Have you ever been a member of a book club? How did your group choose (to, if you haven’t been, what do you think is the best way to choose) the next book and who would lead discussion?
Do you feel more or less likely to appreciate books if you are obliged to read them for book groups rather than choosing them of your own free will? Does knowing they are going to be read as part of a group affect the reading experience?
I was asked to do a guest post over at BOOKS ON THE BRAIN last month where I did write about this subject.
Yes, I have been a member of a “real life” book club. I ran a book club here on Okinawa for two years and I called it “Lit & The Island”. Pretty catchy huh? Originally it started with just a few of my closest friends and then grew a bit with invitations from other members to their friends. The group was never larger than ten people at a time but rarely did we have full attendance each month at our meetings/dinners. With the plethora of restaurants on this island, we met at a new establishment every month. It was fun while it lasted and we read some very interesting books for the most part. There were some duds though so those meeting consisted of discussions about things other than the book. Actually, there were really only a few times that the book of the month was discussed for longer than twenty minutes. I chalk that up to the fact that some of the members hadn’t seen each other since the last meeting and had a month worth of catching up to do. I was guilty of this bad habit myself too.
The way we would choose the clubs books was to have a nomination/voting night every few months. Living in Okinawa made book buying a little tricky. The multiple base PX’s and BX (Post Exchange & Base Exchange) don’t have the largest book selection so we had to order everything on-line. I think some people were able to find the chosen books at the library once in a while but for the most part it was order the book, wait for it to be shipped, wait for the Military mail to get it here from California and then get it from your post office box on base at the post office. UGGHH!!! Anyway, we would vote for three to four books at a time to make things easier. I would always bring the longest book list of nominations. Each person was then asked to tell the group about the book they wanted people to vote for and why. After everyone had their turn we would write our top three of four (depending on how many months we were filling) and I would tally the books based on vote counts. The most votes was the first book, then on down the line. We read Elizabeth Noble’s “The Reading Group”, Arthur Golden’s “Memoir of a Geisha”, Jeffrey Eugenides’s “Middlesex”, Michael Dorris’s “A Yellow Raft In Blue Water” and many others. These were my favorites of what we read as a group.
For the most part, I enjoyed reading the books we assigned ourselves to read for this club. In the beginning of the clubs existence I would read the book even if I didn’t like it but as time went on and my TBR shelf grew, I was a bit pickier with what I read. If the book wasn’t grasping me in after about a quarter of the way through I wouldn’t stick with it. I would have something to contribute to the discussion with hope that others could clue me in to what happened after I put the book down.
Now I just run this on-line book club which I LOVE! I have a little more control over the nominations and having made the time frame bi-monthly it makes it easier to read other things too. When we move back to the States I may look into joining a “real life” book club again but for now, I am more than happy to know that I am reading a book as part of a group of readers on-line. I don’t regret running and being a part of “Lit & The Island” though. I believe that everything happens for a reason and it was a lovely experience.
Last week I joined a great little on-line group called The Sunday Salon. The Sunday Salon is a virtual reading room where book lovers pledge to set aside time on Sunday’s to read and then create a post on their blog and share about what they read. It’s a great system and I can’t wait to get started. Unfortunately this Sunday was not going to find me participating. I have three books on their way to me in the mail and I haven’t wanted to delve into something else while waiting. The three books are Barbara Walter’s “Audition”, Jodi Picoult’s “Nineteen Minutes”, and the Planet Books reading group selection “Matrimony” by Joshua Jenkins.
If you are wondering what happened to the last book I was reading, “Boomsday”, well I lost interest. I hate it when that happens but when it does there is no climbing out of that hole for me. I think that the topic being so political and the real life Presidential election coverage just was too much for me. I didn’t feel like I was reading for enjoyment as the story continued. It was a good book and I am sure I will re-visit it again in the future, but I needed to put it back on the shelf for the time being.
I hope my order arrives in the early part of this week so I can dig in (I’m especially excited about Barbara Walter’s memoir) and participate in The Sunday Salon next weekend.
