Yup! I am so excited. I am able to bring this feature back as I had a couple more people come forward who wanted to share about their Book Clubs. Thank you! Thank you! I love hearing about all the different clubs out there and how they do their book meetings!
This morning I introduce to you Sondra and her book club The Pillars!
Hi Sondra! I am super excited to have you at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books today! Is there a link that will take us to your book club?
I love the layout of that page! I wish I could do something like that for our book club. How long has your group been meeting?
Sondra: Since November 2008
How often do you meet?
Quarterly? Now I am really interested to know about that! When you do meet, do you have someone who leads the discussion?
Sondra: Each quarter we have a different person as the hostess and they lead the discussions.
Where do you meet?
Sondra: The hostess of the quarter decides on the location. We usually travel to different locations and make the meeting a weekend retreat centered around the book.
Ok! There it is. I am joining your group! How fun! Now I understand why you meet quarterly! A whole event around the book. That sounds so amazing! How many of you are in this book group?
Sondra: 15 Women
What is the age group represented in your book club?
Sondra: 23 to 60
Do you have any certain genres you read?
Sondra: We read a combination of genres.
That’s what we do too… books all over the board! How do you choose what you will read?
Sondra: Members bring book ideas to the meetings and we vote after reviewing a summary of the books.
I probably don’t even have to ask this next questions as your group sounds fantastic! How do you keep things fun?
Sondra: We center our meetings around the book. Eat the foods mentioned in the book, travel to the places in the book,
and play jeopardy (with prizes!) to challenge the readers about the book.
Ahhhh! You travel to places in the book! I bet that makes choosing your next read even more incredible. Does your group meet for anything else other than your book meetings?
Sondra: We meet quarterly for community service events.
Do you have a funny or “book club meeting gone bad” story to share?
Sondra: Yes, we had a boring history book that most of the members had a very hard time reading prior to the meeting. None of the members let on that they hadn’t completed the book until discussion time came around and they were not able to answer the questions.
Sondra, What advice would you give to other book clubs?
Sondra: Have fun and be open to all genres!
Sondra, thank you so much for sharing about your amazing book club today! I appreciate you opening this group up to us to read about! Yo sound like a wonderful group and I bet you have traveled to some amazing places!
*** Readers – the first Picture of The Pillars was taken at a cabin in Burnett, TX, where they held their initial book discussion. They spent the weekend getting to know each other. They planned activities around the book selection of the quarter and discussed the future of the book club.
The second picture was taken at their meeting in New Orleans, LA during their book discussion weekend for “Cane River“. They visited all the sites listed in the book that we could find starting in Natchitoches, LA, home of the Cane River Plantation, down to New Orleans, LA..
If you are part of a book club (on line or off) I would love to chat with you and feature you in this Wednesday spot. If you are interested, please email me at journey through books @ gmail.com
Today I am featuring my own book club, The Bookies of Brainerd, Minnesota. I am doing this because as of current, I have interviewed everyone who has expressed an interest in this Wednesday Feature spot. Many of you have emailed me or left comments on the Book Club feature spot telling me how much you enjoy it. Thank you for that – it has been fun doing it. However, if readers who are in book clubs (offline or on) do not let me know they would be interested in being reviewed for this spot, this will be the final Book Club feature until there are book clubs to interview.
Today – please welcome a book club I personally adore: The Bookies!!!!!
How long have we been meeting? Our first meeting was August of 2001, so 8+ years. December of this year will be our 100th meeting.
How often do we meet? We meet monthly on the 2nd Tuesday of each month.
Where do we meet? It changes month to month. Each member has a month to choose where we meet. We have met at restaurants, homes, coffee shops. We try to keep it fun. Last month we were at a members home in her backyard and we grilled and had a bonfire. I love that we do this stuff!
How many members do we have?Currently if everyone made it, we have 18. We never all make it though so a usual meeting is around 12 to 14.
What age group do we represent? That’s a tough one as I am not good at guessing ages…. I would say we have mid 20’s to maybe 65? We are all women although it was never a criteria… just happened that way. Some of the husbands we refer to as “behind the scenes Bookies” as they read many of the club books as well but do not attend the meetings.
