I am often asked about how to start a book club. It is actually quite easy: ask two friends, have them ask two friends, then they ask two friends, etc. When you have the number of members you want, twelve is a good number, you will find that you have quite a diverse group with various backgrounds and life experiences to make for good discussions. You will also have acquired many new friends who you will become close to rather quickly.

We have set up guidelines for the club. They are: read the book, be a hostess, RSVP to the hostess, and if you drop out, notify a member.

It is the job of the hostess to research the author and possible book reviews. She starts the meeting with information she has found. This usually gives us a better insight to the book we have read. We have found the author's personal life experiences are, many times in their book. We discuss the characters, (even the minor ones who usually get overlooked, but they are there for a reason), the time era, culture, is it believable, and style of writing. Sometimes we will have a readers guide which can be obtained through the publishing house. This can aid in the discussion with questions we hadn't thought of. We once used Cliff Notes but didn't agree with a few of their notes at all! Even using reviews, you need to remember that this is just one person's opinion- not the only correct answer. We sometimes wonder if we read more into a book then the author even intended. Through discussion, we can take what we think is a mediocre book and through each others interpretations and insights, walk away thinking " Wow, what a book!" Some of us use post-its to mark certain passages to read out loud, if we have a  question, or to bring out a point. There have been times when a member will have a question and another member will have marked it and will be able to respond.

The hostess also reserves the books at the library for us. We are very fortunate to be part of a library system that has many copies of the book we select and they order them for us a month ahead of time. We rarely need to purchase a book. It is also up to the hostess to maintain order during the discussion so that we don't talk on top of each other or separate into private discussions which is easy to do. When that happens, we miss out what others are saying.
 
We meet the 4th or 5th Tuesday of the month. In December, we have a Christmas Party and a book exchange at a member's house. We have a secretary, me, who maintains an updated address list and book list.
 
In October, a hostess list for the following year is passed around for members to select a month to hostess. This way, there is no last minute search for a hostess. If a conflict later arises, members will gladly switch months.
 
Good luck with your new book club.

The Secret History

Donna Tartt

3 

Very Dark
Schindler’s List Thomas Keneally

4  

WWII Book

Robber Bride Margaret Atwood 3
My Antonia Willa Cather

2 

  Pulitzer Prize winner in the 1920's

 

Colony Anne Rivers Siddons

 

After about 4 books by this author, you realize the characters are all the same

 

Cider House Rules John Irving 3
The Age of Innocence Edith Wharton 3
Postcards E. Annie Proulx 3
Family Pictures Sue Miller 3
Beloved Toni Morrison

3  

I was still confused on what was real in this book

 

Bookenders Book Club started in the late Fall of 1992. We are located in Lee's Summit, Missouri.

We now have twelve members but have had up to nineteen. With our group, you can count on lively and intelligent discussions. On the other hand, when we get a book that no one seems to like or doesn't seem to spark discussion, we get to socialize for an evening.

We come from different backgrounds, different states, even different countries! We have been together long enough that we feel comfortable saying how we really feel about what we read. Many times, our own personal experiences give credibility to the books. This "comfort" has also made us very close, caring friends.

As you can see by our list, we try to read a variety of books and authors. We have read fiction, nonfiction, classics, Pulitzer's. For the most part, we have read wonderful books and have learned from those we haven't especially liked. One type of book we have discovered that is hard to discuss is a mystery. It is pretty much self-explanatory. In our readings, we like to travel the world. It is fun to read of another country then sample a dessert, music, and custom of that country. We have studied almost every aspect of World War II, unintentionally, but we now have a greater understanding of the War and the Countries affected.

We have had four author visits: Kevin Robinson has written three books. He is a paraplegic and writes mysteries of a character in a wheelchair. Nancy Pickard, another mystery author, came to my house.You will find all her books in your local library. She is a wonderful writer and it was a thrill for me to have her in my home. To have such an author sitting on my couch, sipping coffee, talking, relaxed, and saying how nice it was to have a night off from the book she was writing," Twilight", was just amazing. Judy Merrill Larsen, author of "All the Numbers" and Whitney Terrell, also visited. Whitney is another local author. His latest book, "The Good Lieutenant", has been on many must read lists.

We have gone to four book signing discussions. Robert Hellegna is the author of "The Sixteen Pleasures" and "The Fall of a Sparrow". Both books were excellent, very intelligently written, and easily readable. "Sparrow" has a reader's guide in the back of its paperback. The other author we met was John Berendt, who wrote "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil". Talk about excitement!!! He spoke for over an hour then signed books. We were in heaven. Isabel Allende, who has written many books, spoke of her book, "Portrait in Sepia". It is the sequel to "Daughter of Fortune", and then is followed by "The House of the Spirits" which was actually her first book. She said she didn't realize she was writing a trilogy until now. And, Rebecca Walker, author of "Black, White, and Jewish: Autobiography of a Shifting Self".

What I love about being in a book club, and we have discussed this, is the need to talk about a book. When I close a book, I am closing a world of people I have been living with for days. I, at times, miss them and wish to continue in their lives. In discussing a book, I find closure. I can get it out of  my head and move on. Only one book haunted me for days. It was "A Prayer For Owen Meaney" by John Irving. We discussed that book all the way through dessert and I was still discussing it in my head as I tried to fall asleep that night. When discussing a book with others, I see other points of view, which at times make me understand the book better or clarifies points I missed while reading alone. There have been books I didn't enjoy reading until I hear what others have to say and I realize there was more to the book than I thought. Only one book I didn't finish reading and that was "Women Who Run With The Wolves." It read like a psychological text book, one not to be read in a straight period of time. Others I have struggled with, but by the halfway mark, it starts to make sense. Those I treat as an assignment, so I stick with it.

Other books of interest that I have read are:

Nancy Pickard is one of my favorite mystery authors. She originally wrote the Jenny Cain series. I was sad when the Jenny Cain series ended. She then wrote the trilogy: "The Whole Truth",
Ring of Truth", and "The Truth Hurts". Her latest book, "The Virgin of Small Plains" kept me up until 2:00 AM a couple of nights in a row. I could not put it down. The ending was a mind blower. I can't say anything further. She has received numerous awards. Visit her website at www.nancypickard.com. Her book, "The Scent of Rain and Lightening", has just been made into a movie.

"The Book Club Cookbook" by Vicki Krupp and Judy Gelman. This is a must read and own for every book club or individual. There are over 100 books listed with a summary of each book, recipes that go along with the book, then a profile of a book club. Our club is listed under "The Weight of Water". For more information go to www.bookclubcookbook.com
 

 

We base our rating scale from 1-4.

  1. = Poor 
  2. = Average 
  3. = Good 
  4. = Excellent

After we have discussed our book, a sheet is passed around the room for ratings and comments. When a book is not a solid number, we will give it a percent of the number. For example, a 3.25 or 2.75, etc.

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