I started to read a book from my TBR shelf last night. It’s called “BOOMSDAY” and it’s by humorist and political novelist Christopher Buckley. A few months ago the hubby and I watched the film version of the book “Thank You For Smoking” starring the gorgeous Aaron Eckhart. Great movie! I had picked up “BOOMSDAY” some time last year when it came out at the PX and placed it on my shelf. Well I guess this it’s time I’m meant to read it. I’ve said before that I believe books find you.
So far, so good. I haven’t made too much of a dent yet but it’s caught my attention. I’m still thinking about “Change of Heart” and what I read about in that book which may be why I was attracted to “BOOMSDAY” on my shelf. It’s about a young lady who got screwed out of her dream of attending Yale University because her father invested her college fund into his start-up dot com business. He suggests she join the military because they offer free education when you are done sweating and bleeding for them. She joins the ARMY and finds herself doing PR work for the ARMY in Bosnia. That’s where I’m at so far. I do know that she becomes a Washington spin writer ten years after this whole Army expereince and that is where most of the story (I think) will take place. Her big personal fight (probably due to her father’s success in screwing her so royaly) is about not wanting her generation to have to pay the bill for the Baby-boomer’s Social Security checks.
What are you reading right now? Anything that a previous book brought you to? Maybe a train of thought that you can’t seem to get off quite yet?
A little while ago I was checking out a fellow book blogger’s post over at The Written Word where she posted in response to another blog out there, Booking Through Thursday . I have noticed their button on other book blogs and never thought twice about it, but after reading TWW’s post and checking out the link to BTT’s site I was curious. They post a weekly question related to books on multiple levels and then ask you to blog about it on your own site. This weeks question was intriguing so I guess this is where I loose my BTT cherry so to speak. The question is:
While acknowledging that we can’t judge books by their covers, how much does the design of a book affect your reading enjoyment? Hardcover vs. softcover? Trade paperback vs. mass market paperback? Font? Illustrations? Etc.?
I left a comment over at The Written Word post “Cover Up” but decided that on this lazy Sunday I would do a post about it myself.
I think that it’s very hard not to judge a book by it’s cover in most cases. When I am in a book store and can actually pick up a book, soft or hard cover, the cover is the first thing that my eye is drawn too. Be it the picture or the font of the title, unless I am going in for a specific book and have great will power and can avoid all the other books on the shelf I may be more likely to pick up an interesting looking book. Yes the title itself has a role in it for me but the whole package can be very persuasive.
I read Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides for a book club a couple of years ago and had this soft cover version:
Well, at our book club meeting one of my friends had the hard cover version:
I ended up asking her if she would like to trade books with me and now I have this beautiful book on my shelf. I will admit that I was glad to actually read the softback version due to the weight difference and the fact that I do a lot of my reading in bed lying down, but with it being one of my favorite books, I am happy to have the hardcover version. I also like to have interesting looking books so when buying books I might look at the bargain priced version to see if it’s different then the latest more popular copy. Especially in times when a book like Middlesex recieves Oprah’s Book Club stamp on the softback version.
Due to the weight of books, hard and soft covers, I am very interested in Amazon’s KINDLE and hope to get one when we move back to the States in 2009. I blogged about the Kindle when it was introduced to the world back in November 2007 and am just amazed by it’s capabilities.
This summer while I was in Singapore, I picked up Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and started reading it along with a million other people on this planet. Well, if you have read it you know what all the hype is about but if you have not read it then check out Oprah‘s web site because last Friday(it aired today, October 8th in Oki and will repeat tonight at 11pm on AFN Prime) Oprah had author Liz Gilbert on her show to discuss her experiences which she put down on paper and shared with us through her book.
My “real life” book club, Lit & the Island, will be reading this book in December. It’s an easy read and the first section that takes place in Italy totally made me want to go to Italy and drink wine and eat, eat, eat till my clothes didn’t fit anymore too.
Due to some technical difficulties over at Live Journal, Planet Books has moved to Word Press. I hope you find it easier to post your comments and participate in our monthly book vote. Vote for the October title HERE!!!
Our choices are “The Year of Magical Thinking”, “Snow Flower An The Secret Fan”, “Atonement: A Novel”, & “A Farewell To Arms”. I will be closing the poll on October 3rd so get your votes in and check back on the 4th to see which title we will be reading this month.