A month or so ago, I volunteered to lead the book club for the Officer’s Spouse Club (OSC) at our base. I thought, “Hey, I’m an English minor, I can do this!” Only two bases into my husband’s Air Force career and I’m volunteering for something I had no idea would be so painful. Brilliant!
So here I am, leader of the book club, perplexed: How do you organize a book club? How do I get people interested in the book club? How do you chose the book? Etc. Etc.
Literally days after I got the list of the first people initially interested, Brooke Reynolds of the fabulous blog inchmark posted this great guide: Books and Pie. So I drafted an email borrowing some of Brooke’s guidelines and asking the women for feedback and book choices:
- One book each month. You have to have read or know someone who has read the book before you recommend it. Also, try to pick a book that is easy to find (via Amazon, library, local bookstore, etc.). I suggested that the host chose the book.
- Meet the same day each month. Our location will probably be each other’s houses, however, this is all TBD and is based on how many spouses are interested, where people live, etc.
- Discuss the book. The book club leader will come prepared with a few questions on cards. Everyone will take one or two and when they think it is appropriate interject with their question.
- Keep refreshments low-key. Dessert and beverages.
And I haven’t heard back from a single person. Granted, one of the interested parties is one of my closest girlfriends here, but the other five women haven’t made a peep! I’ve decided I’m going to chose a book, time, location, etc. and send out an Evite with the details. However, now I have to decide on a book. I want something that isn’t a difficult read, but is still interesting and thought-provoking. I personally love novels and/or about family sagas, friendships, and women on the verge.
Here are some of my favorites and possible options (for full descriptions from Books•A•Millions’ website click on the book title). The first four I have read; the last four are ones I’d like to read. I’m hopeful some of the spouses are interested in one of these titles. If all goes well, I want to post a review of the book read every month after the we meet.
The Awakening by Kate Chopin
Love this book, which is actually a short story about a woman and her awakening in the 1800s. This version is dirt cheap ($1.50) and it is short, so maybe book club members will be more likely to read it even though they are busy.
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume
Summer Sisters is my absolute favorite book of all time. I read it in high school and have loved it ever since. I try to read it every summer. I really enjoy stories about friendship, especially those told over a number of years. This is an easy, fun read.
Truth & Beauty by Ann Patchett
This is a heartbreaking story of the author’s real-life friendship with a fellow writer. A tearjerker for sure. I read this while enroute to visit my best friends’ and I sobbed. Once I arrived, I hugged my friends a little tighter.
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
This memoir is about Wall’s tumultuous childhood with nomadic parents.
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky
This novel was written by a Parisian writer about the German occupation. Eventually, she was arrested and sent to a concentration camp; this novel was found 64 years later. I love fiction that takes place during World War II. I’ve read the first few pages of this book and think it sounds great.
A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley
A story about a family with a 1000 acre farm that is about to be left to the daughters’. Some of them want it, some don’t and their father does something terrible, causing a family drama to unravel.
The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs
I’ve heard lots of great things about this book – another one about women and friendship.
The Senator’s Wife by Sue Miller
Sue Miller’s works are well-known, her novel While I Was Gone was one of Oprah’s Book Club selections. This sounds interesting and focuses on a young wife who befriends a cheating senator’s wife.
So I am curious – are any of you in a book club? How do you organize your book club and/or decide on a book? Which of these books would you want to read with a book club? What would initially spark your interest in a book club?