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.