What genres of books do we read?We are all over the board. Women’s literature, fiction, the occasional non fiction, Classics, historical fiction, mysteries…
How do we choose what we will read? Each month after our review we have a time where each member can nominate a book. We limit it now to one book per member as it is easy to want to recommend 2 or 3 and the list of choices gets too long. Most months we ask that the book is fairly new so we can find enough copies for all of us. It also needs to be in paperback/over sized paperback format to keep our cost down. Each member recommends the book they choose and a bit about the book. When all nominations are in, we go around the room and we each get two votes. Highest number of votes wins. In the event of a tie, the Queen chooses – but that’s another story. In October we always do a Classic, December we try to keep it Christmas related, February is a romance and July is free read month where we meet and potluck.
What was one of the best discussions and/or a favorite book we read as a group? Oh there are so many! One that comes to mind is last years read of Philippa Gregory’s The Other Boleyn Girl. I think that is the first time we almost all gave it our highest rating…. we loved it. I asked everyone to trace back to some of their ancestors for this review and we had a lot of fun with that!
Another review, more recent was Meg Waite Clayton, The Wednesday Sisters. While the book over all rated an average read – the discussion that came out of it was fantastic.
How do we keep things fun?We sometimes have potlucks at homes centered around the book theme. Last September we read Wicked and everyone brought something to my house for the potluck that was green. I had made green egg salad sandwiches (with food coloring), we had green almond bark, green soup, green chips and dips, apple martinis, and more. In another book we celebrated a birthday of a character by actually having a birthday cake with her name on it.
Of course there is always the July Queen event where we all dress up in formal gowns and have speeches to be the Queen of Bookies. The nominated Queen reigns for one year, receives the royal throne, crown and scepter. She breaks all ties in voting and chooses where we meet in the event the member who is suppose to choose is absent.
Have we done anything outside of our monthly meetings? We have attended a few movies through the years of books we have read. We once had a movie showing at my house of a book we had read. Some of the girls this last December went to see the play Wicked in Minneapolis. I wanted to go so bad but I was in a wedding on that same day. A few of us have also attended an authors tea.
What advice would we give to other book clubs?Don’t give up and keep it lite and fun. We started 8 years ago with 3 members. It took a while to grow. We keep things light, we discuss the book, we theme the book…. in the future we have discussed having a favorite fiction character party. Just do what you love… read books and hang out with friends! I have met some great people through our group.
If yo are in a book club and would like this feature spot, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I will then send you interview questions and request a picture or two of your group. You send back the questions and I will give you a date as to which Wednesday you will be featured. If you have a blog, I will link it your review.
I am excited to bring you a new book club today! I have been hanging out at this blog for a while now chatting with Maryrose and today I am pleased to be able to share with you about her online book club, My Book Buddies.
Welcome Maryrose! Sit! Have some coffee! It is so wonderful to have you here today! Share with us the name of your book club.
Maryrose: My Book Buddies
How long have you been meeting?
Maryrose: We are an online community, first created in July 2001. We started off exchanging e-mails between girlfriends (we were discussing Jane Eyre). We found it much easier to discuss books in an online forum.
Oh that sounds fun! I have not been a part of an online book club yet. How often do you meet?
We meet daily! Our online forum discusses books every day. We do, however, have a monthly selection for the group to read and share their thoughts on. Every effort is made to read a book within the selected month. The beauty of the online forum is that every discussion is saved. Book discussions are revived at anytime!5. Do you have someone who leads the discussion (same person each month or different)? Our discussions are very open in nature. If available, we use Reading Group Guides to help facilitate conversations. But it’s treated more like a guideline than a rule. We don’t want reading to start feeling like homework. Most of our discussions are driven by emotion, rather than dissection and analysis.
Our group is made up primarily of women. We have 50 members who drop in from time to time, and a core group of half a dozen regulars.
50! That’s wonderful! What age groups are represented in your book club?
Our age demographic ranges between the mid-20s to early 40s.
What genres of books do you read?
Because we’re on the world wide web, we have great diversity in our book selection. The monthly
selections range from the classics, historical fiction, romance, “chick lit”, biographies, literary fiction and fantasy.
How do you choose what you will read?
To promote the diversity of the group, we alternate who chooses the monthly selection. I like to select my books from my “to read list”.
