August 2020 Book Club Meeting to commemorate the ratification of the 19th Amendment – Women Celebrating Women.
why join a book club?
- Meet New People. When I joined my local book club over twenty years ago, I was a young mom searching for ways to connect with other women in my town. While some like me are core members from Day One, others have come and gone. Over the years, we’ve supported each other through life milestones. We’ve become close friends, developed through a shared love of reading. More recently, I’ve joined online book clubs and even participate via Zoom with a group of lovely ladies out in Kerman CA from my reading nook in New England.
- Broaden Your Interests and Perspectives. I love to read historical fiction. Yet, through our process of the monthly host picking our titles, I’ve expanded my depth and breadth by reading YA, non-fiction, LGBQT, biographies, cultural fiction, and more. At each meeting, we bring our experiences and opinions to shape and share thoughtful discussions. And, while most of us are in the same general age bracket, I enjoy the perspectives which emerge from our group which has a twenty-year age span of generations.
- Eat and Drink. “Book club without cheese is just English class” – source unknown. While a book discussion steers our evening meetings, great food and drink, alcoholic and non, enhances our gatherings. We try new appetizers and desserts and swap recipes afterwards. Nibbling on a vegan olive tapenade while sipping on an Peruvian wine choice breaks the ice to launch lively discussions.
- Administer Self-Care. Joining a book club became my single, monthly effort in self-care. I carved out time from working full-time with two active boys in school and sports to read at least one book a month and attend one meeting. No hockey rinks, no baseball/lacrosse/baseball/soccer/football fields. Just me, a good book, and a cherished group of friends for three hours a month.
- Up the Ante with a Slice of Fun. From costumed meetings in October to movie-adaption nights to themed food, there are many great ideas to bring a book to life on Pinterest and recipes in The Book Club Cookbook.
Top 100 Choices for Book Clubs
Top 100 Books for a Great Book Club Discussion – developed from a poll I fielded of book clubs across the U.S. I will be updating this list early in 2021. Please add your top picks by taking my five minute survey.
Other Tips & IDeas
ZOOM, Facebook, LogMeIn, Skype Meetings
(APRIL 2020) In the middle of a world-wide pandemic and stay-at-home orders, I’m missing my book club friends as we enter the second month of being unable to meet. However, lucky for all of us, virtual meeting options boomed. I’ve participated in a Zoom meeting with a book club based in the UK and am looking forward to another one with my college’s alumnae group next month.
Recently I solicited tips from a few Facebook groups for active readers on how to host a virtual meeting. Overwhelmingly, the free service offered by Zoom was the preferred method. Others used a more simple approach of an email or text string of discussions.
- Check the Zoom website first and read through info put in place to tighten security measures since the explosion of usage has also increased questions around privacy, etc.
- Test ahead of time to make sure connections are working.
- Have each person make a list of their top opinions before the meeting and send them to the moderator. Circulate via email ahead of time to think about what you want to discuss
- Limit the time or make sure you’re set up for longer 40 minutes. The free Zoom version gives you 40 minutes. To extend your time, have everyone log off and then log back in with the same link; it generally works
- Choose one person to serve as moderator is key to maintain order and make sure everyone gets a chance to speak. A round-robin approach works to make sure everyone who wants to speak gets the opportunity. Have the host pull up the discussion questions on her screen so everyone can see those at the same time.
- Log in a few minutes early.
- Have all attendees mute themselves except for the moderator and raise their hand to comment or pose a question…they have to be recognized by the moderator before un-muting themselves.
- Computers work better than phones.
- Activate the grid view so you can see everyone at once.
- The best audio is if no one in the group uses earbuds and instead uses the computer’s mic.
Connecting with readers is important for authors, especially when book stores and libraries are closed. You can still order Kindle editions, access digital versions through Libby / Overdrive library apps, or check with your local book stores for online ordering and curbside pick ups. In-Person, Zoom and Skype are great ways to connect with authors for any meeting. My group has been fortunate to Skype with Lisa See to discuss Island of Sea Women and to meet her in-person (pre-Covid) at an all-town read author appearance. She was amazing and so gracious with her time at each one.
Author Talk – Janis Robinson Daly. One of my goals when my novel is published is to meet with as many book clubs as possible during a cross-country road trip. If your club is interested in reading my upcoming historical fiction about women doctors in the 1900s, there’s a spot in my book club survey to fill in your information for early consideration.
Author Talk – Ashley Sweeney. For historical fiction fans, I’m happy to recommend Ashley Sweeney and her books, Eliza Waite and/or Answer Creek. Ashley loves to chat with book clubs via Zoom or Skype or in-person, if possible, in the Seattle or Tucson areas. Contact Ashley directly through her website.
Sharing and Caring
- With roots in a local women’s civic group, at my group’s December meeting we collect items identified as in high-demand for our local food pantry. Giving back to our community which brought us together is a simple gesture of thanks.
- From a Facebook post in a reading group, I love this idea: When a member of their group passed away, they all purchased a copy of one of her favorite books and donated them to their library in her name so that other book clubs could read her favorite book with enough copies on hand for an entire group to borrow.
I invite you to follow my blog for book reviews and to follow my journey toward writing my first historical fiction. More information in my Novel Synopsis. You can sign up from this page with the pop-up, or send me a note through the CONTACT page and I can email you an invitation to follow. I’m on social media, too.
I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.