Wednesday Wing….Book Clubs. Love ’em? Hate ’em? What works? What doesn’t? #wwwblogs

Following on from last week’s fantastic discussion on book series, this week I want to throw the doors open to a discussion about book clubs.

Rosie's Notebook

I know very little about book clubs, I’ve always steered clear of them, preferring to read my own choice of books, I have a few friends who have dabbled. However they are a way to link readers to writers.

Reading Soft edge

Here are some starter questions, feel free to answer these or let’s see where the discussion takes us.

  • So what makes a good book club?
  • What is the ideal length of time between each meeting?
  • What are the best ways to create a discussion about the book?
  • What is the best way to learn about the books to be reviewed? A list in advance? Or a choice at the meeting?
  • Would you pay a fee to belong to a book club?
  • Virtual book clubs – what are they like?
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65 thoughts on “Wednesday Wing….Book Clubs. Love ’em? Hate ’em? What works? What doesn’t? #wwwblogs

  1. 1. So what makes a good book club?
    Establish early on that your book club requires dues, and those dues come in a bottle with a cork.
    2. What is the ideal length of time between each meeting?
    It takes at least a month for club members to convince themselves that nobody will remember how much of an ass they made of themselves at the last meeting–but still be able to recall EXACTLY the asinine behaviour of other club members.
    3. What are the best ways to create a discussion about the book?
    Uncork all the club dues.
    4. What is the best way to learn about the books to be reviewed? A list in advance? Or a choice at the meeting?
    After the obligatory fifteen minutes of polling all members to reveal that as usual only two have actually finished the book but everyone has an opinion, another 45 minutes to talk about everyone’s grandchildren and holidays, and an hour for refreshments/more dues, this month’s Leader will shout above the din of departing guests donning coats, “Right, so next month I thought we could read [mumbles something nobody ever catches]. I’ll send it along in the email.”
    5. Would you pay a fee to belong to a book club?
    Fee no. Dues yes.
    6. Virtual book clubs – what are they like?
    Well at least you wouldn’t have to share your dues…

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  2. I used to belong to an online bookclub of men & women. Only a few of us had met but we were all ex pupils of British forces schools abroad. We took it in turn to select the book of the month and we submitted our opinion to a private Yahoo group as soon as we had read it within that month. I found it much more difficult than writing a normal book review as you knew your readers had also read the book and you wanted to justify your opinions. After a few reviews were online we often had quite heated discussions. The club made me read books I would not normally have chosen and I really enjoyed the discussion, but gradually people dropped out as personal commitments left them with not enough time.

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  3. I like Barb’s take on book clubs 😀 I’ve never belonged to one either, haven’t actually fancied it. Like you, I prefer my own choice of books but I suppose there are pros and cons like everything else.

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  4. So what makes a good book club?
    One that rules only discuss books from the start – no discussion on who’s ill, who’s died, who’s having an affair.
    What is the ideal length of time between each meeting?
    At least a month – and then there’s no pretending you’ve read it and nodding at all the right places/times.
    What are the best ways to create a discussion about the book?
    Start talking about the book.
    What is the best way to learn about the books to be reviewed? A list in advance? Or a choice at the meeting?
    Not another list!!
    Would you pay a fee to belong to a book club?
    No – I once did belong to a group that thought this was necessary – we spent all of the two hours discussing it.
    Virtual book clubs – what are they like?
    Much better – then nobody can stare you in the face accusingly when you disagree with their opinion.
    SHARE THIS:

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  5. Book clubs can be fun. I belong to two of them in real life – one is for people who read whatever they want and they bring books to talk about, share or even give away (based on the bookcrossing concept), and the other where we choose the book of the month, the venue in accordance with the theme/setting of the book. I like the former best but both have their advantages.

