I asked a friend who is an avid reader if she would share her experience in a book club with us.
She wants to remain anonymous but I do appreciate her taking the time to answer my interview questions.
1. What do you think is the ideal number of people to have in a book club?
Ideal number of people for a book club should be under 12; the meetings are only attended by 2/3 of the members.
2. Is your book club made up of all women or all men, or a mix? How do you feel about the composition of your group?
Our book club is all women. We are an eclectic group from the Comox Valley with varied interests and diverse backgrounds. Our ages are within a decade of each other, so we understand each other’s values and common standards.
3. Do you know of other book groups and their “make up”?
Yes, I do know of other book clubs. They are also smaller groups, women who meet monthly and
share discussion of the books they have chosen. Our book club has read a few of the books other book clubs have read.
4. How often does your group meet?
We meet once a month.
5. Where do you meet? At a public place (restaurant, library, or…?) or at someone’s home? How long are the meetings?
In a members home. The members volunteer to host the book club. We meet at 10:00 a.m. and seldom finish before 12 noon.
6. Do you keep discussions on topic or does the conversation tend to slip into personal visiting?
Our leader keeps notes and sends them in email to club members; as well she does her best to keep us on topic. We generally start with the book we’re discussing and go around the room with the members who wish to contribute to discussion taking turns.
The surprising discussions and social interactions are entertaining and stimulating. So much to share and learn at each book club meeting. We do end with discussions and recommendations of other books.
7. How do you decide on which books to read?
I decide what book I wish to recommend to our book club by my rating on a 1 – 10 scale. Not many make 10, but when I find a 10, I recommend it. I recommended an old classic at one meeting because I had not found the caliber of book I enjoy recommending in recent months.
The hostess recommends the book to read for the next meeting. The books recommended at our book club come from each member and therefore the range of reading is wide.
8. Does everyone read the same book for each meeting? Or do you each read a different one and compare reviews?
We all read the same book for discussion in our monthly meetings. If I choose not to read the recommended book and attend the meeting, I enjoy the members’ discussion.
9. Do you buy the chosen books, or borrow them? Do you share them around rather than each buying your own copy?
The chosen books are shared amongst members; sometimes we use the library or purchase online. Costco is one of our favourite stores for books.
10. Do you have discussion questions prepared before the meetings or a special format you follow?
We have an informal format that we follow. The quality of writing is important; we do read many of the recipients of the Man Booker International Prize, Pulitzer Prize, and other international bestsellers.
The discussions focus on the predominant theme, what the writer was trying to say, and the story development, separating the main plot from the sub-plot, and analyzing the ultimate resolution. The ending is important in discussion. It’s always entertaining to listen to other interpretations of the book. We all have our own experience to share.
11. Do you have any rules regarding the kind of books you will read or not read?
We do not have rules about the books that we read, however in the 15 years in this book club the books recommended are usually about our world and how people live their lives.
12. What are your thoughts on book clubs in general?
Book clubs are fascinating and take us much further in our lives than we can manage on our own. Sharing each other’s observations and experiences is challenging and stimulating.
13. Do you have any recommendations to anyone wanting to start a book club?
I recommend Goodreads as an easy source to find books in the genres you are interested in.