TSS – My First Book Club

The Sunday Salon.comI’ve loved discussing books since I was a kid and I’ve wanted to be in a book club since I learned such a thing existed. My first year of law school I joined a Short Story Club. The idea was that most of us didn’t have time to read books (which really wasn’t true if you gave reading some effort). We met a few times, but then the founding members graduated and by the time we returned from our summers, we’d forgotten about the club entirely. When I was a 3L, some other classmates put together a book club. We met once in the basement of a Starbucks and discussed Graham Greene’s The Quiet American. However, finals and my own graduation were soon upon us and we never met again (I think they may have continued it the next year). So my first two attempts to join one of these book clubs I’ve been hearing so much about failed.

I’d been toying with the idea of starting one myself. I just wasn’t sure who to ask and I ended up doing nothing. A few months ago, my friend Lisa asked me if I wanted to join a book club she was forming. I eagerly said yes and waited for the club to come together. Unfortunately, there were some issues with the others Lisa had asked and the book club never made it past g-chat discussions.

At this point, I was determined to be in a book club, so I told Lisa I would find people. I asked my friend/neighbor, Erin, because she has relatively recently gotten back into reading after having her beautiful daughter. She excitedly agreed. And then I asked another friend, Raven, who is an English teacher because I often end up discussing books with her when we go out anyway. She agreed as well. We are a bit spread out across the bay, but everyone seemed willing to drive a bit.

Today is our first meeting. Raven thought it might be interesting to read a book that was being released as a movie for our first book since it might get the discussion going. The four of us chose Shutter Island. Due to some poor planning, a very busy week at work, and distracting nature of The Olympics, there was some doubt I was going to read it in time, but I managed to read the entire book yesterday and finish just before midnight. No thoughts now – I’ll write a review later and tell you how the book club went.

In a few hours, I’m meeting Lisa, Erin, and Raven at the movie theater to see the film and then discuss both afterwards. I’m very excited to see how this book club works out. The three other members do not know each other (Lisa and Erin met once but it was a weird night so I don’t think it counts) so I’m anxious to see how the group meshes. I’ll give you all an update soon.

Since my Sunday Salon posts tend to pose questions for my readers, here’ is this week’s:

Members of book clubs: How did you get the first discussion going? Did everyone get along right away?

Nonmembers of book clubs: Do you want to be in one? Have you thought about starting one?

14 thoughts on “TSS – My First Book Club

  1. Jennifer @ Mrs. Q: Book Addict February 21, 2010 / 9:51 am

    Enjoy! I participate in an online bookclub, and we meet once a month to discuss a book. We participate through messenger at a desigated time. I’m really enjoying it.


  2. Vishy February 21, 2010 / 11:30 am

    Hope you have a wonderful time at the book club, discussing the movie and the book!

    I used to be part of a book club earlier. We used to meet once in a month at a cafe and discuss a book which we had decided on earlier. We read equal numbers of fiction and non-fiction and our discussions were real fun. Membership to the book club was open to anyone, so there were many members, though on any given day between five and ten members turned up. I became friends with some of my book club members, though we were all from different backgrounds, and we still discuss books over email. Since those times, I have moved to a new city and have joined a new club. But this new book club is different – we meet once in a month, a writer comes and speaks about his / her book or reads from his / her book, everyone has snacks and coffee and then goes home. It is fun, but it is like attending an author event and not like going to a regular book club meeting. So currently, I am searching for a regular kind of book club now. Feeling nostalgic, after reading your post 🙂


  3. Bina February 21, 2010 / 11:49 am

    Hope you have fun tonight! Let me know what you thought of the movie, too 🙂

    I´ve never been in a book club. I don´t know many people who really like to read, most people say they do but never have the time. I guess if I could find people who actually have time to read, and want to read in English then I might give it a go 🙂 But I´m also still studying literature so I get to discuss books, just on a different level.


  4. Helen February 21, 2010 / 12:13 pm

    I am so excited that you’ve started a book group! I started one with a friend in 1991 and the group is still going though I am the only remaining original member since everyone else left town. We have 8 members, which is good since there are months that some can’t make it. Here’s some suggestions: pick a day of month (2nd Wednesday or whatever) to meet and stick to it. It’s easier if you can put it on your calendars for the year. We rotate houses each month and whomever hosts has a stack of books for us to choose from for the next month’s reading.

    I am in a second book group that just started up about a year or so ago. It runs in a similar fashion and that seems to work well.

