Isn’t that the cutest button EVAR? Ann-Kat from Today, I Read created this button for me. She could do one for you if you wanted…time permitting. 🙂 The turnaround time was FAST! Less than two weeks! And this even though I was like, Um, can you make me a button, even though I don’t know what it should look like or what the title of my series should be?
So I decided to change the name of my series from Interviews With Book Clubs (dull and insipid) to Literary Society Sleuth (fresh and fun). And if you think I came up with that little gem all on my own, well then you probably didn’t see the flurry of IM’ing I did with Michelle from Galleysmith about a week ago. She’s a great person to brainstorm with!
Anywhoozie, on to the task at hand!
Today I’m interviewing Kelly from YAnnabe. I know I say it each time, but this is the best book club interview!!! She talks about throwing food during a book club meeting, pokes fun at me, and generally kept me riveted. I’m sure after reading this interview, you’ll be jealous of her too.
Psst! If you’d like to be interviewed for my Literary Society Sleuth series, send me an email at trish at heylady(dot)net. You don’t have to have a blog to get interviewed!
How long has your book club been in existence? A little over 5 years ago, I had an essay published in a book called MoveOn’s 50 Ways to Love Your Country: How to Find Your Political Voice and Become a Catalyst for Change. So when I got my hands on the finished book, I read it cover to cover. (After checking to make sure that holy crap, yes, my name was actually printed in a real live book!)
One of the essays was about how to have a political book club. I’d always wanted to read books like that and learn more about important issues in the community, but when I was ready for my next book, I never seemed to choose them from the bookshelf. The idea of a book club was a perfect solution to that problem, so I emailed a few friends and got the ball rolling.
Also, it was a terribly convenient excuse to toot my own horn about my 15 minutes of fame.
Does your book club have a name? Yep, we voted on it and everything. OPRA’s Book Club, or if you prefer: Our Politically Ravenous Austinite Book Club. But please don’t tell Oprah, because we really aren’t up for a lawsuit.
How many people are in your book club? 16 right now, although people drop in and out as their schedules require, and we usually have 8-10 members at each meeting.
Is your book club open to new members? How do new members end up in your book club? Yes, new members are always welcome. Current members spread the word to friends and invite them to join us.
We also have a 60-question test to weed out anybody of the opposite political persuasion. And everyone has to sign a contract that gives their firstborn to the Green Party.
Seriously though, while most of our group considers themselves progressive, not everyone is in the same place on the political spectrum. So we try to keep it civil and mature and fact-based in our discussions. No calling anyone poopyheads.
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 every 6 weeks so it’s easier for everyone to commit to reading a book without having to give up their other reading. Our regular meeting day has changed over the years as members’ schedules have changed and some of us have had kids, but it’s currently Sunday evening.
What kind of books do you read? Political, but we use the term very loosely. We read fiction (like The God of Small Things and 1984) and a wide range of nonfiction (from The Tipping Point to Fast Food Nation to Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic).
How do you choose books? We have a list of potential books that anyone can add to. (By the way, we recently switched to using a Goodreads group, which makes this super easy!)
Then I use a random generator to select 3 titles, which we then vote on via a SurveyMonkey poll. We recently decided that we’d like to officially switch between fiction and nonfiction every time, so we’ll have to refine the process a bit for that, possibly by keeping a separate fiction and nonfiction “to read” list on Goodreads.
Which book generated the best discussion? Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic, hands down. It was the biggest meeting we’ve ever had — close to 20 people showed up. That book rocked my world, and I know a lot of the other members feel the same way. I’m so glad I read it, and I never would have without a book club to nudge me in the right direction.
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’ve never done that. But we did choose a book once (Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism) because we knew the author, Nobel Peace prize winner Muhammad Yunus, was going to be speaking at a local bookstore in the next month. So then we went to hear him speak. I couldn’t attend because I had a newborn at home, but everyone who made it to that meeting said it was incredibly inspirational.
Do you have one person who moderates the discussion? No, we all jump in with whatever we want to say. We have a couple of chatty members who always seem to save us from any major lulls. (Are you that person in book club meetings, Trish? 😉 (My response is at the * below)
Have you ever had a professional moderator moderate one of your meetings? No.
How long does the discussion last? Typically 1.5 to 2 hours, although some discussions of amazing books have gone longer, like with Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic.
Do you eat food at your book club meeting? What would a book club meeting without food be?! Boring, that’s what. Also, it’s fun to throw food at someone if you disagree with what they’re saying.
Lately, we’ve taken to meeting at local coffee shops with tasty treats. But if we meet at someone’s house, we randomly pick someone to bring the snacks, someone else to bring soda, and another person to bring beer. This, by the way, is an excellent tactic for making sure people feel obligated to read the book and show up to the meeting! And we got that idea after reading Influencer: The Power to Change Anything.
Our next meeting is going to be a potluck dinner. Yum!
How do you decide where the meeting will be held? Someone usually throws out a suggestion via email, and other people chime in.
Is there anything else about your book club you’d like to share? If you’ve never been in a book club before, give it a try! It’s a fun way to add a social component to a very isolating hobby. And it’s always so interesting to learn what different things other people have noticed from the same book. Happy book clubbing!
**No! Not really. Sometimes? Okay fine, this is me.
If you want to read more interviews with book club, check these out:
3) Heather’s book club. She gives great info on how to moderate a book club!
2) Michelle’s book club. Oh, what I would give to be in her book club!
1) Ti’s book club. A seriously must-read for the story about inviting an author to participate when they discussed this author’s book.