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  6. I’ve never belonged to a group either, although one of the groups I belong to in Goodreads choses a book of the month, but I’ve only managed to read it for the month on a couple of occasions and not many people are committed. I quite like the idea of people just discussing whichever books they’ve read, though (at the moment I also prefer to read my own choice and the books I agree to review). 🙂

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  7. So what makes a good book club? – Debate and lots of wine

    What is the ideal length of time between each meeting? – A month minimum

    What are the best ways to create a discussion about the book? – Say something controversial and then run with it

    What is the best way to learn about the books to be reviewed? A list in advance? Or a choice at the meeting? – We normally take turns in suggesting two and then have the members vote on which one of the two we all read (allows for everyone to have chosen once and also to veto crap suggestions)

    Would you pay a fee to belong to a book club? – No

    Virtual book clubs – what are they like? – Can be fun, but I think there’s an optimal size, as can get very focused on what the admin of the group like to read and this may or may not agree with your tastes…

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  8. I’ve never been part of a book club, but have always wanted to join one. Other than my WordPress people, none of my real life friends (besides my sister) don’t like to read.

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  9. I am part of the WNBA ~ South Florida Chapter. Our particular chapter has many writers vs. readers but this is a National organization about the love of books. in 2017 it will be 100 yrs. old and it was founded by amazing women including Eleanor Roosevelt, I thought I would always avoid book clubs, but as a writer they have helped me a lot. I think I would join one that met 4 times a year, where the commitment would be just four books. Great post SHARING !

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    • Thank you Maria, wow 100 years old that shows great strength in those who belong. A book club which meets 4 times a year is also a good idea, it gives slower readers a chance to read with less pressure.

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  10. Pingback: Wednesday Wing….Book Clubs. Love ’em? Hate ’em? What works? What doesn’t? #wwwblogs | Defining Ways

  11. I have never been part of a book club, like yourself I prefer to pick my reads myself but I will not say I will never be a part of one because it helps, it makes you socialise, you get out of the house, and you can find new writers whose work you love.

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  12. Hi Rosie,
    I belong to a book club with a group of friends. So there’s no fees or dues involved. We take it in turns to have each other for dinner, where we eat, drink and chat, amongst other things, about the book we’ve read that month. Great evenings.
    One of the best things for me over the years, is that we all take it in turns to choose the book. So I read stuff I might not otherwise choose for myself. That’s actually brilliant!

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  13. I’ve never joined a book club, but I often finish a book and think I’d love a good chat about it with a group of other readers. Love the sound of Barb’s book club.

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  14. I’ve never been a “club” kind of person. Something perverse in me works against it. If we are to meet on Tuesday, on MONDAY, I want to talk books. On Tuesday, I want to be by myself all day. But I see the value in them, and as I meet more and more book club members (as a guest writer doing presentations at their meetings), I realize these ladies seem to be having a lot of fun. It’s something I’m definitely considering, though when I think I could fit it into my schedule, I have no idea.

    This discussion has given me lots of things to consider, though. Like how if I belonged to Barb’s book club, I’d spend the whole meeting facedown on the table, snoring, the dues having knocked me out cold! 🙂 Seriously, I think the right book club could be a whole lot of fun, and I’m in favor of anything that encourages people to read more.

    Thanks for the post, Rosie. I’m sharing it now!

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  15. Book clubs can be fun and can spark interesting debate and conversation. The clubs’ members highlight the diversity of readers’ preferences. What one person loves about a book, another person hates. My opinion? Viva la difference!

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  16. Some friends and I tried a book club (men and women) and met every couple of months, and I’m all for stepping out of your comfort zone occasionally, but our reading styles were so vastly different, we let the club die a natural death.

