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New Feature – Interviews With Book Clubs

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
Mister Pip
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!

| Tags: , , 22 comments »

22 Responses to “New Feature – Interviews With Book Clubs”

  1. Lisa

    Great interview Trish! I’ve never been in a book club but would love to find one in my area. Wow – 13 years! Ti’s book club has lasted longer than my marriage did! lol That’s awesome!


  2. Ti

    Thanks for the interview Trish. I can’t wait to see how our special meeting goes next week. I hope we can make it a private group but we’ll see.


  3. lilly

    I think it’s a nice addition to your blog. I have always been wary of bookclubs since I don’t like other people having any control over what and when I want to read. Howver, I did give in few months ago and joined an awesome online bookclub. I find it a much better fit for me than a physical one because I can log in anytime and the people I meet there are also fellow bloggers which is an added plus.


  4. Britt

    Very interesting!

    13 years, that’s amazing! Mine’s been going…. 3 or 4? And that feels impressive some days! Obviously not so much though!


  5. Debbie

    I recently began an online Christian book club and have been wondering how other book club leaders do there thing and if I could do anything better. So thanks for doing this interview!


  6. Kathy

    I laughed when she said the author did a dramatic reading of erotica! I think I would have sat there with my mouth hanging open. I enjoyed the interview!


  7. booklogged

    Enjoyed the interview very much. It is fun to compare the the similarities and differences with the f2f bookclub I used to attend. We met at the library also. I quit going because people were choosing such lightweight books – no substance, nothing to discuss. I am going to start attending again because they have chosen A Thousand Splendid Suns.


  8. Charlene Ann Baumbich

    This is a GREAT addition to your blog! As an author (and avid reader) who’s not in one spot long enough to join a club, it’s good to get a vicarious “read.” I’ve participated in phone conversations with clubs, one that blessed me so much, I actually wrote about it in Don’t Miss Your Life! One of the participants asked me a specific question about where the idea for a certain scene came from in a Dearest Dorothy book. The way she described what that scene had done for her in HER life was such a huge blessing, I had to write about THAT!


    Thanks for the great job you do. Love your tweets, too.
    Charlene Ann Baumbich (aka to my family as Grannie B)


  9. Alyce

    That is so funny about the author reading from erotica! I’m sure I would have been shocked – and then amused. I can’t even look at romance book covers without chuckling.


  10. Scobberlotcher

    Great new blog feature. I enjoyed reading the responses. 🙂


  11. Lisa

    Nice feature. I’d love to be in a book club, but I think we’d need to meet where there was good.


  12. Lorin

    Fun post!

    My book club is the opposite – private, a tight knit group, very informal – so its interesting to hear about “the other side.”


  13. Nicole

    Wow, how interesting. An erotica reading in a library is not something that I can easily picture. I’ve been is a few book clubs over the years, one that I run myself…they’ve all been private so it’s great to get perspective on the public ones.


  14. Bonnie

    I like this new feature. I am in a private book club that I started 6 years ago and it’s interesting to read about other groups. I’ll look forward to reading about more book clubs.

    I’m impressed that Ti’s book club has met for over 13 years! That was quite a situation with the author reading erotica! One to remember that is for sure.


  15. Maya M.

    Nice feature! I’m new to the book club life (after having lusted to belong to one for years) as our neighborhood book club formed three books ago. We mostly live walking distance from each other and are working (some from home) moms.

    We had an author join us from Hawaii by phone and it was fabulous! Really intriguing and good fun. Though some members felt she monopolized the conversation too much *g*


  16. Lisamm

    Ti, I am DYING over the (totally unrelated to the discussion) author reading erotica at the library.. that is just bizarre!! How on earth (and why?) was that organized? SO weird! I would have walked out too! Way to make a book group uncomfortable, geez!


  17. Charlene Ann Baumbich

    Maya, I’ve experienced the opposite end of that monopolization. That’s when I learned to set a time limit and to request folks have their questions lined up. The ladies got to talking (they’d also been cocktailing) about how something in the book related to something in their town. They were off and running without me for 7 minutes (yup, watching my watch) while I listened in, waiting for them to return!


  18. Julie P.

    I love this new feature! What a fantastic idea! I also like learning about Ti and her book club! I always enjoy seeing what works for other clubs.


  19. jennsbookshelf

    Great new feature! I’m a member of an online book club and I’m always trying to find ways we can enhance/improve our club.


  20. Beth F

    Great feature!! I loved the erotica reading. That is too funny.


  21. Amy Reads Good Books

    I agree! The anecdote about the author reading was the best part!


  22. Rebecca @ The Book Lady's Blog

    I just lost my book club virginity a couple of weeks ago in a group I am co-leading, so I will be looking forward to this feature and collecting ideas for my new group. Great idea, Trish!


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