What was one of the best discussions and/or a favorite book that you read as a group?
The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon is a particular favorite of the group. In fact, we’ve seen a revival of those discussions in recent months. Members, new and old, love to discuss (and re-read) the series.
How do you keep things fun?
We’re a great group that has stuck together for a long time. The forum has become an online home for us. So, we like to discuss things outside of books. We’ll discuss movies, television, gossip, home, garden, cooking – whatever tickles our fancy. We don’t have a strict regiment that we must adhere to. Everything is for your enjoyment. In more recent years, we’ve started traveling out to meet one another. That’s been a very special treat
I really like that! What have you done as a group other than the online book discussions?
One of my absolute favorite things about the online book club is that I now have friends across the nation. We’ve traveled to Atlanta to visit Gone with the Wind country. I’ve had members visit me in the San Francisco Bay Area. Right now, we’re trying to find a way to see Diana Gabaldon in Georgia this coming Labor Day. The activities outside of books have solidified friendships in our community.
What advice would you give to other book clubs?
With busy schedules and the cost of books on the rise, it can be difficult to keep a book club going. Have an easy going attitude about your book club. Members will come and go – but they tend to come back. My Book Buddies has had lulls, but we know that things will bounce back.
Thank you Maryrose so much for sharing about your online book club! You have really inspired me as this is something I have tossed around the idea of for some time but still am wondering if it is something I want to do! Since I interviewed you a couple weeks ago I am curious – did you make it to Diane’s for Labor Day?
If you are interested in having your book club featured here please email me at email@example.com
Week four and I have another book club to feature today. Elizabeth and I have communicated a couple weeks ago about this feature and now her turn has come up! Please give a warm welcome to Elizabeth and her book club, RachelMomNana.
Sheila: Thank you so much for joining me today! I love your book club name, RAchelMOmNAna.
Elizabeth: This is named after Ramona, RAchelMOmNAna.
Sheila: How long have you been meeting?
Elizabeth: about a year, since Rachel was reading chapter books herself
Sheila: How often do you meet?
Elizabeth: We try to meet every month or so
Sheila: Do you have someone who leads the discussion?
Elizabeth: We ask Rachel to lead it sometimes, to come up with questions but mostly we just chat about what we liked and didn’t like about the book.
Sheila: Where do you meet?
Elizabeth: back and forth at our two houses when it is convenient.
Sheila: So your book club is just the three of you right?
Elizabeth: Yes, just the three ladies
Sheila: What age groups are represented in your book club?
Elizabeth: 9, 42, 64
Sheila: What genres of books do you read?
Elizabeth: childrens or classic
Sheila: How do you choose what you will read?
Elizabeth: We each take turns making the suggestions. We look for versions of books that we can all read. The first book we did was Heidi, because we had an abridged version that Rachel could read, I loved it as a child, and Nana had never read it.
After that, we each suggested a book that we thought the others would like or should read.
Sometimes we each read a different version of the book, like a graphic novel of Treasure Island, or the children’s version of Anne of Green Gables.
When Rachel picks the book, we just read her book.
Sheila: What was one of the best discussions and/or a favorite book that you read as a group?
Elizabeth: Rachel made up questions in her Book Club Scribbler for us to answer for Owls in the Family that were imaginative and insightful.
The book we all loved the most was Tale of Despereaux by Kate diCamillio, but also, Anne is a perennial favorite, as we live on Prince Edward Island.
Sheila: How do you keep things fun?
Elizabeth: It’s always fun when the three of us get together!
We try to decorate the table and serve snacks that match the book. For example, we had cheese, drank ‘tea’ from a child’s tea set and put toy mouses on the table when we discussed Tale of Despereaux; chocolate and cheese and Toblerone bars when we met about Heidi.
Sheila: Does your group meet for anything else other than your book meetings?
Elizabeth: We watched the movie Because of Winn-Dixie after discussing that book, our first repeat author, Kate deCamillio.
Sheila: What advice would you give to other book clubs?
Elizabeth: Inter-generational family book clubs are a lot of fun, and introduce the idea of literary discussions at a young age. My daughter loves that we will read a book that she likes and recommends, even if we weren’t that fond of Geronimo Stilton.
