What’s So Fun about a Book Club?

pens-fiction-9-2016-pens-of-praise-book-clubWhat’s so fun about a book club? Apparently plenty!

I interviewed two friends about their respective groups. Shelly Zraik’s meets in Michigan. Becky McLafferty’s meets in Wisconsin. (That’s Becky on the left standing next to Susan Marlene Kinney and Kathy Leist.)

So, girls,what do you love about belonging to your book club?
BECKY: We so look forward to our meetings. What can be better than combining godly friends, godly books, and prayer? It just doesn’t get any better!

SHELLY: I love getting together to talk with my book club friends. The books are always interesting, and I hear and gain insights and new perspectives I had not thought about before.

Who started your group? Who leads it?

BECKY: Sue and I co-founded the Pens of Praise Christian Writers Fiction Book Club. We take turns leading, and everyone chimes in.

SHELLY: Amy Corron (an author herself) leads our book club and its discussions. It’s called the Bedford Alliance Church Book Club or BAC Book Club, for short.

How do you decide on the books you want to read and discuss?
BECKY: Often by word-of-mouth suggestions. We read the “blurb” on a novel, and possible author bio or reviews. Did I mention COVERS? Book covers are so important, and yours is fantastic! Then we choose by general consensus. We vary genres so everyone enjoys their favorites.

SHELLY: Amy chooses the book, although she is open to suggestions and usually takes them as long as she feels it would be appropriate. Most often it is a non-fiction book, but she usually chooses something fiction or lighter in subject matter for the summer meeting.

What is your group meeting like?
BECKY: We open the discussion with general questions about “major likes and dislikes.” Our members usually highlight passages or jot notes as they read, and then we comment on things that came to our attention. Usually those were noticed by a number of readers, which is fun! We compare notes and then discuss those questions that catch our attention. In addition to those you provided, we asked what points members really liked or found thought-provoking. We looked quite thoroughly at plotting and characterization, and also what wasn’t liked…in your case, there was absolutely nothing!! We had a lively discussion about the characters in great detail, including depth of character and character traits. We also examined character arcs and story plotting. You generously provided discussion questions for our group, which proved to be a valuable resource.
SHELLY: Amy emails discussion questions ahead of time so we are familiar with them. When available, she uses all or some of the author-provided questions and maybe adds a few of her own. She reads the questions, and we share as we feel led. Oftentimes we go off on a “rabbit trail” and have to re-center. <smiling here> We had such a wonderful discussion about Her Deadly Inheritance. We shared if/how we could relate to the various characters and situations based on our own life experiences, how we might have acted/reacted under the various circumstances, and how we felt about the plot twists and who were the villains, including when we figured it out. Everyone said how much they loved Her Deadly Inheritance and hoped there was another book in the series.
Where do you meet and for how long?
BECKY: Our meetings last about 2 hours, and as much of it goes toward the book discussion/review as naturally occurs. We usually meet at Kathy’s house, and she always provides a scrumptious treat.

SHELLY: We meet in someone’s home, whomever offers to host. Everyone usually bring some sort of snack to share. Discussion is approximately 2 hrs, with fellowship either before or after. Typically we are together for about 2.5 – 3 hrs total.

How often do you meet?
BECKY: About every six weeks, depending on members schedules.

SHELLY: Every other month, the odd numbered ones.

How many participants?
BECKY: It varies, but five regulars and sometimes more.

SHELLY: Participation varies, but typically between 5-10.

As you can see, book club groups are not all the same. If you’re in a book club now, what do you find most fun about it?