I’ve written about the meandering path I had to take to finally end up with the book club I currently have. I currently have a book club that I take the lead in organizing, and because I’ve never been in a real book club before, I get worried that things could be done better or different. So instead of wondering what all the other book clubs do, I decided I’d go ahead and ask. Thus begins a new feature on Hey Lady!
The first person I interviewed in a book club is Ti from Book Chatter and Other Stuff. She had some great answers…particularly about whether they’ve ever had an author whose book they were discussing join their discussion.
How long has your book club been in existence?
My club has been in existence for almost 13 years. I have been with the group for 12 years.
Does your book club have a name?
We are named after the public library. The “Valencia Library Book Group.”
How many people are in your book club?
There are 6-8 core members that are always there, but many floaters. There were over 20 at our last meeting.
Is your book club open to new members? How do new members end up in your book club?
Since we meet at a public library, our group is open to the public. Anyone that wants to check us out can do so on our regular meeting night. We have a flyer that is posted in the library itself and ads that run in the local city magazine and newspaper.
When do you meet? Is it a set day every month, or do you work it out so it’s on a different day but convenient for everyone?
We meet the 1st thursday of the month. Due to library events we have had to change the night or location a few times but not often. In those instances we take a vote on what other night works best.
What kind of books do you read?
We read mostly literary fiction but some historical fiction and the occasional memoir.
How do you choose books?
We meet once a year to select books for the entire year. At that meeting, each person pitches 1-2 books and provides additional reading material as needed. We take a vote to select the most popular titles and then take another vote to select the final 12.
There have been a couple of instances where people have stood firm and insisted that their book be chosen even though it was not a vote getter. In those instances, we choose 13 and double-up on books one month.
Was the book that the person insisted on worth it? How is it that people stand firm when a book is not voted on?
It’s happened a few times where we’ve had to double up or even go into the 13th month and nearly every time, it has not worked out. The book was either too slow or didn’t live up to the hype, etc.
A member will tend to stand firm if their book recommendations have never been chosen in the past or if the book in question has won several awards, etc. When a member is this aggressive there are other members that will change their vote or suddenly agree to the selection in an attempt to be fair. This is how their pick makes it in.
What I hate the most is that these members don’t even show up to discuss their book when the time comes!
Which book generated the best discussion?
Recently, Half of a Yellow Sun generated the best discussion. In the past, I recall good discussions for :
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
East of Eden
Do you invite authors to join your discussion when you discuss their book? How do you handle having the author in on your discussion if some or all of the members didn’t absolutely love the book?
We invited an author once and it was a disaster so we never tried it again. The author had nothing to do with our current reading selection but the Library asked us to invite her so we did. She did a dramatic reading of erotica. It was a real eye-opener and I ended up walking out fo the room because I could not contain myself.
However, I think we have recovered from that now and would consider author interaction in the future.
Do you have one person who moderates the discussion?
We do have a moderator although she is not from the library oddly enough.
Have you ever had a professional moderator moderate one of your meetings?
How long does the discussion last?
A good hour. Sometimes 1.5 hours.
Do you eat food at your book club meeting?
We cannot eat in the library but when we meet at a different location, due
to scheduling conflicts, then we usually include food of some sort.
How do you decide where the meeting will be held?
Right now, it’s a given that it will be held at the library but the public venue is really not working for us now so we are holding a special meeting to discuss privatization of the group which will include a possible location change.
Is there anything else about your book club you’d like to share?
In all of these years we’ve have just one male participant. He is part of the core group and it’s odd because we read a lot of heavy literary fiction and never read chick-lit so I’m not sure why more men don’t join.
We also do not have any rules. Although this has gotten to be a problem lately with 20+ people at the meeting.
Thanks, Ti, for telling me all about your book club!
If you’d like to be interviewed about your book club (I’m going to use these same questions for each interview, as I want to know how each book club works), then just shoot me an email at trish at heylady dot net and I’ll get you into the schedule!