Back into Book Groups…

Thank you for all your nice thoughts when you popped round for tea and biscuits last week , lovely to catch up with some of you, even though I proceeded to vanish again I did read all your comments. Now that I have actually managed to be at home for a few days on the trot, though I am back off to Derbyshire to see Gran this weekend, and have actually managed a few days of no work and just ‘being’ I have to say I am feeling slightly more normal and caught up with myself a bit – not quite fully but not far off.

Anyway, today I am going to talk to you about book groups because back at the end of last year I said that I wasn’t going to join any more. In fact I think I said I would just stick to doing The Readers Book Club with the lovely Gavin every month, and we have. Oddly we had to have a small crisis meeting about this the other week as over the last few months we’ve been having a bit of a nightmare. Authors have vanished meaning we couldn’t record with them, three publishers promised us books then withdrew last minute making us look a bit stoopid and we thought ‘right, let’s sort this out’. So, we have decided to go seasonal and from now on every three months we will announce three books in advance so people have more of a change to read along and get involved. The summer selection was announced yesterday and here they are…

  • The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall (14th of June 2013)
  • Snake Ropes by Jess Richards (12th of July 2013)
  • The Last Banquet by Jonathan Grimwood (8th of August 2013)

So hopefully this will entice some of you to read along, have discussions on our blogs on the same day and even (fingers crossed) get questions to us and possibly appear on the shows when they go live. What say you?

Thinking about book groups then made me realise how much I have actually missed being in one. To be fair when Gran has been lucid we are still talking about books but as she can’t read I haven’t been able to introduce the idea of an ‘End of Your Life Book Club’ ala Will Schwalbe which we had thought to, though as we are listening to the same audiobooks when together maybe that counts? Regardless of that I decided it might be nice to join one, something I am actually rather nervous about as I have tended to start (and then leave the city within months/a year) book groups in the past rather than join one with friendships already running through it.

Yet the lovely Rosario lives in Liverpool and had invited me to join the book group she is in when I moved over here and I initially said yes but then got too busy with everything. However now, after a slightly humble email from me, I have asked to rejoin and if I can get a copy of ‘Watchmen’ from the library in time I will be joining them next week. If not I will be joining the month after for ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd’. From Alan Moore to Agatha Christie, that sounds like my kind of book group! I also caught up with one of my best friends from secondary school, who I hadn’t seen for sixteen – yes SIXTEEN – years but now live two miles from, yesterday and we joked about one on the Wirral. Could I handle two? Well Gran was in three, so maybe it is in the genes?

So what are your thoughts on the Readers Book Club Summer Selection 2013? Have you read any and what did you think? Also do you have any tips for me as someone joining a book group that has been going a while? Are you in a book group and how are you finding it, and what are you reading, what have been your groups highlight reads? Any of you love books but can’t think of anything worse than a book club, just out of interest?


Filed under Book Group, Book Thoughts, Random Savidgeness

8 responses to “Back into Book Groups…

  1. I’m in 3 book groups plus occasionally attend a fourth, so obviously I enjoy this kind of interaction. The one I’ve been in the longest (11 years) is an adult group that discusses YA. We choose 2 titles each time and meetings are roughly 6 weeks apart. That one tends towards academic discussions since half of the members are university professors. When I first joined this long-established group, I knew few adults who read YA, so it was especially nice to find this serious discussion outlet. Our most recent titles were Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler and Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli. I lead a monthly CanLit book group at my library, which is a joy. It’s a drop-in group but most people attend regularly. Our most recent title was The Cat’s Table by Michael Ondaatje. I’m also in a private monthly book club that only reads books written by women. We’ll be discussing Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead tomorrow. The one I attend occasionally is a monthly lesbian book group that meets at an independent bookstore in Edmonton. The next title there is the wonderful (You) Set Me on Fire by Mariko Tamaki.
    My only tip for joining a book club is to read the book beforehand. Good luck!

