Friday, February 19, 2010

Are you Clubbin'?

Just last month I went to my first every book club meeting. I was nervous on so many levels. First, I was worried that I would hate a book that I was "assigned" to read. This goes back to my time in college when I struggled through assigned reading because I just couldn't "enjoy" a book I had to read and write a report about. But my friend assured me that it was all in good fun so I went for it. Well turns out I loved the book (The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs). My second trepidation was not really knowing what a book club was. And after doing some online snooping I was even more confused. It turns out there are just about as many book club types as there are genres in bookstore. Some can be very academic - where they discuss the structure of the book, the style of writing, the technical aspects of character development, etc. And at the other end of the spectrum - some are really just an excuse for some women to get out of the house (and a lot of them don't even read the book!). The good part about the dichotomy is that there is book club out there to support any type of reader. There are even digital book clubs for those of you that can't get out of the house for an evening at the coffee shop.
But the real point of the book club is just like any other club. It is a meeting of people whom share a common interest and want to discuss it with others. Specifically a book club is a chance to read a book that you might not have picked up on your own and discuss how it read for you. Some clubs stay within a few similar genres while others are all over the map. But finding a book club is a good way to give purpose to your reading. Here is some book club etiquette I learned in my online snooping:
  1. Read - or at least skim - the selected book. You should at least have an idea of the book, and not just what's on the dust jacket. This is also important because it is likely the ending will be given away and if you ever planned to read the book, it might be spoiled now!
  2. It's fine to think a book stinks but be respectful. Don't go personal attack on the one who selected the book.
  3. It is easy for the topic of discussion to stray from the book, have a list of potential questions to keep you on track. You can also institute a "First Hour Book Talk, Second Hour Social Talk" rule.
  4. For books with rather intimate scenes, keep in mind that although many are comfortable reading it in the privacy of their own home, they may want to censor things a bit in the discussion - so be respectful.
  5. If it is your turn to pick the book/moderate - take it seriously. Pick a book that you think a majority of your club will like.
There are lots of places to find a book club. The obvious one being your local public library. But you can also find both real life and digital clubs on social networking sites (Twitter, Facebook, Craigslist, MySpace, etc.). PaperBack Swap has local chapters all over the country that are open to all PBS members. You can also always just start your own club with your fellow book loving friends. And whatever the level of academia you include in your club, make sure it is enjoyable. Happy Reading!
Are you part of a book club? What's your favorite aspect?

7 comments:

  1. My favortie part of book club is usually discussing the book. I have come to find though that many people use it as a social outlet to get out of the house. I am fine with that but there are times when I really like the book and can't wait to talk about it. It is disappointing when others don't share the same enthusiasm. I have come to enjoy my online bookclubs moreso because we actually discuss the books and you can choose which ones you do or don't want to read and we have a chatter outlet as well. I have come to know some fabulous ladies there.

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  2. Very good point princess. It can be very difficult to find another group that has the same concept of a book club as you. I am going to look into the online book clubs.

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  3. Depnding on the genre you are looking for, here are a few I enjoy (all on yahoo groups):

    Booklover's Group
    Mystery Lover's Bookclub
    Cozy First Mysteries

    Good luck!

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  4. I think perhaps adding a monthly book club chat session to this blog could be an interesting adventure! I personally would enjoy a club that reads an eclectic mix of books since I like some variety. Any feelings on this Outnumbered?

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  5. I think that is an awesome idea Five! I am going to see about arranging something like that! I will keep you all posted!

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  6. I love my book club. We are an eclectic group, and, much like the Knitting Club, we have different levels of expertise and experience, including one or two who just come for the snacks and the socialization. I think sometimes we are more support group than we are book club.

    I am probably one of the most vocal of the group - shocking, I know.

    I'm thinking about joining the local indie bookshop's book club, which is a much more serious group.

    I would be interested in joining a virtual book club - keep us posted!

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  7. I think I have worked up a sort of "Club Charter" for an online book club. I want to put it online on the 1st of March but I have yet to decide on a book - any suggestions?

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I love love love love to hear what other people think - share your thoughts so we can start a dialogue!