Tag: book clubs

book clubs

I Have a Question

Book clubs seem more popular than ever. Focused on a variety of themes and genres, there are as many different types of clubs as there are different books. One thing common to all clubs, members talk about. Plots, characters, broader issues raised by the story—all serve as fuel for discussion. Authors may connect with readers by visiting clubs in person or virtually and sometimes facilitate discussion by providing discussion questions. Today, some of the Missdemeanors offer questions for book clubs.  Tracee1. Agnes lost her husband and changed jobs, taking on what many would consider a higher pressure position. What do you think about her decisions and her manner of dealing with loss and family and search for personal identity? 2. Julien Vallotton is clearly romantically interested in Agnes, yet she resists. Do you think there is such a thing as an ‘appropriate’ or ‘necessary’ time to mourn the loss of a spouse or partner before taking the next romantic steps? Have you witnessed a situation where the threat of external judgment prevented the bereaved from enjoying the next years of their life?     Susan1. Maggie Dove’s new client believes her sister is evil. Have you ever met anyone you believed to be evil? 2. As Maggie Dove begins investigating, she has to go through old high school year books and she’s surprised to see how some of the people she knows have changed. How have you changed since high school (beyond the wrinkles)?        Alison1. Abish has returned home to a state, and religion, she left thinking she’d never return. Now, she’s trying to reconnect with her family and navigate as an outsider in an insider community. How well do you think she gets along with a dominant outlook that differs from her own? 2. The first murder Abish encounters has hallmarks of a deadly ritual supported–in theory–by Brigham Young and other early LDS Church leaders. It has long been forgotten by most, but offers an interesting example of how communities handle dark parts of their own history. Do you think there are any societies that have dealt particularly well or particularly badly with this universal problem of processing ugliness in their own shared past (whether it be slavery, racism, sexism, violence, antisemitism, ethnic cleansing, pogroms . . .)? Is there a good template for handling these issues?  Michele1. Sabrina Salter’s gut told her that she and Henry should not take on an eleventh villa, but Henry was insistent and Sabrina relented. How do you know when to follow your gut instinct and not yield to the judgment of others or when to back down?. 2.Sabrina tells Henry at the end of the book, “I’m going back to Boston to meet the grandmother I’ve never seen before it’s too late.” What advice would you offer Sabrina about meeting a grandmother who has chosen to ignore her existence?    Alexia1.In Killing in C Sharp, Gethsemane has to work with someone she despises, someone who once libeled a friend of hers, in order to save people she cares about. How would you handle having to work with someone you disliked? 2. Maja’s relatives got away with her murder. She dealt with the injustice by coming back as a ghost and taking vengeance on not just her relatives, but anyone who reminded her of them. How would you deal with being a victim of injustice?      What questions have you discussed in your book club? Or what questions would you like to discuss if you belonged to a book club? What questions would you offer to readers of your books? Share in the comments or join the discussion on Facebook. https://www.facebook.com/missdemeanorsbooks/   

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Member of the Club

 Confession: I don’t belong to a book club. I’ve never belonged to one. Book clubs have become a popular way for readers to connect, to come together around a shared interest for a mutual purpose—book discussion. Club members spend time talking, learning, and socializing. Book clubs are everywhere—libraries, churches, bookstores, private homes, online. They form around specific genres, specific authors, specific age groups. Although the basic idea is the same—read and discuss a book—each group is as unique as its members. In some groups, members vote on what to read next, in others, members take turns choosing. In some, the topic is chosen by the group’s host or the place, such as a library or a bookstore, sponsoring the club. Some chose books based on the season, such as those focused on the church calendar. Some groups are fluid; members come and go. Some groups have a fixed membership roster and long-term members who attend book club as faithfully as my parents’ generation attended bridge club. Some groups, like cookbook-themed clubs, offer recipes for members to prepare beforehand and sample at the meetings. Some groups ask authors questions before the meetings and make the answers part of the discussion. Some groups invite authors to speak. Some publishers, like mine, Henery Press, offer discussion questions for their books. Some books include discussion questions in an appendix. Book clubs even appear in books, movies, and TV shows. There are several book club-themed cozies. One of my favorite episodes of “Midsomer Murders” centers around a murder at a book club. So why don’t I join one? Because, to me, reading has always been a private affair. Unsociable by nature (extremely introverted INTJ), I’ve never been a joiner. Books have always provided an important source of solitude, an escape from the world around me. I can spend hours alone at a bookstore or library, wandering the aisles, searching for a volume in which to lose myself. Book in hand, I retreat to a cozy seat, preferably in a favorite café or pub with something delicious to eat and drink, and disappear into the world on the page. I don’t want to talk about books, I want to inhabit them, experience their stories, then savor those experiences internally. How about you? Book club member or solitary reader? If you’re in a club (or two or four), what genres or authors do they focus on? What types of questions or issues does your group discuss? What foods pair well with book club? Comment on the blog or join the discussion over on Facebook. 

