In Praise of Book Clubs, Volume 23

The very patient and wonderful Michele from the fabulous blog Michele – One L talks about her book group, the LOLAs, in this 23rd volume of In Praise of Book Clubs.   I apologize to Michele and all the LOLAs for the long delay in posting this terrific entry!

I have loved to read since I was little and was excited to be invited to join a group of women reading and talking about books!  This was seven years ago and at that time I hadn’t really heard of book clubs other than what Oprah was doing. What fun to think about reading the same book and talking about it with other women! 

Ladies on Literary Adventures, otherwise known as LOLAs, is our book club.  It started in April, 2001 and I joined in December, 2001.  We started out as an off-shoot moms group and have had up to 25 folks on the list. While we don’t limit our membership to moms, it seems that the majority of folks we know that love to read are also moms.  We currently have 11 active members and all are quite faithful about reading and coming to the meetings. 

The Literary: As you can imagine, we’ve read a lot of books over the years. We’ve read fiction, memoirs, and self-help (not my favorite – I usually can’t even finish them). Books range from fluffy chick lit to serious subjects. Some of the books that stand out to me: Protecting the Gift by Gavin de Becker – I never would have read this book on my own but it has shaped my ideas and actions regarding my children and their safety;

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier  – another one I would not have picked out myself, I’m not much of a classics reader, but thoroughly enjoyed;

These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner – one of my favorite books of all time; and

Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons by Lorna Landvik – another of my all-time favorites.

You can see all the books we’ve read at Library Thing HERE.

There are a lot of books that I’ve read because of LOLAs that I may not have searched out on my own. I was a tried and true mystery/thriller fan and would never consider anything else. But I’ve grown to love many other genres because of just one book suggested by the ladies. It’s wonderful. 

The Adventures: We’ve talked to a lot of authors!  We’ve talked with Caroline Leavitt twice! She was our first – her book Coming Back to Me was awesome and based partly on her own life! Caroline was great fun to talk to and is a wonderful author. The second time we chatted was about Girls in Trouble.   We talked with Adriana Trigiani about Big Stone Gap and Big Cherry Holler.  Jennifer Haigh, author of Baker Towers, was also fun to talk with. And it was interesting to talk to Lisa Tucker – I just love all her books, with The Song Reader being the best. We talked to Victoria Zackheim, author of The Bone Weaver.  Two more are Lorna Landvik for Oh My Stars and Sarah Bird, author of The Mommy Club

It always feels so surreal to talk with the authors of books we’ve just read, to hear what they think of the books, their characters. It puts such a different spin on the book, making it come alive in my imagination even more. I was amazed to learn from each one of them that their characters are very real to them. Not in a ‘crazy I hear voices way’, but, in my engineering mind, as close to that as you can get without being crazy. LOL  I am fascinated to learn of the writing process and how different it is from what I would have imagined.  

Our other adventures would be our meals – we either eat out or bring appetizers to a home. We’ve discussed the theme idea where we eat foods relating to the book, but the closest we’ve gotten to that is eating at a Chinese restaurant when we were discussing Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

The best part of LOLAs is, of course, the Ladies!  I’ve made great friends that enjoy reading as much as I do! During our meetings, the book discussion sometimes is a large part of the night. I usually learn quite a bit about myself and other points of view/thought from these discussions. Other times the book discussion is a very small part of the evening. But either way we make sure we laugh and talk with each other, finding out about their families, children, jobs, life.  

We are truly Ladies on Literary Adventures and it’s tons of fun!

***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 check out my current giveaway, click HERE

Guest Post: In Praise of Book Clubs, Vol. 11

Ti from Book Chatter and Other Stuff talks about her love affair with books, and the book club she discovered at the public library 10 years ago, in this 11th edition of In Praise of Book Clubs.

I love books. I love their covers. I love the way they smell. I love the words displayed between their covers. Opening up a good book is like “coming home”. For that reason, I found myself increasingly frustrated that none of my friends were readers.  I’d finish a book and not have anyone to discuss it with. I thought about starting my own club, but having never been in a book club at all, I thought maybe I should just look for one that was already established and then go from there. 

The city I live in has a local magazine that is published monthly.  The calendar section had an entry for a Library Book Group hosted by the public library. I was pregnant with my first child and thought it would be a great way to meet people and support the library at the same time. So I gave it a shot. 

The group consisted of five ladies of various ages and backgrounds. They chose their books three months ahead and the book that we discussed on my first night was Lady Chatterley’s Lover, by D.H. Lawrence. I knew from that very first meeting that I had found what I was looking for. 

Nearly ten years later our group is still going strong. If there is a book that has been made into a movie, we sometimes have special outings so we can discuss both.  Sure, there was one time when I showed up for a viewing of the movie (Lolita) and I was the only one there, but it provided months and months of discussion afterward! We’ve also had holiday meetings of the potluck variety and special brunches to mix it up a bit. I think the social gatherings allow us to discuss all aspects of the book and make it fun at the same time. Our leader does a wonderful job of “keeping it fresh”. 

Through the years we’ve made some changes too. Since we’re hosted by the library, we had a problem with “floaters” who came to one meeting, suggested a book for next time and then never came back again. Don’t you hate that? To remedy that, we moved to a yearly selection process. We have a special book selection meeting in January and we all make a pitch as to what books we want to read for the year. At the end of the evening, we take a vote and the final list is shared with all members and posted for the public. We look forward to this meeting each year, and because you know what you are reading during any given month, you can plan your reading time accordingly. This has proven to be a real time saver for us. 

I am so glad that I attended that first meeting over ten years ago. I discovered a group of people that enjoy reading as much as I do and their recommendations have prompted me to read books that I never would have picked up on my own. If you are looking for a book group and do not know where to start, start with your local library. You never know what you may find!

