Belonging to a book club is a very personal thing and you need to ask yourself a lot of questions before you commit to one: Do you enjoy the social element, or would you rather just talk about the plot, the characters, the setting – and not hear about junior’s college applications? Do you want to meet in homes or a restaurant or the library? What kind of books do you want to read? Fiction? Non-fiction? Classics? Biographies? Would you like a diverse group of folks, or people just like you?
To help you answer these questions, I’d like to give you a run down of several different clubs that I’ve participated in or have known about. The first model that comes to mind is the Everett Woman’s Book Club which founded the Everett Public Library way back in 1898. To quote the club’s history:
On June 10, 1894, a group of local women met in the home of Mary Lincoln Brown to form a Women’s Book Club that would have as its broad aim the improvement of the mind through the study of literature, but more specifically, the establishment of a public library.
Here is a photo of the club in 1894:
Now, that’s going way back in Everett’s history! This book club still exists today with several different departments.
My own dear mother-in-law is in one of these departments. The ladies meet monthly in their homes. There is a member who is in charge of presenting a program which may be a book review, a visit to a museum, or a guest speaker. After the program, lunch is served. These ladies have formed very close bonds after 54 years of book club friendship.
Yours truly is also in a department of the Everett Woman’s Book Club. My group of about fifteen members was formed in 1983 and has been a central part of my life. We meet monthly in our homes in the evenings and typically have time to socialize with an adult beverage until someone cracks down and we talk about club business and the book which we were all are supposed to have read. The gal who choose the book leads the discussion. We typically end the gathering by enjoying a dessert together. Currently we’re reading Destiny of the Republic by Candace Millard. This is an excellent history of the short, but fascinating presidency of James A. Garfield. I highly recommend it! The story of his medical care alone was memorable.
My husband, who was prominently featured in my last post, has been participating in a book club for about twenty years which I (tongue in cheek?) call ‘The Everett Man’s Book Club’. Their meetings are about the same as my group’s, except that they seem to focus on non-fiction and they really focus on heavy appetizers instead of dessert. What are they reading now? The suggested read is The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown (Not that Dan Brown) which tells “the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans,” according to our library catalog. See? Non-fiction!
I also was in a Mother-Daughter book club when my daughter was in middle and high school. There were six mother-daughter pairs and we met just about four times a year as the girls lead very busy lives. What we lacked in frequency, we made up for in consistency: every member was able to attend almost every meeting, which really adds to the intimacy and fluency of the group. The readings were mostly young adult fiction, with some classics thrown into the mix. The library has several books on starting a book club in general, but also one called Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs which will help you do exactly that.
My daughter has been in a book club led by her high school english teacher for half a dozen years now. Her teacher is an exceptional man who meets about twice a year with a group of his former students. The girls bring food for a potluck and they catch up with their lives and then discuss some sort of reading material: anything from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” to King Lear. This summer they read Mr. Palomar by Italo Calvino. It’s a short, but pithy read about a man who “is a seeker after knowledge, a visionary in a world sublime and ridiculous,” again, according to the catalog. This book club clearly started with a leader, but it has evolved so that all of the members are now equals.
The Everett Public Library hosts a book discussion group which meets the third Monday of each month at 11:45 AM until 1:00 PM in the Main Library Training Room. No registration is needed. This group is led by our wonderful librarian, Marge Bodre. If you’d like more information, please contact Marge at 425-257-7659 or 425-257-8000. They are currently reading and discussing The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman for their August meeting. It’s an excellent novel.
If you are a member of a book discussion group, or are thinking of starting a group, you might be interested in the library’s Book Group Collection. The titles in this collection are signed out as sets – 10 copies to a set – to any book group member with an Everett library card, to share with the other members of their book group. Each set includes a discussion packet to enhance the reading experience and discussion.
So, there you have it! Now you may be better prepared to enhance your reading experience by joining a book club. I hope you do. Enjoy!