Guest Post: In Praise of Book Clubs, Volume 2

 Tara from the lovely blog Books and Cooks writes about her book club and what makes it special.

April 5, 2001. I remember it well. This was the first official meeting of  my bookclub. The book discussed was The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende and we all wondered if the girl’s hair was really green or if it was meant to represent something else. We sat around the living room, somewhat awkwardly, and finally someone said, ‘maybe we should go around and say whether or not we liked the book.’ Thus began our journey together that continues today. We still go around the circle but it’s less of a yes or no question and more of a platform to speak your mind, uninterrupted.

Our bookclub is about the books, but those books are also the medium that brings together a diverse group of women who might not otherwise have much in common. Now in our eighth year together, we have experienced much of life together. Breakups and marriages. Pregnancy, birth, as well as infertility and miscarriage. Job changes, house changes and now divorce. It could in fact be a book in itself. But through it all, we meet once a month (except for December and January) to discuss a book and our lives. In this way we have come to know and respect one another, to be able to predict how each other will respond to the books discussed, and to eat fantastic desserts.

There are things about my bookclub that I find challenging. No one else reads as much as I do, so many of the books chosen I’ve already read. Often books are chosen that don’t seem terribly ‘discussion worthy’. Sometimes I wish our books were more literary or our discussions more serious. But, it is obvious to me that our club is more than a sum of it’s parts, that the fact that we are discussing is sometimes more important than what we are discussing.

Our bookclub has evolved over the years. We are now six, including 4 original members. Over the years, we’ve had guests who are usually friends of members. We have found it humorous that people think we’re intimidating because we actually read and discuss books. We have loads of traditions, from how we select books, to how we discuss them. One of the best things we’ve done is start a journal. Occasionally we read aloud from past meetings and literally cry from laughter at the various quotes people have jotted down. I personally have stated “This might be the worst book we’ve ever read” several times. We celebrated our five year anniversary by going to a fancy steak restaurant and answered 5 questions that I came up with including favorite and least favorite books. Some of our best discussions have resulted from books that people greatly disliked, some of our worst from books that we all adored. We just hope to keep on having discussions for many years to come.

Blogger Bio:  Tara met her husband D in 1997 when they were both living the post-college single life in Chicago.  They moved to the Twin Cities, married in 2000, and have a six year old daughter.  Tara began writing her blog Books and Cooks in December 2006 after discovering the vast book blogging community.  When she’s not reading or in the kitchen, Tara works part-time as a pharmacist.

***Would you like to share about your book club here at Books on the Brain?  If so, leave a comment and I will get in touch with you about a guest post!

For previous volumes of In Praise of Book Clubs, click HERE

For more info on starting your own book club, click HERE

For fun ways to make your book club better, click HERE

To win a copy of Matrimony by Joshua Henkin, click HERE by May 15th.  Josh would be happy to do an author chat with your book club!

To win a copy of The Next Thing On My List by Jill Smolinski, click HERE by May 15. You can contact Jill at her website about setting up an author chat.

8 Responses

  1. Another fantastic volume. I especially like the idea of keeping a journal.

  2. Oh, I love the idea of keeping a journal with quotes from previous meetings!

  3. I love the journal idea too! I love that Tara stated more than once that “this might be the worst book we’ve ever read.” lol.

  4. Very cool! Book clubs sound like something I would thoroughly enjoy; alas, I am not a member of one (sorry, Lisa, or else I would have loved to guest post). We don’t really have many around here, but my friend and I said jokingly the other day that we should start our own, just the two of us, and I’m sure we each have another friend or two that would be interested, so maybe it’s a book club in the making! : )

  5. Ah, this is great! It’s so funny because in our book group I think the books we greatly dislike are the ones that generate the most discussion too.

  6. […] on Guest Post: In Praise of Book…michelle on Jill Smolinski, Author Intervi…iliana on Guest Post: In Praise of Book …julia on Jill Smolinski, Author Intervi…lyndsey on Guest Post: In Praise of Book […]

  7. I love the journal idea too. Great post, Tara!

    Lyndsey, you and your friend could easily start your own! Knowing how much you love books, I’m sure you’d really enjoy it.

    Thanks for the comments.

  8. Thanks everyone for reading! I definitely recommend the journal. It can be a chore doing it, but the rewards are bountiful.

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