In case you’re interested, here is what my group selected for 2008:

Jan – Star of the Sea, by Joseph O’Connor

Feb – What is the What, by Dave Eggers

Mar – I, Mona Lisa, by Jeanne Kalogridis

Apr – Banker to the Poor, Muhammad Yunus

May – A Long Way Gone, by Ishmael Beah

Jun – Madame Bovary, by Gustave Flaubert

Jul – The Unknown Terrorist, by Richard Flanagan

Aug – Special Topics in Calamity Physics, by Marisha Pessl

Sep – Mister Pip, by Lloyd Jones

Oct – The Meaning of Night: A Confession, by Michael Cox

Nov – Infidel, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Dec – The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai

Blogger Bio: Ti lives in Southern California with her husband and two kids. She works full time and is very busy but tries to read whenever she can.  She has been blogging at Book Chatter and Other Stuff since February 2008 and hits the big “Four O” this September. 

***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.

Guest Post: In Praise of Book Clubs, Vol. 10

Our 10th contributor to the series In Praise of Book Clubs is Jen from Devourer of Books, who happens to be having a big contest in anticipation of her 100th post on her blog.  Here she talks about her unique book club, in which they talk, and drink, and talk about what they drink.  They talk about books too, eventually!

Our book club is special.  I understand that many book clubs have, as a rule, alcoholic beverages to facilitate discussion.  At our book club, however, the alcohol is part of the discussion.

Perhaps I should back up to how our book club began.  My good friend Kristy, and her roommate Kelly, decided that they were not really reading as much as they would like, and they wanted an incentive to read more.  They decided that they would invite girlfriends from different parts of their lives, and invite those girls to invite some girlfriends so that, in addition to being exposed to more books, they would also make some new friends. 

I’m not quite sure how the additional component of our book club came to be.  Perhaps Kristy and Kelly worried that even a no-pressure book club might not always inspire regular attendance, perhaps they just thought it would be fun.  Somehow, in addition to being a book club, we became a wine club as well.

Our format is simple.  Each month, we focus on one book and one varietal of wine.  Our first order of business is to read and learn about the wine, and do a tasting of all the wines.  Each girl brings a bottle of the varietal, so we can compare and contrast, try to taste the differences of regions, etc. 

Once we have tasted all of the wines, we begin to discuss our book.  We never seem to have any pre-set questions for discussion.  In many book clubs that can be a problem, stymieing conversation, but not after you have just tasted 6 different bottles of wine! 

The format actually works very well because, not only are we loosened up for the book discussion, we usually take long enough talking about the book and various other things at the end of the night that, by the time you are ready to go home, you have sobered up from all of the wine and are capable of driving. 

I adore our book club, and wouldn’t change it for the world. 

Blogger Bio: Jen lives in the Chicago suburbs with her fiancé and is busy getting ready for her wedding in June.  She works for the denominational offices of her church, but would love to review or blog professionally one day.  Her blog, Devourerofbooks, has only existed since the end of February this year, but she is being contacted for blog tours and book reviews. 

***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.

Guest Post: In Praise of Book Clubs, Vol. 9

In this 9th edition of In Praise of Book Clubs, Becca from The Inside Cover talks about her book club, where some months they drink more wine then read, but no matter what they have a ‘ton of fun’. This month her online book club is reading Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks.

When I was in college I stopped reading “fun books” because I was so laden with school assignments, not to mention the three jobs I was working to pay my tuition. Toward the end it really started to gnaw at me that I wasn’t enjoying reading anymore, especially considering I’d always been a huge book-aholic. So I decided to start a book club – and I asked everybody I knew to join in. The book we chose for our first meeting was “Life of Pi.” We never did actually meet even though I saw a bunch of the girls walking around with the book for a while. The problem was none of us were really into the book. And most of us weren’t that close of friends.

A year later, I decided to try again with some of my closer friends. Most of them aren’t really readers, but for us it was an excuse to get together at least once a month for a gossip session and some wine. Our college years were winding down and we were seeing each other less and less often as we began to work “real” jobs and worry about life and rents and mortgages. So in January 2006 we had our first book club meeting, in which we discussed The Secret Life of Bees. To date, this is the only book we’ve discussed with any amount of seriousness, having used the “book club guide” in the back of the book for discussion questions.

As our book club grew and became a monthly ritual, we didn’t want anyone to feel unwelcome for not having read the book, so we sort of have this unwritten rule that as long as you bring some wine and good gossip, you’ll be forgiven for not reading the book. We go in circles – some months nearly everyone has read the books, and some months there is an abundance of wine at the meeting. I guess we still haven’t gotten to a level where we all know which books everyone would read. No matter what though, we have a ton of fun, and our book club has kept us close even though we live farther away than any of us would like.

In the meantime, I’ve taken part in some other book clubs and have had wonderful book discussions with more serious readers. While living in Paris last year, I joined meetin.org and took part in their monthly book club. It gave me an opportunity to read a number of books I wouldn’t have chosen on my own and opened my mind to new genres. And, more recently, I’ve started my own online book club over at The Inside Cover and I plan to take part in my local library’s “Banned Books” book club. When you like to read, you can never be a part of too many book clubs.

Blogger Bio: Rebecca lives in Sacramento, California, where she works as a freelance journalist and lives with her boyfriend of two years. She loves flip flops, traveling, being outdoors, and spending time with her friends. Although she has been blogging since 2005, her book blog (The Inside Cover) didn’t come on the scene until early this year. Rebecca is a huge fan of travel essays and memoirs, but will read just about anything she can get her hands on.

***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.