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January 11, 2010

Advice for New Book Clubs, Part 3

Posted by webmaster
Book club members offer advice on formulating a game plan, stimulating discussion by rating reading selections, why you should check your ego at the door and much more.

Previous Posts:
Advice for New Book Clubs
Advice for New Book Clubs, Part 2

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"I belong to Words and Wine Book Club in Liberty Lake, Washington, with about 10 people showing up for each meeting. One of the things that really keeps our discussion going is: after everyone seems to be about talked out, have each member present rate the book. We rate on a scale of 1 to 10. Sometimes it seems like there's nothing to talk about, but when people start giving their opinions about why they rated the book the way they did, it sometimes opens up the discussion again and keeps it going a while longer. I even tell people to e-mail me their rating if they can't make it to the meeting and read those at the meeting, too. We keep a log of all the books we have read and the average rating." ---Bea Carroll

No Egos (or Side Conversations) Allowed
"Check your ego at the door, keep your heart and mind open and just take in everything the other members have to share with you. We are a group of nine women and have become very close and dear friends. When we discuss a book, there is not an ego in the room. It's a great bunch of women who respect each others' opinions and love to learn where each other is coming from. There never has been a moment where any one person was 'right' or 'wrong.' Enjoy your club. I look forward to our meetings every month. And oh, yes. No talking over each other and no side conversations. Everyone wants to hear what you have to say." ---Judy Silver

Invite Authors to Offer Insight
"Whenever we can, we invite an author of our books to call in. We recently talked to Kathryn Stockett when we discussed The Help. Our group is in Birmingham, Alabama, but comprises a number of members from all over the country. Our northeasterners and midwesterners were skeptical about the accuracy of the novel until some of our locals described their own experiences.

Both groups select books by consensus or voting, four to six months at a time. Any longer and we miss new issues, any shorter and we are discussing selections every meeting rather than the current book. We try to stick to books available in paperback for cost reasons." ---Becki Reardon

Focus on the Discussion
"We've been meeting for three years, and no one wants to miss a gathering. The discussion questions are always the focus of our meeting. The biggest disappointment that I hear from people in other book clubs is, 'We never even discussed the book.' Based on this, my suggestion would be to ALWAYS use your time for the book discussion. Visiting can be done at another time. The hostess is responsible for starting the discussion. We go around the circle and discuss each question in order. We have come to know and respect and care deeply for one another because of what the discussions reveal about one another." --- MaryAnn Jasken

Introduce Yourselves...and Make a Game Plan
"My book group has been meeting for six years, but when we get new members we try to introduce ourselves and what we like to read. I would recommend to a new group to get the 'particulars' out of the way such as leadership responsibilities, who will lead, how the books will be selected and any particular genre. Also where the meetings will be held and refreshments, as well as how the books will be obtained: order in bulk, individual purchase or library. Once you have a solid game plan, I think the group will flow easily." --- Heather James

Follow the Leader
"It is best to have a leader, but not one who thinks they have to do all the talking. We always let each person say what they think about the book, then go on to the information we receive from our regional library about the book, then the discussion guide. We meet in a library for an hour. It depends, I am sure, if you meet in a home or restaurant type of place. Be friendly, and do not expect everyone to like the book. In fact, when they don't, you get a better discussion.

Discussion about the book and the author are what it is all about. Our group has been going for more than 30 years. One person started out being the leader, but now we rotate. It is surely a fun thing to do." --- Coral Harrison