When I meet someone––often at a party–– who loves the same books as I do, something magical happens. The connection is immediate, the synergy tangible. We can’t seem to stop talking about our favorite books. We find we have both traveled to another world, intimately known its inhabitants and we are keen to exchange notes. Invariably this person will tell me “If you liked this book you are going to absolutely love ….” and right away she has my attention. I pull out an old receipt from my purse or even a facial tissue, to jot down the name and I can hardly wait to lay my hands on it.
Most of my favorite books have been recommended to me by other book lovers. I trust their judgment over the babble of the internet and the critical reviews. All too often I’ve bought a book the whole world was raving about, only to find I could not go beyond the first two chapters. On the other hand I have rarely been disappointed in books recommended by friends, especially those who cherish the same books as I do. Mind you, I may not have loved the novel as much or agreed on certain aspects but I love learning something new seeing things from somebody else’s point of view. Good books are multi-layered and leave themselves open to interpretation. We judge a book from our own life experiences which is what makes book club discussions so interesting. You learn more about the person when they talk about books:they are unconsciously sharing themselves. Two readers can enter the same novel and experience their own corners of comfort or discomfort and come away with completely different understandings. Appreciating and sharing these differences is what enlarges us.
This section is all about book clubs: where to find one (The Readers Circle is a good place to start), how to start one (here is advice from OPRAH)and how to keep the members coming back. Why are some book clubs more successful than others? Book Clubs need strong guidelines, committed members and a firm but gentle moderator otherwise discussions can get lost in social chatter. They can’t be run like a boot camp either, because that takes the fun out of it. After all a Book Club is a social activity, but with a purpose. In other words there is a fine balance.
TEATIME FOR THE FIREFLY: Book Club Questions
I love meeting my readers! If my book has been selected by your Book Club, you can schedule an Author Visit via my CONTACT FORM. Thanks!
I love getting book recommendations from friends, and agree with you that they are usually the books that I enjoy the most – but, I have to admit, I loath book groups! I have tried a few over the years, but I find that as soon as I ‘have to’ read a book by a deadline, it starts to feel just like school and I want to read anything but that book.
Also, the groups that I have tried have always been held in people’s houses, and maybe it was the areas that we lived in then, but those houses always seemed so perfect, so beautiful, so tidy, etc that I dreaded ever having to host a meeting in mine!
I’m sure there are lots of good groups out there, but I’m not sure that I’m the right person to join one. I do ‘belong’ to an on-line group – most of the other members are in the US and are retired, they are all really erudite women – college lecturers, teachers, librarians – and I really enjoy our discussions – we have separate areas for talking about what we are reading, or have seen reviews of, and for focused group reads, which I occasionally participate in. Someone on the site even runs Latin lessons! It’s a very active and well run site.
Oh Rosemary, I am so there with you! I know exactly what you mean. The pressure to read does take the joy out of a book and I don’t like book clubs held in people’s houses either. I don’t hang out with “the ladies who lunch” : they can be a vacuous lot full of social one-upmanship. But a good book club discussion (and I have had a few) can be scintillating and add a richer understanding to the novel. You must tell me more about the online group you belong to. It sounds most interesting.
I began a very small book club with colleagues (high school teachers) and while I love to get together with the ladies, it is more of a time to catch up with one another and our families. We don’t discuss the book as thoroughly as I’d like. How does one go about selecting an online book club?
I have been invited to many, many, many books clubs and they are all different. Some are very chitchatty and social like you describe, others are overly analytical and often dry as toast. I am not so sure an online book club really works…it’s the dynamics between the members and good leadership that make good book clubs– unless of course you are Oprah! Have you tried checking into Meet Up groups around your area? https://www.meetup.com. That may be a good place to start. If you do join a book club and select Teatime for the Firefly, do let me now. I will be happy to Skype in or do a Q&A via speakerphone. It’s a lot of fun. Best wishes to you for the New Year. Shona