The Reading Cove
In this interview, Millenia --- founder of “The Reading Cove” in Orlando, FL --- discusses her group’s 11-year history. It was founded as, and remains, an online book club with 25 members, ranging in age from early 20s to seniors, who correspond via the group’s website. Discussions are hosted online, and members have devised a fun way to determine the following month’s selection.
Q: Does your group have a name and/or a theme? How long has your group been in existence?
A: Yes, we're “The Reading Cove,” and we've been together nearly 11 years, since March 31, 2000.
Q: How many members do you have? How many men, how many women? What age are most of your members?
A: We currently have 25 members, including one man. Ages range from early 20s to seniors. We also have two long-time international members: Sally is in Australia and Mary is in Scotland. Because we are very active and have lots of different activities, we cap membership at 25 and have a waiting list. We boot members who don't contribute regularly (lurkers) to make room for newbies.
Q: How often do you meet? Where do you meet?
A: Well, since we're based online with members all over, we interact everyday, but we have scheduled monthly trivia quizzes on our picks! Discussion begins the day of the quiz.
Q: Who leads the discussion? Do you use reading group guides?
A: Whoever picked the book leads the discussion. Sometimes they use guides, sometimes questions of their own, sometimes both!
Q: What kind of books do you read?
A: Because of the unique way we build our Cove History, we read a wide variety of genres. To date, we've read 119 books together! You can see all our past picks here on our website.
Q: How do you choose your books? Do you choose one new book at each meeting, or do you choose the books for a number of meetings ahead of time?
A: The winner of the current pick's trivia quiz gets to choose three books that we all vote on. The poll winner is our next pick. We choose books four months in advance. Since we have members abroad, it gives everyone ample time to get and read the selections.
We play book-related trivia games throughout the month --- the more points you earn, the better your chances of winning the quiz and selecting our next pick. (You have to get a passing score on the quiz, or your extra points don't count.)
Q: What were some of the best discussions or favorite books the group read?
A: Well, there have been some great discussions during these 11 years. We had an unforgettable time talking up our 33rd Cove pick, The Dive From Clausen’s Pier by Ann Packer. Ditto for Intensity by Dean Koontz. Life Support and The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen. All made for dynamite discussions!
Our favorite reads to date are: The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck, The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, These Is My Words by Nancy E. Turner, Water For Elephants by Sara Gruen, Marley & Me by John Grogan, The Pact by Jodi Picoult, The Magic of Ordinary Days by Ann Howard Creel, Tending Roses by Lisa Wingate, and The Third Heiress by Brenda Joyce.
Q: How do you keep things fun?
A: As mentioned before, members LOVE the points concept --- playing the pop trivia games. We also have book-related brain teasers for points, Cove spotlight questions to spark discussion in between Picks, monthly Bonus Books members can read for extra points towards the quiz, TBR and 1001 Books to Read Before You Die potlucks, reading challenges, etc. We have lots of fun, engaging activities!
We have three moderators who share the load, so it doesn't get too overwhelming.
Q: What advice would you give to other reading groups?
A: For long-term success, your group must have light guidelines regarding participation, which are enforced. If very few members actually read and participate in the group picks, the group dissolves very quickly. Grow and evolve by always finding ways to keep things fresh and exciting.
Q: Do you have any horror stories, amusing anecdotes, or other special tales to tell?
A: Well, after 11 years, yes, there has been some drama. But we nip trouble in the bud pretty quickly to keep the Cove an enjoyable place for sharing our addiction to books!
Q: Is there anything else unique or noteworthy about your group that you would like to share?
A: Well, we have a great foundation as shared above, but we're also looking toward the future. We had our First Annual Cove Retreat in March of last year at Epcot Center in Orlando, Florida.
We're on Facebook and Twitter. We interview Cove pick authors and host chats with them in our website's chat room. We also play trivia live in the chat room from time to time.
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