    Good luck with the group! I’d say each of you could add one more friend, then you’ll have variety and numbers.


  5. Nicole February 21, 2010 / 12:44 pm

    I think you have to just jump right in with introductions and you can ask people about other good books that they are reading and whether they have been in a book club before. I think you shouldn’t have that many problems with Shutter Island because there is so much going on in that book that it should lend itself easily to discussion once you have people warmed up.


  6. Emily February 21, 2010 / 2:27 pm

    Shortly after moving to New York, I joined a book club that was forming on Craig’s list, so everyone was strangers. I went to the first dicussion and had a good time, and everyone seemed nice enough. However, it made me realize that I didn’t really want to be discussing books with strangers, I wanted to be discussing them with my friends.

    So the book club I helped form last year consists of all friends. We knew each other from our old job that most of us have now moved on from. We’ve lost a few members, and added a few new ones. But since everyone was friends first or friends of friends, we all got along exceedingly well. We’ve been meeting every month since August 09 now, and are still going strong.

    We have fewer members now (started with 8, went down to 4, and are at 5 now). But to be honest, I really like the current size. We are all very dedicated – so 5 might be an issue with a different group if some members couldn’t make each month. We’re also all VERY talkative so 5 is a good number – everyone has a chance to say what they’d like to say.

    I like the set up of yours and hope you have fun! Even though they don’t all know each other, they are all friends of yours so I bet it will be a good group with a lot in common – so you’re likely to become pretty close.

    Looking forward to hearing about how it went! 🙂


  7. Antonella February 22, 2010 / 7:06 am

    Hope your first book club meeting went well. I’ve always wanted to join one but I don’t have enough time. Maybe when I’m retired (still long to go!) I will finally manage to get into one. Foretunately I’ve got a few friends who like reading like me and we usually exchange our opinions on the books we are reading. I also like reading book blogs like yours as I always love finding new intesrsting books. Ciao. A.


  8. Bookishly Fabulous February 22, 2010 / 2:44 pm

    I’ve always wanted to be in a book club also, and I tried to get one together when I was in library school. It never happened though. When I moved to Virginia Beach for the librarian position, I found out that some of my coworkers were in a book club so I invited myself to join. 🙂

    It has been a really great experience. Now many of the people in the club are my best friends so it was nice to meet new people since I was new to the area. Because we’re all friends, we always end up chatting about other stuff and snacking on the food everyone brings for a while, and then we start to talk about the book. We usually start the conversation by asking the person who chose the book why they chose it.

    One thing that works really well for us is rotating who chooses the book and who hosts the meetings. We don’t vote on the books like some clubs do. This way, we get to read a wide variety of books. I never would have picked up No Country for Old Men if one of the people in book club didn’t choose it.


  9. Cori February 22, 2010 / 8:17 pm

    I found my first book club on meetup.com. It meets at a local bookstore. I’ve been on and off for a few years. It’s a big group (sometimes upward of 20 people — which I think is too many), so I only go if I’m interested in the book they are reading. It’s mostly older women (40s) and one really really annoying dude. But I enjoy talking about the book and hearing what others have to say.

    I joined a Bible study a year ago and within the first two weeks I’d made a good friend. She and I realized our mutual love for books (a lot of the same books, actually), so we invited a few others from the Bible study to join us. Add in a couple of our other friends and it’s become a pretty good group (8-ish people, usually). Usually it’s all girls, but every once in a while we’ll get a guy or two. We vote on book choices and rotate houses. There is always wine. It’s one of my favorite nights each month. 🙂


  10. Ti February 23, 2010 / 4:31 pm

    My book group is entering it’s 14th year. When we met, we did not know each other. It’s a public group that meets in the library. One day, a patron asked the library if she could use the community room to host a book club. They said yes.

    So we showed up. All different ages and backgrounds. Our ice breaker was simply talking about the books we like to read. That told me a lot about them in a very short ampount of time.

    We do that now after every meeting.. we talk about the books we’ve read during the month and the newbies always feel at home.


  11. Dominique February 28, 2010 / 6:42 pm

    I can’t believe I’m this far behind on your posts! This is so great, I would love to be in a book club. I haven’t found any in my area though. And I’m glad to hear in your more recent post that The Shutter Island viewing/reading went well. It sounds like a great idea for a discussion.


    • Michelle February 28, 2010 / 8:10 pm

      I kind of enjoyed getting a whole bunch of comments from you at once. 🙂


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