Inspiration by Eerdlings.
I came across a fantastic video blog yesterday about how to choose a book club book. They covered some great things to keep in mind, such as varying the genres to challenge your reading expectations and avoid ruts.
The bloggers mentioned that friends likely share reading tastes so it may be difficult to expand beyond what everyone is already comfortable reading. In our group the rotation helps keep everyone engaged, sometimes covering what one person is an expert in sometimes another. We’ve discovered that structuring the group to bounce between fiction and non fiction really helps us cover more unexpected ground.
In my personal reading I don’t find myself longing to pick up a book on philanthropy in Haiti (Mountains Beyond Mountains) or learn about the impact of food sourcing (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) but they were great discussion books. Not only that, members react in life changing ways. After Mountains Beyond Mountains I became a micro-lender through Kiva. After The Omnivore’s Dilemma anther member began researching ethical foods locally.
They also talked about the dangers of picking a book everyone loves.
Our most unanimously hated book is easily The Book of Law by Aleister Crowley. How the text was selected is a bit of a mystery still. However, it wins awards for most quoted and reviewed. Just shy of reading the entirety of the book aloud, we discussed it at length sharing my humorous passages.
I do disagree with some of the suggestions. For example, one of the recommendations for picking a book is selecting something with a Book Club or Reader’s Discussion at the end, which will ensure the book can have depth to be explored. I agree that it is a good indicator of a meaty book. However, proceed cautiously when using these to outline your meeting. In the past making use of such topics for conversation has caused book club to go awry.
The fifth book we read (as a group) was The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon. It contains paragraphs worth of questions over a few pages. We began with them but they failed to address the elements that most interested our group. Since then we’ve skipped over any guided lessons offered.
One of my tips for selecting a great book club book is keeping independent lists of “wishing to read” books. When you meet for book club see if there are authors on more than one list and find the one no one has read.Give that a try.
This month we are doing Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy by John le Carre. He’s a well known author that no one has read before. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!