Thursday, April 1, 2010

Book Club Exchange - Gayle from Everyday I Write the Book

A few weeks ago, I put a call out on Twitter to anyone interested in writing a guest post for my Book Club Exchange feature. I was so excited when Gayle of Everyday I Write the Book responded. For those of you who don't know Gayle and her wonderful blog, you are really missing out on a valuable book resource. One of the great things Gayle does on her blog is run an on-line book club where she and "her friends" discuss different books. I have had the pleasure of participating, and after reading this, I bet a lot of you will signing up for future "meetings."

I used to be a book club person. Back when I had more time, I was in a few different book clubs (though never at the same time). The book clubs I preferred were always small - usually four women. We would get together for dinner every 6 weeks or so, spend half the time catching up, and the other half discussing a book. At the end of dinner, we'd pick a new book, and the cycle would repeat 6 weeks later.

The book clubs were great - except when we chose a book I didn't want to read. Usually, I would come to these dinners armed with a long list of potential books for the following meeting, thus ensuring that the next choice would be one of mine. And I guess my good-natured friends were usually willing to trust my picks, because they rarely challenged them, and they generally enjoyed the books we read.

After I had twins 6 years ago, I gave up on the book club. It was too hard to commit to reading a book every 6 weeks, and even harder to find a good time to get together with my friends. But in the intervening years, I launched a blog instead - Everyday I Write The Book - which allowed me to pursue my interest in reading and fiction on my own terms. I could pick any book I wanted to write about, any book I wanted to read - aah, the freedom! I loved it.

And then, about a year into my blog, a publisher approached me and asked if I would be interested in hosting a book discussion on my blog. The publisher would send out books to as many people who wanted to read it, and I could hold a discussion on my blog, with a subsequent Q&A with the author. The book was Kelly Corrigan's The Middle Place, and the book club was a great success. The book was wonderful, Kelly was incredibly gracious, and the people who participated loved being part of it.

A tradition was born. Since then I have had about 10 online book club "meetings" on my site. We've read very difficult books (We Need To Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver); first novels (The Local News by Miriam Gershow); books I've really liked (Cost, by Roxana Robinson); and books I haven't (Run, by Ann Patchett). The constant theme, though, is that the Everyday I Write The Book book club has managed to attract a devoted following who, without fail, contribute thoughtful comments that always give me a greater appreciation for the book I've picked. I am always grateful to the generosity of the publicists who are willing to work with me, and to the authors who give of their time by participating in Q&As. Some people have participated in every book club, and there are new readers each time.

This book club works for me, and thankfully I have found a community of readers for whom it works as well. Next up on our list - This One Is Mine, by Maria Semple, in April. I can't wait!

Gayle has been blogging at Everyday I Write The Book since 2006. Her blog is slavishly devoted to fiction, with the occasional memoir thrown in. She is not into vampires or sci-fi or YA. When she isn't blogging, she's usually engaged in some other social media, for work or for fun. She recently took a position as Director of Digital Communications for Discovery Communications, where she is helping Discovery with its overall social media strategy. She used to be a lawyer, but doesn't like to talk about that anymore. She has 5 year-old twin girls, who are extremely cute, and lives with her husband in her hometown of Washington DC.

I am so grateful to Gayle for sharing some information about her wonderful on-line book club. If you are interested in participating in a future Book Club Exchange, please contact me at bookingmama(at)gmail(dot)com.


bermudaonion said...

I love Gayle's blog and really do want to participate in her book club one day! It just hasn't worked out for me yet.

Sandy Nawrot said...

I've heard of her, but don't follow her. Guess I'm going to have to fix that! I know exactly how she feels about the book clubs not picking books I like! I tend to be a control freak, and want to do all the picking, but I guess it does force me out of my comfort zone! Great post!

Anna said...

I love Gayle's online book club! I participated in the discussions of Run and We Need to Talk About Kevin. I'm all for reading on our own terms. It's supposed to be fun, right?

Diary of an Eccentric

Mrs. Melissa said...

Love Gayle's book club - I've tried so many ways and failed to try to start a book club of my own and the local library seems to be on a lo-o-o-ng stretch of exclusively historical fiction. My fave book so far was Between Me and April.

Miriam said...

Taking part in Gayle's book club was one of the highlights of my TLC Book Tour. Gayle is a consummate professional and her passion for books is so encouraging to me as a writer. I've been following her blog ever since...

Amused said...

How fascinating! I'll have to check this out! This just might be the book club for me :)

Serena said...

I like the idea of online book clubs, but I can never seem to finish the books. Or if I do, I hate them. I wonder if I need to be accountable to in-person book clubs or maybe I need different online book clubs.