A blog about writing and all things story…
Recently I was honored to be the guest author at a book club dinner that really made me feel celebrated because of their imaginative and spirited approach to book club meetings. It’s always fun to meet with book clubs who have actually read your novel and if you’re lucky, even liked it. This book club was exactly that, so I asked the hostess to write up a post about having a successful book club.
Meet Paddy Eger, author and imaginative partner in a truly creative book club. ~ Thanks Paddy!
How-to Make Book Club Meetings Sizzle Paddy Eger
Book clubs are more than about reading and discussing books. For my group, it’s about spending quality time together. In this age of being too busy, a book club is a nice break each month, but even good friends and devoted book lovers can get bored with the same old thing every month.
Our group started more than a decade ago. We read across a variety of genres: historical fiction, biographies, mysteries, popular fiction, poetry, humor, children’s books, local authors, inspiration, and often we focus on women’s fiction. Since we’re connected through our careers and families, we often find personal connections and inspiration in what we share at our monthly meetings.
We meet each month and, over time, we’ve added appetizers as well as a sit down dinner to lengthen our time together to socialize before we move on to discuss the book. Sometimes we even have an overnight stay at one member’s beach cabin. It’s filled with book talk, local touring, a crab feed, laughter, and getting-caught-up on conversations.
Before each meeting, the host sends out a reminder. Then she plans her special touch to bring the book alive. It’s fun to discover what’s waiting for us each month.
I’m an author so I enjoy adding word-related touches such as word searches (tools.atozteacherstuff.com/word-search-maker). I’ve also asked members to bring in favorite passages from the book to share and discuss how and why it influences them.
Another of my favorite book club add-ons is creating questions to share while we sit at the dinner table. It provides a focus on the book-of-the-month. When we read The Orchardist, I wrote questions about the themes in the book and cut them in the shape of apples Those questions had a life all to themselves; they traveled to several book clubs before they disappeared. For Mindy’s novel, Return to Sender, I wrote ‘Who am I’ questions and put them in a pail like Tula May carried around. Taking the time to create a brief, memorable activity, enlivens any book discussion.
One member of our group collects mementos from her travels. For Twelve Little Cakes, she shared her miniature ceramic houses collected from various European countries. In the story, the home, built over time was a focus in the story. We were challenged to relate the miniature houses to the styles common to individual countries. Prizes were given related to the setting the story. Another time when we read Molokai, that same host prepared a dinner reflecting popular Hawaiian food. The table was festive with colorful table covers and floral plates. No, we didn’t go so far as to dress up or play Hawaiian music, but we did enjoy our meal which set the mood for discussing the book.
Hosts often bring in articles about the author, newspaper interviews, samples of other books by the author, book reviews, and background on the subject-matter or location of the story. When we read The Freedom Writer’s Diary, I brought in the movie version and we compared the book to the film. Many books have reader’s guides included inside their covers. For an extensive list of reader’s guides, visit ReadingGroupGuides.com
If the author lives near you, contact and invite the author to attend your meeting. You might be pleasantly surprised when the author agrees to meet with your group. Authors may also meet with your group via Skype or other social media. It never hurts to ask!
Our book club members enjoy and appreciate when the host takes the time to add sizzle to our book club celebrations.
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