Thank you so much for sharing your book club with us! I love that you are a family of readers and I think Rachel is a very lucky girl! readers, please take a moment to check out Elizabeth’s Bog at An Adventure In Reading.
Interested in having your book club featured here? Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Week three and I have a new book club to feature today. I have been talking with Christie at her blog Read Em’ and Eat. I would like you all to warmly welcome Christie and her Book Club.
S: Good morning Christie! I am settled here now with coffee cup in hand. I am so excited to hear more about your book club! Lets start with the name of your book club.
Christie: My book club actually voted on a name three or four years back, but no one can seem to remember what it is- so it couldn’t have been very good. *g*
S: That’s kind of funny! I remember we did that in my book club as well before we found one that stuck! Tell me a little about your group.
Christie: My book club formed in 1998 and we’ve been going strong ever since. We’ve had a few face changes, but we’ve also had many long-time members. Our general rule of thumb is that we like to keep the number at around 10, but if you leave book club, the door is always open for you to return. I do the schedule for the year and try to give about 5 weeks between meetings. We always meet on a Tuesday night beginning at 7:30 – that’s never changed. Currently we have 10 women in the group…with one member on hiatus, for a total of 11. We range in age from 40-late 50s.
S: How do you choose the books you read?
Christie: The format for our book club seems to work really well for us. Each member gets one book pick per year. They reveal their book at the previous meeting…so for example the book we are reading for September was revealed at our last meeting of the year, which took place in early July. The reveal is a BIG deal and everyone loves to see what we’ll be reading next. I know that some clubs throw all sorts of choices into a hat and choose at random…and some make all their reading decisions at the start of each year, but we’ve found this method works really well for us. Part of the reveal is the explanation of how that book came to be your pick and what other choices didn’t make the cut. It’s fun to hear about what other books were considered. Sometimes there is a squeal of delight when the book is pulled out of the bag (like with The Time Traveler’s Wife) and sometimes there is a gasp of dismay (like with The Elegance of the Hedgehog – it was my sigh, I admit, as I’d tried to read the book previously for another book group I lead and I just *couldn’t* do it…but I *have* to finish for this book club!)
S: Who leads your discussions?
Christie: The person who reveals hosts the meeting at their home and leads the discussion. They can lead the discussion in any way that works for them…but the best discussions are always those where the hostess has prepared and keeps us focused. Not an easy task!
S: Any special meetings?
Christie: The only time we’re not in the revealer’s (I know, that’s not a word!) home is the Christmas meeting- we generally eat out. The Christmas meeting is a coveted spot – everyone wants that meeting because there’s no work involved. We try to give it to someone who could really benefit; this year it’s going to a woman who’s starting a new job and will be extremely busy at that time of year. The Christmas meeting is also our gift exchange. We each bring a wrapped gift (and the wrapping is gift enough!) and everyone chooses a gift. We don’t Yankee swap, though.
S: Do you ever get together for any other reasons than the book club meeting?
Christie: We’re not a group that generally does things together outside of book club, although several of us did go away for a weekend a few years ago and we’ve got another weekend away planned to mark our 10th anniversary- which we didn’t actually celebrate. We do go to movies and readings when we can, but we’re all busy.
S: I love that the Christmas meeting is a coveted spot! That is so fun! I like that you each take a turn hosting.
Christie: Hosting just once a year makes it less onerous for everyone because, truthfully, the book is only one part of the book club experience for this group. We also LOVE to eat and we seem to be blessed with book club members who love to cook so even though the food is meant to be nibblies…sometimes the hostess gets a little carried away and we have three course meals! (It’s ridiculous, of course, but no one complains too much!)
S: Any rules that go along with choosing a book?
Christie: The only rule about the book we choose is that we can’t have already read the book- this encourages everyone to do a little research and it also makes for less hurt feelings. (Imagine if you chose your favorite book of all time and everyone in the group hated it!) We also generally steer away from non-fiction (although we have read a couple memoirs) and hard covers (although we’ve done a few of those, too). I would say we read literary fiction for the most part…and have hardly ever (if ever) read genre fiction.
