Guest Post: In Praise of Book Clubs, Vol. 14

For this 14th volume of In Praise of  Book Clubs, the lovely and newly engaged Beastmomma talks about what she misses about being in a face to face book club.

Missing Book Clubs by Beastmomma

As I started reading the various In Praise of Book Club volumes, my nostalgia for the in-person book clubs I have been part of increased.  Prior to Seattle, I have been a member of a book club in every city I lived in since graduating college.  They have ranged in size, format, and genre focus.  

I joined my first book club when I was in New Orleans finishing my master’s program.  My course load was lighter since it was my last semester, so I had more time to read for pleasure.  There were only four members.  We only read two books, Poisonwood Bible and White Teeth, but we met every week.  We discussed the books a few chapters at a time.  The discussion included our predictions of what would happen next and if we were surprised with the turn of events since our last session.  Of course, a home cooked meal every week was an added bonus. 

After I graduated, I moved to Atlanta and got in touch with H.  In addition to becoming fast friends, we decided to start a book club.  The monthly sessions had a host who provided dinner and a facilitator who lead discussion.  The facilitator also nominated four books— two fiction and two non-fiction for the next month’s read.  The size of the group fluctuated.  When I left Atlanta, H and I turned the reigns over to G-love who has done an amazing job.   I still get e-mails about meetings and there is a webpage for members to view past reading nominations and selections.  When I visit Atlanta this summer, I am actually going to be a guest facilitator for which I am VERY excited! 

Because I had such a great experience in Atlanta, I decided to start a book club in Durham.  Of all the book clubs I have joined, this one had the best title: Books, Brunch, and Conversation (BBC).  The hardest part of starting this book club was finding people who were interested in joining.  After gathering a good number of people, we held our first meeting. The book club was the middle ground between the NOLA book club and the Atlanta book club because we met monthly but did not have a formal facilitator or selection process. We even incorporated an Easter basket exchange into the discussion. The size of the club varied with some sessions having only two participants.  Even though out attendance was sometimes small, the quality of the food and discussion stayed high.  

When I moved to Seattle, I was not sure if I would have time for a book club while in law school.  In the midst of the stress of law school, I began to feel very homesick and lost. I could not seem to get the hang of school and wanted to do things that reminded me of home.  I found a book club through one of my classmates. I went to one session, but shortly after that meeting the club faded.  Since then, I have joined an online book club, the Sunday Salon, and taken part in reading challenges.  My reading is much slower than other participants, but it is still fun to at least be a spectator in the process. While those are good ways to feel connected to an outside community, I miss the in-person book club experience. 

As I was writing this piece, I tried to figure out how I could incorporate the in-person book club into my law school life in a way that was not overwhelming.  When I return to Seattle in the fall, I am (possibly) going to start a short story club.  Each month, we will just discuss one short story.  One story a month feels easier to deal with than the pressure of an entire book; right now, I have two people interested. Even if we just meet a few times, I am hoping that I can get my book club fix! 

Blogger Bio:  After living in Maryland, Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina, Beastmomma moved to Washington to attend law school in Seattle. In exchange for getting married, she will be moving to New England after graduation. This summer, she is looking forward to returning to the East Coast for an internship and to crank out wedding planning. In the three sections of her blog, she discusses books (on the shelf section), movies (on the screen section), and everything else (in the thoughts section).

***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.

For a chance to win The Fires by Alan Cheuse, click HERE and leave a comment by June 6.

7 Responses

  1. Awesome how you are like the Johnny Appleseed of book clubs, starting new ones everywhere you live!

    I love reading short stories. If you do start one for short stories, please post your choices on Beastmomma so I can follow along.

  2. The short story idea sounds like a good one, especially with your hectic schedule. I am enjoying reading the different book club stories. I have only ever participated in online book groups, mostly through Yahoo.

  3. Wow – you have lived a lot of interesting places and it looks like it only continues! I have had a hard time meeting enough people in New England who are interested in a club – too many overcommitment fears. So this online book community has been great. Wonderful POST!

  4. Hey Beastmomma!! What a great guest post! I LOVE the pic! I am so impressed with your drive and dedication to reading wherever you go. I agree with my sister’s comment, “You are like the Johnny Appleseed of book clubs..”.

  5. Beastmomma is a reader. We need more of those. She reads widely and wisely and sets an excellent example for the rest of us.

  6. Brilliant idea about the short story club! Part of what is so wonderful about a book club is the camaraderie with the other members. Yes, what you read is important because it’s what brings you together. But the PURPOSE of reading for a book club IS to get together. You’re already on my blogreader so I’ll keep an eye out for news about the new club in the fall. 🙂

  7. I love the idea of meeting weekly and discussing the book as you are reading it. Genius! This would never work with my life now, but I envy you being part of such a group.

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