  2. Kateg

    Loved The Case of the Missing Servant, but only finished after you had recorded. I have not heard of the other 2, but will look them up. I belong to 2 book groups. One meets every other month and is from my university alumni association. The members are all ages with all different life experiences and we tend to more literary fiction and non fiction. My other group is large. It is about 16 members and we met through our not too fancy yacht club. There are men I both groups, so while we read more current literary fiction and nonfiction at the yacht club group, we are spared romance and silly wome’s fiction. We meet monthly except for January (too cold to entice people to our beach front neighborhood). I love both my groups as we really focus on the books and authors instead of our own personal dramas. I have a sister-in-law who will not join any book group as she does not have a need for discussion, preferring to read a book and move on! Enjoy Roger Ackroyd. Dame Agatha is the best!! Good thoughts for your Gran!!! Kate

  3. I go along to Bookplate, which is a small-but-perfectly-formed group run by the Literature Society at Essex Uni, which is great because it’s pretty laid back and there are breaks for holidays. The book choices are either prize-winners or course-related, quite literary.

    Plus there’s a great monthly book club called Appetite who take over a whole restaurant in Colchester – £14 for two courses and wine. That’s a huge group but so friendly – we have name badges and swap tables after our main so we talk to more people. We’re talking about The Crow Road by Iain Banks at the end of June, which is sadly appropriate.

    Earlier this month, I did my first ever Twitter book club chat, about The Great Gatsby, which was hosted by @bluebasilathome – next month, they’re talking about Jamaica Inn by Daphne Du Maurier – maybe you can join us? Xx

  4. It took metered months to even find a book club to join in my corner of Wales and I don’t even live in the country. Most book clubs are either in libraries during the day which is not much use for us workers. Or they are held in people’s homes and no contact details will be revealed because of privacy concerns. Eventually I found one in a small indie bookshop which thus has the added benefit of giving them a boost since we buy our selected books from them. Its well established so like you I didn’t know the protocol. Only advice I can give is don’t feel rushed into choosing a book for the read. It helps to know what they’ve read in the past and any absolute no go authors or styles.


  5. I never been in a book group but not sure I could unless it was all translation books picked they be great fun ,all the best stu

  6. gaskella

    I love my book group dearly – I remember joining it after it had already been going for several years, and I’m now in my ninth year! Each group has its own dynamics. I always brief new members of ours to expect robust discussion and that we’re all skeptics, but it usually takes a month or two for them (and me when I was new) to find their feet. I guess I’m advising to take it easy and give it a go… 🙂

    I find new members for our group via local blogs and our indie bookshop. We have loads of bookgroups in Abingdon – I know of at least three other established ones, plus the bookshop has 3 of its own. I’m sure there are more, for I discovered another one in the road next to mine at the weekend when I got chatting to a chap who came to our garage sale – I’m going to see if I can join in there.

  7. I’ve never belonged to a real-life book group. Only virtual ones. I’ve looked, but have found it difficult to find an open book group reading stuff that interests me. But I have grown to adore the virtual groups I belong to and have met several other members face-to-face.

    First I joined a Facebook group that was reading War & Peace. There were many dropouts, but a strong and active core of us have stayed together for several years and continue to read what we have nicknamed the Classics/Impossibles. Big books (usually) that sometimes delight us and sometimes depress us. As a result of that group I’ve met Jonathan from London for dinner (I’m in Florida) – and Jana and I have just attended our second Booktopia together, along with two other fellow group members.

    As a result of Booktopia Oxford in 2012 – I now belong to another group of seven or eight readers from all over the USA who meet via conference call once a month. We don’t read the same book together, but we do talk about books that are exciting us – make recommendations – discuss short lists and prizes – and plot vacations centered around book festivals. We all communicate constantly via Goodreads and these are probably the closest and most compatible readers I could ever hope to find. Not to mention they a whole lot of fun!

  8. This is only the 2nd book club I’ve been in. The first one I tried was made up of women who’d met through a toddler playgroup (I was invited by one of them who’s a colleague), and after the first couple of months, the meetings became 10% about the book (which a good number of them wouldn’t have even read) and 90% about their kids. I stuck it out for a little while longer, and then just bailed. This other one you’ll (hopefully!) be coming to has worked much better from the start. We do actually discuss the book, which is great, and those who haven’t finished it are a rare exception, rather than the rule. It’s been going for over 3 years now, with members dropping in and out, and I’ve enjoyed every minute.

    Anyway, I hope you do manage to get a copy of Watchmen. Looking forward to meeting you again, if not this month, then next!

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