Thursday, June 12, 2008


I haven't done a Booking Through Thursday for a few weeks. Here is this week's question:

A combo of two suggestions by: Heidi and by litlove

Have you ever been a member of a book club? How did your group choose (ot, 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 have been a part of a number of different book clubs over the years. One was a face to face book club, and another couple were online clubs. Generally the book clubs choices have been decided democratically. Everyone brings a number of suggestions to the table, and then everyone votes/discusses which ones they would like to read.

I have to say that being part of a book club has generally enriched my reading experience of a book. For example, for a long time I was a member of a number of reading groups over at Oprah's Book Clubs. Firstly, there are books that I would probably have never read, if it was left to just me, that I read with Oprah. I also think that I enjoyed reading some of those books far more than I would have had I just read them by myself. I am thinking specifically of books like One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy that I just don't think I would have picked up, let alone loved as much as I did without the discussion that went along with reading those books as part of a group. I haven't read along with the last few choices, but I do always keep an eye on whatever her new books are, just in case there is something really interesting coming up!

A few years ago I was also part of a face to face group. Whilst I enjoyed it while I was going I don't think I got as much out of it as I did for the online groups, because there was an hour to discuss a book, whereas with the online group, you could talk daily about where you were up to, ask questions etc.

These days I am an active member of one online bookclub group, and keep an eye on another with the intention of participating. The reason I say that about the second group is that often the books for each month are chosen either too late for me to fit into the reading schedule for the next month, or the books aren't easily accessible here in Australia.

The other group that I am a member of is called Genre Stew, and is a combination of book club and group that chats about books, if you get the difference. With this group we get a fairly eclectic list of books that are voted on months in advance, and there are pretty good discussions of the books that are being read. In terms of leading the discussions, whoever suggested the book in the first place gets to lead the discussion, and therefore for this month's discussion, I am leading! Newcomers are always welcome! Books that are going to be coming up over the next few months are:

  • Jun 10-North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Jul 10-Jack Maggs by Peter Carey
  • Aug 10-The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff
  • Sep 10-Family Matters by Rohinton Mistry
  • Oct 10-The Birth House by Amy McKay
  • Nov 10-World Without End by Ken Follett
Interestingly enough, both of these groups are offshoots of Oprah groups, and so I have been chatting about books and sharing my life with some of these people for a number of years now.


  1. As I read almost genre apart from paranormal fiction, I don't need a book to be picked up for me. I had a very bad experience joining a book club and after that I vowed I would never even consider it.

    If I do find a group which suits my mood, I might do it!

  2. I agree that reading and discussing with others really enriches the reading process. The problem in my current phase of life is time.

    I've heard that Oprah is one of the most influential voices out there when it comes to books.

  3. We have one in our local library, but it's not a good day for me. I love watching Tuesday Book Club on the ABC, though. Even though they usually pick books I wouldn't normally read, I love the discussions and have actually picked up a few books I normally wouldn't try, just from watching the show.

  4. I like how bookclubs push us in directions that we might not otherwise go. Asides from pointing out aspects of books we may not have considered, we're also reading books we probably wouldn't have picked up (like the Oprah choices you mentioned). My bookclub had me reading more current books and I appreciated that I was in the loop for once!

  5. It's still going strong Chris!

  6. How interesting. I would love to read a book like Anna Karenina with a group because I have such a hard time finishing it!

  7. Can safely say that those choices do not grab me! This is the last 10 books I have read:

    Yellow Fever by Steffan Piper

    Writing Tools by Roy Clark

    Where I'm Calling From by Raymond Carver

    A novel in Letters by Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

    How to avoid making Art by Julia Cameron

    Jasmine's Tortoise by Corinne Souza

    The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

    The Contractor by Charles Holdefer

    The Tidewater Tales by John Barth

    Young Stalin by Simon Sebag Montefiore

    My his he being serious post!

  8. Greetings,

    I came across your blog post regarding book clubs. I’m Jason Pfeifer, and some friends and I started an online service called Booksprouts, that allows people to create book clubs, choose books, invite friends, and read and discuss online. We are currently seeking people who might be interested in trying the site out, and giving us feedback on the service. We also welcome people who have blogs to write reviews of the site (good or bad) as a means of feedback. We’re really excited to hear what people think, and on how we can improve the site. It’s 100% free, by the way. Please feel free to check it out.

    book clubs


    Jason Pfeifer
    Community Manager

  9. I hardly think of online book groups as clubs Marg but I guess they are.
    I founded (sounds grand doesn't it?) oz_mystery_readers over 5 years ago.
    We have been discussing books for about 4 years and have a suggestions, and then voting process.
    I also belong to a number of other Yahoo Groups: 4MA, Murder&Mayhem, mystery readers cafe. I post less often there but sometimes join in the book discussions. There are links over on my blog in the side bar section called Mainly About Me if anybody wants to follow any of them up.

    Then I also am a member of a face to face mystery discussion group here in Adelaide that meets at a cafe roughly once a month on a Sunday morning. The core of us have been meeting for about 15 years. There are currently 7 of us, but if any Adelaideians read this and want to join us, we have room for more. We choose our books on a rostered basis. We find out what the next book is when we meet to discuss/"chat over coffee about" the current one. Drop me an email at kasmith9 at if you are intersted in joining.



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