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