Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Book Club Exchange - Suey of It's All About Books

I'd like to welcome Suey of the blog It's All About Books to Book Club Exchange, a new (and hopefully) regular feature on Booking Mama which highlights anything and everything book club-related! I am so glad that Suey found time to write this wonderful essay about her book club. I always find it so interesting to see how other book clubs operate!

The Third Thursday Book Club

Book club is something I look forward to every month. I enjoy every aspect of it. Figuring out what books to read, talking about the books, researching the books and their authors, and hosting the meetings themselves; it's all a blast. That being said though, even after so many years of doing it, every month I get nervous and anxious! I want people to come and have fun and relax and feel comfortable. Every month I hope all those things can be realized.

My book club started about six years ago as a church book club, and I willingly volunteered to head it up. Then, just a couple of months later, we realized that being connected to our church wouldn't work, so it officially became a normal "neighborhood" book club. Happily, I continued to "be in charge." After several years of meeting on the third Thursday of the month, I decided that we should just call ourselves that and we officially became The Third Thursday Book Club. Our book club is a little unique in that we meet every time here at my house.

Our members are made up mostly of moms in the neighborhood, covering all age ranges. A few members who have moved away still come and participate as often as they can. We have about ten "regulars" and another ten that are on my email list who like to know what we are reading, but don't actually participate in the meetings. For us, there's no such thing as "problem" members. We all like different things, and have different opinions but that's what I love about the whole book club experience. It's a very laid back book club with no "rules" except to have fun.

We've read all kinds of books, but stick mostly to fiction. We like to read whatever is currently popular like Twilight or The Hunger Games, but we also like to do some classics like Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, and Jane Austen books. We also enjoy supporting our local authors like Brandon Sanderson and Shannon Hale. Some non-fiction we've read include Blink by Malcolm Gladwell and Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand.

Our best discussion happened just this last week when we talked about The Kite Runner and found out that we covered the whole range from "I hated it" to "I loved it!" It's so interesting to get such mixed reactions to a book and I love the discussion that it creates. Another book that we had a blast discussing was Life of Pi. What fun that was! The worst book we read was by far The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. It was WAY too long and WAY too detailed in teeny tiny print that gave us all headaches. I think we all tried, but no one finished (maybe one? I can't remember!) Also, no one really liked Love in the Time of Cholera... we just didn't get it.

Our selections are often based on what's available from the library's book club set selections. We have two libraries that check out whole sets to book clubs and they have hundreds of titles available. It's wonderful! Along with the books, they provide a little booklet that gives all sorts of information on the author and lots of discussion questions. But if we want to read something not in a set, we don't let that stop us and we still go for it. In the past, our method of selection has been a little haphazard, but lately, we've been getting a little more organized. We'll talk about several books at our opening meeting in September with everyone making suggestions. Then I'll make a list and send out an email with those books along with a little description. Everyone then votes on three books. I take the top votes to make up our schedule for that next year. We plan a year in advance so we can get those book club sets reserved.

In the summer we take a break, but give ourselves a summer assignment. One time we picked an author and all read two or three books by that author. One time we decided to do a biography of our choice. This past summer, we chose a series to read.

Of course, food is a big part of our gatherings. Always candy usually chocolate, and some dessert of some kind. I haven't been creative enough to match the food to the theme of the book... except for this past time when I made naan for our Kite Runner discussion. At our Christmas meeting, everyone brings a small treat to share and it makes it feel a little more like a party.

I love book club! We're going on our sixth year now and still, I never get sick of planning, organizing and discussing. Hopefully those that come every month feel the same way and we'll continue on for many years to come.

Suey is a mom of four kids, two boys and two girls, ages 20 to 10. She works in the administrative office of the local library just 12 hours a week, which she loves. When she's not reading or blogging, she's probably watching TV, hauling kids around, listening to Josh Groban, thinking about quilting or scrapbooking, and worrying about her messy house! She's been blogging at It's All About Books for two and half years.

A huge thanks to Suey for sharing some of her book club experiences with all of us. I don't know about you, but I love reading about other book clubs! Although, I have to admit that I sure am glad that my book club meets at a different member's house each month. I honestly don't know how Suey does it!

If you are interested in participating in a future Book Club Exchange, please contact me at bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com.


Nicole (Linus's Blanket) said...

Food and wine are an important part of my book club. It's finny that you mention THE KITE RUNNER. I would have thought it would have generated lots of discussion with my group as well, but I think everyone was so unified in their horror of the subject matter that there weren't that many dissenting opinions.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

This sounds so fun. I love reading about the bookclubs that coordinate what they are reading with the food they serve. Yesterday I talked to someone who hosted her group for The Guernsey Literary Society and she didn't want to try potato peel pie so instead, in honor of the roast pig mentioned, she served ham sandwiches! Book clubs bring out one's creativity! :--)

bermudaonion said...

It would be wonderful to belong to a book club that lasts through the years like that, but I would stress if I had to host it every month!

Caroline Starr Rose said...

So fun to read about your book club after following your blog for the last month.

I'm loving these book club posts! Keep it up!

Beth F said...

My local library also has book club sets -- it's such a great resource.

Jo-Jo said...

The Kite Runner was definitely one of our favorites also. I think it's great that you can get complete sets of books from your library...here's to many more years with your book club!

Suey said...

I wish we could do more with the food/book connection. I hope to try a little harder with that.

I love hosting every month and once I asked everyone if they wanted to start taking turns and they said.... eh... not really! So we just kept things how they were. Seems to work.

Heather J. said...

hmm, I wonder if it would be possible to plan a road trip where I get to visit all my blogging buddies' book clubs - Suey's would be high on the list!

Serena said...

I love Suey and I think her book club sounds great. I love that they have a group of core members who participate in meetings a group that like to be informed about what the group is reading.

Natasha @ Maw Books said...

Our book club was also connected with our church for about a year and then we also discovered that it was not working AT ALL. Like you, we became a neighborhood book club so I know what you're talking about. Great club!

Kim said...

I want to join your book club, Suey! Maybe someday I will have the guts and resources to start a real life club of my own.

Amused said...

Your book club sounds great! I love that you pick both modern fiction and classics!

Amused said...

Your book club sounds great! I love that you pick both modern fiction and classics!

Brenda said...

I love the sound of your club! Right now, ours is fairly unorganized. We each take a turn hosting and when it's our turn to host, we get to choose the book. So far it has been working fine but I can see how that might create problems.

Great post, Suey!

Love the blog too, Booking Mama!