The person who picks has to make sure the book is available and that used to be more of a problem before online stores like Amazon and Chapters. Until last year we didn’t even have a big bookstore in town. That said, the University book store was always willing to order books for us. A little planning does make a difference though. I waited too long to make my selection this year and so I chose a book (At A Loss For Words) partly because there were enough copies available at the store and it was terrible! (So terrible, in fact, that I won the coveted “Book I Enjoyed Reading Least” prize this year…particularly devastating because I won “Book I Enjoyed Reading Most” last year for Fingersmith.)
S: Any “book club gone bad” stories or funny happenings?
Christie: We’re a feisty group- no question – and we’ve had some terrific discussions. For example, despite the fact that my book stunk this year, it did bring up all sorts of questions about love and whether or not it was possible to fall in love with someone a second time around. We had quite a frank discussion about sex that night, too. We had a huge shouting match over the book The Attack – hurt feelings around the table. We’ve had a couple books that no one but the host read (The Known World springs to mind). It’s always interesting when the group is oddly divided about a book. For example, everyone in the group LOVEDThe DaVinci Code and Eat, Pray, Love…except for me and one other member. When a book is universally loved (or hated) it’s more challenging to have a balanced discussion- although it’s certainly possible. When we’re reading a book no one likes we exchange sly comments when we meet each other out and about…although we don’t say anything outright. (The rule is that we’re not allowed to talk about the book before we meet. *g*)
S: How do you keep things fun and exciting for the group?
Christie: I don’t know how we’ve managed to keep things lively all these years. Perhaps it’s the wine! It might be that we’re not all best friends (although some of us are); we’re certainly close. I think we’ve tweaked ourselves here and there over the years. We went through a period where we didn’t get around to talking about the book until it was almost time to go home. I didn’t like that, though, so I sort of enforced the rule that social hour could commence only after everyone had said everything they wanted to about the book. (This usually coincides with dessert!) That works better. The hardest thing is to make sure that everyone has an opportunity to say what they want to say and avoid repetition. It’s hard with a bigger group and we’ve found that a question asked and then sent around the table doesn’t work as well as each person getting their very own question to answer and then allowing time for others to weigh in if they have something to add. Still there’s lots of talking over one another and shouting and laughter. Some meetings are better than others…but, that said, I enjoy them all.
S: Any advice for other book clubs out there or for those who would like to start one?
Christie: Every book club has to find what works best for them. Chemistry is important, I think. We have some strong personalities in our group, but that’s okay. I think it’s good to share the responsibility for choosing the book and hosting so the onus doesn’t fall on one person every time. (One of the women who joined our group a few years after we’d started was in a group but she hosted every single meeting. Yuck. I just think that’s too much to ask of anyone.) I think everyone has to be on the same page about how the group is going to work. The ladies in my group call me Madam President, not because I am, just because I do the housekeeping stuff. Oh, who am I kidding: I’m the boss and they all know it!
S: Christie this was so fun chatting with you about one of my way favorite topics and probably yours too, books! Thank you so much for taking the time to come over to One Persons Journey Through a World of Books and share your book club with us.
Readers – I encourage you to stop over to Read Em’ and Eat and say hi to Christie and browse her wonderful blog.
If you are interested in having your book club featured in my Wednesday Features on Book Clubs, please email me at email@example.com
Also… please take a look at the book clubs I have featured in the past weeks:
How long have you been meeting? Since November 2007
How often do you meet?Daily, on-line
Do you have someone who leads the discussion?I start the discussions, but our members quite often take the lead, offering up topics for discussion and continuing the conversations.
Where do you meet?On-line, on The Women’s Nest, it’s a social community for women only.
How many members do you have? We are all women, and our readership varies. We have over 2000 members, but have a handful reading at any given time.
What age group(s) is represented in your book club?19 – about 60
What genres of books do you read? We read most literary fiction books.
How do you choose what you will read?I read book reviews and gather suggestions from our Book Club members.
What was one of the best discussions and/or a favorite book that you read as a group?We read Snowflower and The Secret Fan, by Lisa See – by far one of my favorite books.
How do you keep things fun? We have authors as guests and they discuss their books with us when they are selected in the Book Club.
Does your group meet for anything else other than your book meetings? Yes! We meet for author discussions as well as daily for general sharing of information and escaping the chaos of our daily lives. We converse on our forums about everything from books and movies to relationships, careers, jokes, and daily life issues. We’re more than a book club, we have all become very good friends, too.
