Book Club Chatter, Book Reviews

An Experienced Book Club’s 8 Rules

Or 8 Questions to make your Book Club Experience Easier…

Two years ago I joined a women’s book club of some long-standing. It’s hard to find your place amongst a group of people who already have their own niches. Well it was easy for me. While I have come to love these ladies, I rarely IF EVER agree with them. So starts my third year of sharing a writer’s perspective with a bunch of book lovers…

That isn’t to say I’m a book hater. I love books for the insight they shed on the art of writing. So perhaps then it would be better to label me a lover of story. I feel it’s my duty to share with the club ladies why some stories move me more than others and how writing and story elements are key to that love. A book club IS a group organized for the discussion and reviewing of books…or so I thought! Aw well, I always was one to go against the grain. What can I say, I feel like a discussion is more than rehashing every moment of the book I loved whilst ignoring the elephant in the room.

Still they take my words with grace and tact. And even though I have to start each book club year (which we celebrate in December) listening to comments about how their book selection was “very well written” I still attend.

I must really be a glutton for punishment.

We celebrate the start of the book club year by holding an annual book gift exchange. We each bring a wrapped book we’ve previously read and loved. (Whether we’ve really read it or not can be fudged but you have to be willing to bet your good taste on it if you haven’t!) Then we choose numbers as we nibble on finger foods. We can pick from the pile of wrapped presents or we can steal one of the opened books. The only rule is you can’t steal back from the person who just stole from you. Since the first person had to choose a wrapped present their benefit is to be able to trade for any book they want, with the swap being the final steal. The point isn’t to just exchange your book for a book you haven’t read – it’s to end up with one of the eight books we’ll be reading over the next year.

I’ve been really blessed to be middle of the pack the last two years with my number choosing. This has left me in a better position to get a book to take home I actually WANT to read. This year I “stole” an absent book-clubber’s book (the hostess chose for her) which happened to be the same book she’d left with the hostess for her gift! (I didn’t want her to end up with the same book, which she’s already read and I also happened to really want the book!) The missing book-clubber wrote a charming letter she’d included in her book which I snitched from her copy to share with you (see below).

Woodward Book Club Letter

Cute, huh?

I know! It really made me want to read the book. (And I love stories where someone finds a small helpless creature, human or animal, and raises it from a baby.)

Choosing 2014’s Eight Books

The next step in our book exchange is to choose the club’s eight selections for the year (we skip two summer months as well as November due to Thanksgiving and of course, December). We did this with a ballot (this is actually the first year we started this and it was way better than our previous method – keep reading to learn more). We write our eight personal picks out of the books brought, tally the numbers and vote on ties for the last spot. It actually worked well to get a good consensus instead of one or two women getting to pick their favorites (see what I mean?). We were very agreeable about the ones we didn’t much want to read, only voting on the last two books (funny that, as almost every single one of the rejects were books I wasn’t interested in.)

This year we had an influx of young blood into our book club. Friends talked to friends and suddenly some of the older ladies have bowed out while a whole flock of fluttery twenty year olds have joined the group. This is reflected in the plethora of choices we had to choose from, yet for all their diversity of subject they all fell under a similar theme: non-fiction. Even the fiction books had a reality element that would fit nicely under a non-fiction label. Oddly this thematic element happens every year no matter the personalities or ages of our club members (keep this in mind as you continue reading).

I’m not abashed to admit I’m no fan of non-fiction, and some of our Book Club’s choices are almost unreadable to me I have so little interest. After last year, I’ve decided to mix it up. I’m not going to kill myself to read books I have to plod through for months to finish. So are you curious as to which selections won their book battles? Why did we pass on the losers? Which of them am I going to read and share my opinion on? And most importantly how are these 8 book battles important to you?

Every December we start our book club year. Is it a party or would it be better to call it an all out…war? There are many book battles that night to find the best selections for our ladies to read through the year. From this year’s battles I’ve created 8 questions to ask yourself while you’re standing in the bookstore or surfing the web for the perfect book. This year be prepared with a winner selection by following these simple rules…

Click to page 2 to read more on the book battles and learn the first of the 8 Rules from an Experienced Book Clubber…
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