In this installment of In Praise of Book Clubs, we hear from Karen of Planet Books fame. Karen is an American living in Okinawa, Japan. Here she writes about her attempts at a real life book club, and why she resorted to the online variety.
I started Planet Books in October of 2007 as a way to connect with other readers from all over the planet (hence the name). At the time I also had a “real-life” book club I had named Lit & The Island. I started this group by inviting girlfriends that I had gotten to know over the previous few months. Some of them knew each other but for the most part this was their first meeting. There were never more than ten of us in the group which worked out since only a few would attend the monthly book discussion and dinner out at a restaurant. This way we always had at least four people attend the meeting each month. I really enjoyed listening (I wasn’t big on discussion participation at the time) to what each lady took from the book and if the ideas were similar to my own or completely new and different.
My favorite meetings were when we would vote for the upcoming books. We selected three to four months of books at a time because living in Japan made it difficult to just go to the store and get our books (the PX & BX selections suck for the most part). Lining up our reading selections for the next few months made it easier to just place an order from your favorite book store’s web site and have them at your fingertips after waiting a week to two weeks for their arrival. Because of this the book nominations were endless. I tended to go a little overboard and always nominated at least nine or ten books each time. I liked the opportunity to learn about new books from everyone’s nominations. We would go around the table and each person had the opportunity to sell us on their books. Then we would each get a slip of paper and write down our top three or four books, depending on how many books we needed at the time. I would tally the most popular title and so on and we would get our titles. There of course were the occasional duds, but for the most part the books we read were enjoyable and inspired lively discussions. After two years, schedules, kids for some, and life for all got in the way and we stopped meeting. Therefore, Planet Books began to fulfill my need for a book club.
Planet Books started strictly as a book blog but has now morphed into a way for me to discuss not only books but music, baking and everyday topics that catch the attention of my inner blogger. You’ll find everything on Planet Books from what book I’m reading or which magazine is taking me away from reading books for the moment, to “Today’s Favorite Song” feature and what recipe I’ve baked this week.
I love to receive people’s comments too. I have enjoyed the relationships that have developed due to my participation in the blogosphere. Bottom line, Planet Books is a fun way to put my voice out into the universe and connect with people I only know through words on the screen, be it on their own blogs or their comments on mine. This is my fourth attempt at blogging and I’m happy to say that I have found the best place and blog format for what I want to do. I always find excitement in how many hits Planet Books gets each day and the idea that strangers from all over might be learning about a new book, recipe or song because I wrote about it on my blog.
Blogger Bio: Karen is currently living with her hubby of four years and their five year old Cocker Spaniel, Rocky, in Okinawa, Japan. She hails from the Washington D.C. Metro Area, Silver Spring, MD to be specific but has also lived in Denver, CO and Memphis, TN. She has enjoyed living in Okinawa for the last three years and looks forward to the adventures there are to be had during her last year on the Island before returning to who-knows-where in the U.S. If she isn’t reading, listening to music, sleeping, driving around, lunching, watching t.v., surfing the net or baking you can find (or hear) her singing in the house, her car or at Karaoke on Friday nights.
***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
For a chance to win Springtime on Mars by Susan Woodring, click HERE and leave a comment by June 6.
Filed under: blogs, book clubs, books, internet, Life, reading, Reading Groups, Relationships Tagged: | book club, book clubs, book groups, books, in praise of book clubs, online book clubs, reading, Reading Groups