Do you have a funny or “book club meeting gone bad” story to share?Well, I’m not sure if it’s a funny one, but I have had to cancel an author discussion or two because of low readership. But that’s not fun to do, after all, authors are very busy and gracious to give their time.
What advice would you give to other book clubs? Book Clubs are hard to keep up, in many cases, and I believe that whether you have one reader or 20 during any given month, keep going! The readers will come back, new ones will come, and like everything in life, it will ebb and flow.
I have heard that you are an author as well? Yes, I am also a new author – My debut novel, Megan’s Way, can be found on Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com.
Wow! You sound like an amazing group. I have never been a part of a book club on line but have thought about it. Thank you so much Melissa for sharing about your book club. Readers, I highly encourage you to stop by and see Melissa at The Women’s Nest!
I am excited to start a new feature this week! Each Wednesday I will review a Book Club. This week I welcome Mari from Bookworm with a View
Please everyone welcome Mari!
What is the name of your Book Club: My answers will focus on the Omaha Bookworm’s but I also manage the Manic Mommies Book Club (an online book club).
How long have you been meeting?We are celebrating seven years in October.
How often do you meet?Monthly
Do you have someone who leads the discussion?I tend to get them started
Where do you meet?Over the years we have met at restaurants and in homes, attending author events and in July we attended a play production written by one of the Omaha Bookworm’s. Several of us have small children and to avoid disrupting their routine we tend to rotate between 4-5 homes.
How many members do you have?We and have about 15 members with 8-10 attending most months. When we have an author interview… watch out! A few months ago members brought friends – we have three author interviews schedule for the rest of 2009.
What age group(s) is represented in your book club?25+. Our book club began as a sub group of a women’s social club in Omaha. We did not know each other when our group began so you can imagine how eclectic our group is, this is one of our best assets. I’m close friends with a few women whose paths would not have crossed if not for our common interest in books. We are no longer affiliated with the social organization, one of the restrictions was that no one had to RSVP (which can cause a challenge for the hostess).
What genres of books do you read?We read one memoir, classic and historical fiction/non-fiction a year. All other books are based on reader recommendation. We tend to enjoy learning while reading so we do read quite a few historical/event/cultural fiction books each year.
How do you choose what you will read?We have a few criteria: try to keep the book under 500 pages and someone must pre-read the book to make sure its ‘discussion worthy’. Several years ago we were meeting at a local coffee shop to discuss a book (a really good, top selling novel) and I was the only one who attended and the only one to read the book. This ‘experience’ redefined our book group. It was a low moment for us…
What was one of the best discussions and/or a favorite book that you read as a group?The Birth House by Amy McKay is one of our recent favorites (women love to talk about childbirth). Eating Heaven by Jennie Shortridge is also a ‘discussion worthy’ book. I have a list of Book Club Must Reads listed on the website (if you are looking for some ideas).
How do you keep things fun?We are FUN! J
Does your group meet for anything else other than your book meetings? (IE. author meetings, movies that were books you read…) Several of us meet for lunch, golf, movies etc outside of book club but we do not all tend to get together (outside our monthly book discussions)
Do you have a funny or “book club meeting gone bad” story to share?Well, in addition to the “no one showed up” mention a few years ago… earlier this year my 40 pound dog ate an entire cake and some other food on the coffee table while we were refreshing our wine before an author interview.
What advice would you give to other book clubs?Change it up! We try not to stick to a strict format, selecting an author interview every other month so we can relax and read a lighter book on the ‘off’ month. We have had themed evenings too, when we red The Diplomat’s Wife the hostess served Italian recipes cited from the book.
Later this month we are hosting our first “Skype to Skype” call. In addition to discussing the book with the author we have 5 women (and a book club in Colorado) across the country calling in to discuss with us. I’m very excited to see how this works. If successful, I will open this up to all for future author discussions.
Ok… LOVE LOVE LOVE the “dog ate the cake” story! That is a fun memory (probably not at the time…) I also am interested in the Skype to Skype call. I have never done that and not sure how it works but it sounds wonderful.
Thank you Mari for a great interview. Your book club sounds amazing and lots of fun! I am going to check out the books you recommended as well as your Book Club Must Reads.