made for a wonderful discussion.
Reconstructing Amelia is about a 15-year-old girl who joins a coveted undercover group at her Private School called the Maggie’s. If you are tapped to be a Maggie, you do not say no. The book centers around coming of age issues such as; parent/child relationships, trust, friendships, sexuality, fitting in, bullying, social media and oddly… adults in high position roles who act in the most inappropriate ways. When Amelia dies early on in the book (not a spoiler, this is part of the books synopsis on the back cover), her mother is left to figure out the pieces as to what happened. Through a series of emails, texts, and Facebook posts, things start to come together to a shocking conclusion.
Reconstructing Amelia is a tangled weave of dishonesty and rabbit trails that cause you to think things one way… only to wonder (even in the end) if it was not something completely different. This sort of writing can be both exciting and frustrating as our book club discussed.
What discussion topics can Book Clubs pull from this read?
There is so much that makes for good group discussion here.
- Peer pressure…. how hard is it at 15 to say no? How important at this age is it to fit in?
- Social media… how much worse can social media make it for teens? Now when friends disagree it can be posted for everyone’s eyes.
- In a world where we know everyone’s business… how much is too much? Where do we as parents draw the line when it comes to internet, social media, texting, emails, dating….
- Bullying is such a huge topic right now. How can we protect our children – especially when they are at the age where they do not necessarily come to us with problems.
- Single parenting is common. How does a single parent juggle maintaining a job, a home, the bills, and relationships with their children?
- What about these clubs in schools like college? The ones that include hazing. Is it a right of passage? Is there reason for concern?
- How important is it to keep communication with your teen child? Do you have a limit to what you want to know? If you do not, do you give off the impression that you do?
The Bookies had a vibrant discussion over these topics, occasionally even talking over one another. Many of us had stories of our own kids being bullied. Social media is another fire conversation. For a group of women who grew up for the most part without Facebook and cell phones and instant pictures; we are concerned as to the “where does it go from here.” So little is considered taboo now, what does the next generation have going on?
Reconstructing Amelia scored well with the Bookies overall. On a scale of 1 -5 (5 the best), Amelia landed at a solid 4 rating out of the 17 of us who rated the book. Over all the bookies found the book to be hard to put down, it kept you guessing as to what actually happened all the way to the end.
Book clubs looking for a fairly quick read (the pages of texting and Facebook posts make for some quick chapters) with great discussion topics are encouraged to choose this book. Reconstructing Amelia will leave you with some questions, and either intentional by the author or not, most of the Bookies were not bothered by this unknowing.