Today I have the special privilege of having a guest blogger. Robena Grant isn’t just any blogger, either. She is my friend and former critique partner, plus occasional second set of eyes on my manuscripts. She has also graciously agreed to explain a little about book clubs. Take it away Robena!
Ten years ago, I would never have envisioned myself as an active member of a book club. I was often invited to join a group. I always declined. I figured it might be too toxic. Besides, I don’t like to break up my day for something that might leave me in a less that content frame of mind. Oh, believe me I probably had about ten excuses. Like, what if I didn’t like the book that was chosen? Or, what if the women don’t like me? I’m very opinionated. I like what I like. I don’t care if you don’t like what I like, but really, seriously, I’d hate to have to tell you that your choice of book sucks. Heaven help me, I hate conflict. And, what if I was the only person who didn’t “get” what the book was about?
So I stayed away. Then I joined the Jenny Crusie Forums and they had a twice a month Book Club. I didn’t have to choose the book. It was all done online. I could join in whenever I had the time. I didn’t have to dress, or wear make-up. No commitment. The author of the book would come by and chat, and as a reader I began to feel kind of special, especially when a comment of mine was validated or if it sparked an ongoing dialogue. There were moderators. There were rules for these things. Who knew?
Two years ago, a lady in my small housing development mentioned starting a club. They invited me. Oh, dear. Out came the long list of excuses, but thankfully I didn’t decline outright. I thought it through. Guess what? I love it. Our monthly attendance varies from 8-12 women depending on who is in town. We’re a diverse group, all of the same pie in that we’re female, yet each slice a little different.
In case you’re wondering how a club works, we meet once a month in our clubhouse. The President opens with any club business. The Secretary sends all communications via email and posts the monthly event on our TV channel. We bring in books we’d like to suggest. A vote is taken, and we record which books will be read for the following three months. One rule is you must have read the novel first to be able to recommend it to the group. Then
the President introduces the host for that month and she moderates the discussion. Nobody is shy about voicing their opinion. And everyone gets heard. It’s kind of fun for me to hear why something didn’t work for a reader. I’m a writer. This is the most incredible feedback for me. It’s Writing Craft 101. No discussions are allowed on husbands, households, fashions, or anything else, until the book club ends. Then there is a social hour, and of course, a little wine.
When NY Times bestselling author, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, came to our small town, we read her novel, Call Me Irresistible. We went to dinner, and to the library to hear her speak. When we read, Sarah’s Key, by Tatiana de Rosnay, we had a guest, Emile Rummel, a Jewish man who had been in Paris at that time. After we read Water for Elephants, by Sara Gruen, we attended the movie and discussed and compared both art forms. We did the same with, The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. There are many friendships formed from groups. Three ladies from the club are now my beta readers and read and comment on my manuscripts. And I always have a buddy I can call to go see a movie with.
This December I’ve invited, Lynne Marshall, to the Book Club. One for the Road is her new release, and a fabulous story. We’ll read it in advance and then discuss it with her. I’m looking forward to the event. What type of pie will I serve? The hero, Tyler White, is definitely an American honey; a country western singer who needs some good loving and home cooking. What do you think? Apple, pecan, or blueberry?
Oh, I think apple all the way for Tyler! Thank you so much Robena for describing your experience with book clubs, I hope it encourages people to join one, not only for the reading experience, but for the socializing!
Have you ever thought about joining a book club, or do you have a good or bad experience you’d like to share? I’ll give one commenter an amazon gift of One for the Road in either e-book or print.
You can visit Robena at her website and blog here: Thanks for visiting the blog today. Make it a great week!