Guest Post: In Praise of Book Clubs, Volume 3




In this 3rd installment of my series, In Praise of Book Clubs, Gayle from the awesome blog Every Day I Write The Book talks about the book clubs she’s been in, and why she started her own online.

I’ve been in a bunch of book clubs in my life, some more successful than others. I think back very fondly on two of them. They were each made up of 4 women (different groups of women), and we met about every 5-6 weeks at a restaurant for dinner. We’d spend about half the time just catching up, and the other half “talking about the book.” I liked the book clubs as much for the companionship as the book discussions, which were substantive and thorough. It was rare that one of us didn’t finish the book, and the process for choosing the next book was informal and without rancor.

The first book club, which survived a wedding and the birth of at least three kids, fell apart when it was just too difficult for us to find times that worked. The other three women are married to male friends of mine from college, and after a while we just sort of dissolved. No drama, no final meeting… we just faded away as a book club, though we are all still friends.

The second book club, made up of three girlfriends, also faded away sometime after I had my twin girls. We briefly revived it a year or two later, adding some new faces, but it didn’t work – at least for me. I didn’t really like the books we chose to read, and I wasn’t comfortable enough with the group to veto the picks and insert my own in their place. After this last book club incarnation, I realized why I couldn’t be in a traditional book club anymore: I need to pick the books, and I need to read them on my own time.

That may sound self-centered and a little spoiled. I agree, it is! That’s who I am, and I have come to accept it. I am a Book Tyrant.

But at least I have done something constructive with my autocratic tendencies. Almost two years ago, I launched a book blog, Everyday I Write The Book, in which I review the books I read and link to reviews of other books that look interesting to me, even if I will never get around to reading them. I love that the blog is mine, that it only features books that *I* choose. And I am continually amazed and grateful that other people like to read my blog. No one’s forcing them to subscribe or comment, right? (Well, maybe some of my readers feel obligated to stick around because they’re related to me.)

Every other month or so, I hold an online book club on the blog. So far, publishers have generously sent review copies to anyone who wanted to participate, and we’ve read some excellent books, with one more underway as I write this. The discussions have been active. I love that people can read and comment on their own schedule, and that no one feels pressure to join or finish by a particular date. Hearing new perspectives from people I don’t know is also very rewarding. Finally, I’ve been fortunate to have gotten the authors of the books to answer questions – something I never anticipated when I launched the blog. I even correspond with some of the authors I’ve featured on the blog, and they recognize me when I come to their readings. Best of all, I pick the books! All of them!

Yes, I am a Book Tyrant, but I seem to have found a venue and a readership that doesn’t mind. For those, I am very thankful.

Gayle Weiswasser

Blogger Bio: Gayle lives with her husband and two daughters in Washington, DC. She reads whenever she can find time, and started her blog in July 2006.

***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 other 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.

Booking Through Thursday

Read with Abandon? October 25, 2007

I hope I did this right. It’s my first time doing a meme. Here goes:

btt button

Today’s suggestion is from Cereal Box Reader

I would enjoy reading a meme about people’s abandoned books. The books that you start but don’t finish say as much about you as the ones you actually read, sometimes because of the books themselves or because of the circumstances that prevent you from finishing. So . . . what books have you abandoned and why?

I’ve abandoned a few books this year.  Here is my list:

1. Bel Canto by Anne Patchett

I can’t for the life of me figure out what anyone sees in this book. I was bored to tears. Every other line is devoted to a flowery description of the central character’s fabulous voice. I get it! She’s amazing! No need to pound me over the head with that fact! I gave it 200 pages to do something for me, and it didn’t.

2. Harvesting the Heart by Jodi Picoult

Now this is an author I like. My Sister’s Keeper was terrific. But there were just too many coincidental things happening here to make it even remotely believable. I didn’t care about the characters. I lost interest and never went back to it.

3. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers

This is a classic, written in 1940, and chosen by Oprah for her Book Club. Lots of prose, not plot driven at all. I tried to like it. I may go back to it. Probably not.

4. When Crickets Cry by Charles Martin

Very sappy and predictable. Too manipulative. Would probably do well on the Lifetime channel.

5. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn-

I know, I know. I will give it another try.