New Research: Book Clubs in Lockdown!

Book Clubs in Lockdown - cover2020 has been a tough year; we have faced restrictions due to the ongoing pandemic, social unrest, and a bitterly contested and divisive Presidential election in the USA. Many of us have been separated from our family and friends. With so many lives disrupted, we wondered…how has all this impacted readers and particularly those in book clubs? So in October we launched a survey to find out! Within two weeks we had over 4,500 responses, including 3,400 from book club members.

Since then, the BookBrowse team has been working to analyze the responses (there was a lot of information!) to build a clearer picture of how book clubs are reacting to the challenges they've faced this year, and what this might mean for the long term. I want to thank all who took part in the survey, many with very detailed and well-considered comments, through which we've gained many insights that we're eager to share with you.

The "Book Clubs in Lockdown" report is just released and is available to you in full for free. Go to bookbrowse.com/lockdown to download your copy and, when you have, please do share with others.

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Best Books for Book Clubs in 2021

It's been a challenging year on a number of levels and we hope you've managed to keep your book club going strong as we all rethink and rework the way we live our daily lives. The end of the year is a great time to take stock of your book group and make plans for the future. In this roundup, we recommend a dozen books for your book group in 2021, all of which are newly released in paperback or will be available in paperback soon.

The list features books by award-winning and tremendously popular authors like Elizabeth Strout's Olive, Again and Ann Patchett's The Dutch House, along with some debut novels such as The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner. We also have two young adult recommendations, two mysteries and a good splash of historical fiction; and for nonfiction fans we suggest Richard Askwith's captivating biography of World War II-era horse racing phenom Lata Brandisov√°, and Anne Gardiner Perkin's biography of the ground-breaking first cohort of women to join Yale in 1969.

All 12 books earned five stars from BookBrowse reviewers, so you can't go wrong whatever you choose. Also, we invite you to check out the selections from our Anti-Racist Reading List which includes books from the past two years that should foster dialogue on current events.


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Effective Ways to Encourage Quiet Book Club Members to Speak Up

Book clubs can be such a wonderful space for people to share their ideas; diverse viewpoints can lead to deeper and more valuable discussions that help us grow, both as individuals and as a society. 

But what do you do when people don't speak up? How do you encourage quiet members to contribute?

According to BookBrowse's research report, The Inner Lives of Book Clubs, 16% of people currently in a book club say their group has one or more members who rarely participate in the discussions. In most cases, the respondents express sadness and frustration saying that they would like to hear from these quieter members because their opinions and experiences are of value. After all, it's the active participation and communication of ideas that allows for meaningful discourse.

To better understand what to do (if anything), it's important to look at the reasons why a book club member might be staying silent.

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What To Do When Members Come to Book Club Without Reading the Book?

Has your book group ever become frustrated by members who join in book discussions without having finished the book -- or, in some cases, without even starting it?

If so, you're not alone. According to our research, 15% of reading group members say their book club has experienced problems around this issue; and a quarter of those who left a previous book club due to dissatisfaction cited frustration over members attending without having read the book, or not attending meetings at all, as a factor in their decision to leave.

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Historical Fiction: Take Your Book Club Back in Time

With the ongoing global health crisis continuing to impact day-to-day life, drifting away to another place and time through an absorbing work of historical fiction sounds more appealing than ever. To that end, here we recommend six historical novels that have recently been released in paperback for your own reading pleasure, or to read with your book club.

Each book comes with a reading guide and all of them profile compelling female protagonists, some of whom are historical figures, others are ordinary folk reacting to significant historical events.


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Five Debut Novels to Discuss With Your Book Club

It's always exciting to encounter a debut novel that you really love. It's a great experience to be there from the beginning and then follow an author over the course of their career, watching their voice evolve and seeing how they might choose to experiment with different genres or themes in their writing. Reading a debut with your book club can be especially fun because you get to have this experience together. You might even talk about where you see the author going in the future, or what you'd like them to write next.

Here are five debut novels that have recently been released in paperback, all of which received glowing reviews on BookBrowse. We have reading guides available for each and we're discussing two of them in our own online book club so you can compare and contrast your club's thoughts with ours.

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