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  17. I started a book club some years back. I invited a friend and that friend had to invite a friend and so on till we were six. This was good to meet some new faces.
    The first night we meet to talk about how the book club would work.One member insisted on being secretary to keep track of what we read and what star value we gave a book (up to five).
    Everyone came prepared with several titles, which were thrown in a hat (2 titles each) and the ‘secretary’ put two titled on a calendar about 6 weeks apart, summers off.
    We tried to have some balance so that two heavy books weren’t picked for the same night’s discussion.
    The ‘secretary’ emailed each member list of books, dates and hostess for the year = about a dozen meetings per year.
    At first the second book was for those who didn’t like the first choice, but later we all read both books (I always did in those days).
    Each member chose which month she’d like to host on the dates chosen.
    A discussion occurred around a table with cheese, crackers, wine, fruit and whatever else the hostess wanted to serve.
    We were together for 10 years.
    When a member decided she didn’t want to belong, or couldn’t, she was responsible in finding a replacement.
    Near the end of our 10 years, we’d become close friends and began the evening catching up on what happened in our lives since the last meeting.

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  18. I’ve been running(-ish) a book club ten years and was a member of another before that. So I feel that I can say with that amount of expertise that, basically, I’m with Barb.

    Beyond that…

    Having had our group go through a few growing pains and changing members and even one memorable schizem over a coupon that resulted in two book clubs (Yes girls are ridiculous.) I would say size plays an important part. Small enough that everyone is comfortable speaking up (readers are not always the most extroverted people about) but big enough that you can get a discussion going or if one person is absent it still feels like a gathering. We have five right now and I think that’s about perfect.

    We meet once a month, most of us read the book right before. I’m pretty sure the month time frame has more to do with the reasons Barb mentioned and much less to do with time to read the book!

    Some months we never discuss the book. Some months we chat about it briefly and sometimes it leads to long discussions. Factors for those things range from if anyone had any traumatic life changing events that need everyone’s attention to the book it’s self. Some books beg for discussion and some don’t.

    I would hate an advance list. We rotate who hosts and the host picks the book. It allows for some. “Oh my gosh we just read three books in a row about adultery can we please pick something happier this time!?!” requests which I think is a good thing!

    Fees no. Dues yes! 🙂

    I was part of a virtual book club on twitter that a few of us have just picked up again. It’s a little tricky to discuss in 140 characters or less but it works and we were able to discuss the books as we read them (now discussing chap 1 -4 sort of thing) which was really fun!

    I think the best part of a book club (besides the dues drinking and comraderie) is reading books someone else chooses that you might not. Sometimes of course you hate it, but often it turns into a happy surprise!

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  19. I joined a book club 7 yrs ago to find out what my peers liked to read and I’ve been with them since. Then I joined another one, so now I’m in two.
    Yes, we spend time discussing life events but it fits in well with book discussions. And I’ve read books I never would have chosen. I love book clubs. I’m on my own a lot, writing, so I look forward to socializing monthly.

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  20. In our book club, we take it in turns to host and everyone brings snacks and/or drinks. On average we meet every 6 weeks. We each suggest a book to read and our suggestions go on a list. No money is involved and I don’t think I’d pay to join a book club. I’ve never joined an online book club and I don’t think I would – I feel like I spend most of my life online as it is, and it makes a refreshing change to get out and discuss books face-to-face.

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  21. I’ve never joined a book club. I’d never pay to join one. Shelfari groups have some buddy reads, which is good. However, Amazon announced they will merge Shelfari with Goodreads, so not sure how it will all pan out. 🙂
    @dino0726 from 
    FictionZeal – Impartial, Straightforward Fiction Book Reviews

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  22. I have belonged to several over the years. I left one because I had to teach on the evening we met. I belong to two at the moment. Both have more serious books – I’m not interested in the latest best sellers. We meet later so we don’t get side tracked by food. Lots of wine and nibbles. One group we have a December meal and choose our books for the following year. We check that we have a variety and everyone gets at least one of their choices. We meet monthly. It seems to work. I’ve enjoyed many of the books I didn’t think I would and probably found only a few duds. I like the talk. In that group no money changes hands. In another we are kind of led by someone, it doesn’t work so well. But I like the others members so I continue, thinking all the time I’ll leave next time.
    I don’t underestimate the social aspect of reading and discussing together. It’s fantastic.

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