Tuesday, January 20, 2009

ON BOOKS ~ Book Clubs...

Although it seems I have been reading since my tiny fingers could hold those soft little books they give to babies to play with, I have never been a part of a book club or group setting that provided a specific forum for discussing books that I have read and my thoughts about them.

My closest exposure to this was school - which was not usually for the purpose of hearing what I had to say, but to teach me how to say, how to interpret, and sadly even sometimes, how to think.

In more recent years I have had discussions with family members about common reads, but we were never completing the same books at the same time so the details weren't always there.

The few book clubs that neighbors and friends had mentioned seemed to exist more for gossip than books so they did not provide the right setting.

So I went online seeking an alternative and have found several sources. In the past few weeks I have taken part in two different book discussions in two different styles - perhaps old news to you but exciting experiences for me.

The first was hosted by dear Betty at http://bettysbookchats.blogspot.com/ who I have visited through Teaser Tuesdays. I came across a post for her first online book chat about a book I had read several months prior and thought - what the hell - I'll give it a shot and see how it goes.

The second was hosted by a group on Goodreads where I participated in the selection of the book to be read and read it specifically for their discussion.

I found that I much preferred Betty's forum since it allowed for a live real-time chat where those of us participating could have a real conversation. The instant conversation kept thoughts and ideas flowing and the interaction was very enjoyable. I think it also helped that the number of participants was quite small, being the first "meeting." It made things more personal and comfortable and I think that Betty was a terrific host. But I do know that she would welcome more participation so that we could learn from a larger palate of ideas. I plan to go back to participate in some of her future discussions and encourage all others of similar interests to do so as well.

Regarding the Goodreads group discussion, it was conversation via post and my energy and interest level waned very quickly. Although it was nice to have the time to formulate more detailed comments, it seems that some participants were more interested in putting their thoughts out there rather than talking with each other about them. I think this is partly because of the format and the much greater number of members involved. The discussion goes on for days or weeks - at any time you can go back and start it back up again. That is nice since often long after the fact a new thought I wanted to share will pop up.

It is nice every now and then to use a book club to select my next read. However, I have found that if I rely on that too often it places time constraints on me to get it finished in time for the discussion. In that regard it works out well that the Goodreads group makes their selections 6 months in advance so that I can organize my reading schedule without pressure. Otherwise the reading feels more like homework and there I am back in school again. Where I originally longed for discussions to go with the great books I had to read.


Betty said...

Thanks so much for posting about the book chats, Bumbles! I really could use more participation, but I'm thinking of changing the system though.

I'm still going to use the real-time chats, but maybe instead of making it a monthly chat with only one book to choose from each month, I'd give a few book choices, and when the sign-ups reach a certain number, then we'll fix a date and time according to the convenience of the people who've signed up for that particular chat.

It might be a better idea, I'm still thinking about it. =)

Thanks for participating in the first book chat, I really enjoyed our chat and your insights!

Sandy Nawrot said...

It is curious that you have written on this topic, as it has been on my mind as well. In fact, I think perhaps it is why I started a blog. I don't have any "real life" book clubs nearby, but I'm still looking. I don't want a place to go and gossip, so this is the challenge. I found a couple of online clubs, but they were neglected...not much participation and not consistently monitored. I will have to check out Betty!

Catherine @ The Blonde Diaries said...

Thanks for the ideas and websites. I have been wanting to join a book club but the two I have found in my town haven't had any books I was even remotely interested in reading on their upcoming books list. I'll give these sites a try.

Margot said...

Thanks for this timely post. It seems to be a theme but I too have been looking for an online book club. We travel a lot so I don't have a local book club. Online is what I was thinking and now here you have done the research for me! I'm definitely heading over to Betty next. I've noticed you and others belong to Goodreads but have not had a chance to check them out.

Thanks again for a helpful post.