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Book Clubs!

 Writers love books, right? Which must mean that writers love book clubs. After all, this means that people are coming together under the auspices of reading. Recently I’ve talked to several people about their book clubs – clubs of long standing, walking clubs, clubs that meet every month and those that meet four times a year. Clubs that are mainly social clubs and others that are for serious discussion only. The common theme – apart from the books – was that they are all women. This started my quest for a book club for men. Turns out it wasn’t hard to find. Not only did I find a few, I found one that struck me as very special. The Short Attention Span Book Club (SASBC) located in the community of San Luis Obispo, California. The founder, Will Jones, retired from a career in public education (high school English teacher, high school administrator, high school principal) and was interested in next steps. He first started a website called Everyday People where he posted poems he’d written and reviewed books and movies in a section called Short Attention Span reviews. From this the book club was born with the theme ‘short attention span books’ (300 pages or so). Since they started in February 2012, they’ve have only missed a few months and have read well over 50 books. Will sounds like a lot of my friends and acquaintances who are members of books clubs. He has a lot of interests, including traveling, writing and publishing poetry and writing monthly articles for a local magazine, and spending a lot of time outdoors as a backpacker, hiker and rock climber, but he says that the “SASBC has been the most rewarding activity of my retirement because it’s a shared experience with men my age and we talk about literature! Many of us are dealing with the challenges that come with aging, so even though we don’t dwell on those health issues, there’s always a level of support and understanding. We’re a tight group.” As an author I like books clubs because people are reading books, but my exchange with Will reminded me that books are about far more than reading. They are about connecting with people.   Will shared more details about the SASBC:   “We’ve had vibrant, rewarding email exchanges with three authors: Larry Watson (Montana 1948 and American Boy), William Giraldi (Hold the Dark), and Jess Walter (Beautiful Ruins). Larry Watson acknowledged his debt to book clubs and wrote that our club name was the best he’d heard to that point. Two local authors, John Hampsey (Kaufman’s Hill) and Franz Wisner (Honeymoon with My Brother) have attended meetings to discuss their books. We attended a Q&A with Kevin Powers (The Yellow Birds) at Cuesta College, a local community college that had chosen The Yellow Birds as its book of the year. We all got to meet Kevin and have our copies signed by him. “I keep updating our list of possible books to read. I recently added several to the classics column that were written between 1910 and 1920 because one club member has a habit of asking which books we’re reading might still be well regarded in 100 years. “We are a relatively homogenous group: college educated professional seniors, most either fully or partly retired. We rotate houses for our meetings, which start at 7:00 and usually end by 9:00 or 9:15. We have a great time, but there’s very little idle chit chat. We spend a few minutes sharing “what’s up,” choosing future books to read, agreeing on date and location, and then we dive into our discussion. He included a two column list of books (attached below) they use as a resource for choosing which books to read. Books with an x next to them are books the SASBC has read (the final two are the next up in their rotation). A big hit recently was O Pioneers by Willa Cather and he notes that they will probably read the other two books in her prairie trilogy soon. This has made me curious about books clubs – what works and doesn’t work? What are people reading and why?     

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