The 13 Things Book Clubs Look For When Picking Books

When you look at the representation of book clubs in the media in general, they are often portrayed as social groups that drink wine and gossip and - if there's time - discuss rather unchallenging works of "women's fiction." This view is shared by many readers. In fact, when we asked people who read at least one book a month and who are not in a book club their reasons for not being in one, 33% said they thought book clubs are primarily social groups not engaged in serious book discussion!

While there is truth to the idea that many book clubs make time for social discussion and that some enjoy a glass of wine (more on these topics in future posts), data shows that book groups generally read high-quality, thought-provoking books that spur intellectual debate across a range of genres and topics.

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15 Grammar Rules It's Okay to Break: Infographic

You are probably familiar with the age old saying, "Rules were meant to be broken." And when it comes to grammar and the English language, people have been breaking rules long before Shakespeare wrote his first sonnet.

Part of this is because English has always been such a fluid language. Just flip through an English dictionary and you'll find words from all over the world: rendezvous from France, rickshaw from Japan, and even jazz from West Africa. And if you were to spend some time with a dictionary from a century ago, you'd find many words we use today but with substantially different meanings.

All of this happens because people break the rules. They start using new words, repurpose existing words, or find new shortcuts to say things the way they want. Maybe another word from another language describes something better than the current word for it in English, or maybe the traditional way of saying something is just too clunky or formal for the modern world. Languages change and evolve, and perhaps none more so than English itself.

But there's a danger to breaking the rules too much. Remember: language is about communication, and the tighter your grasp over the language, the more successfully you can communicate. It all comes down to one thing: You have to be aware of the rules before you can break them.

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So Much Love for Library Book Groups!

So Much Love for Library Book GroupsI'm excited to share with you my article on the American Library Association's Book Club Central website: "So Much Love for Library Book Groups!"

If you find it interesting, please do share with others!

It's based on our recently released report: The Inner Lives of Book Clubs: Who Joins Them and Why, What Makes Them Succeed, and How They Resolve Problems.

Here's a brief snippet from the article:

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Ignite Your Book Club Discussions with These Page-Turning Thrillers

It's summer, a time when you might be looking for a captivating read to bring along on vacation. If your book club is seeking thrills, or looking to solve a mystery; look no further than these six books, all of which are recently released in paperback with solid reviews and helpful guides that should spark lively discussions in your group.

If you have a penchant for unreliable narrators, consider Alice Feeney's Sometimes I Lie or Greer Hendricks' The Wife Between Us, both of which delightfully upend expectations and keep the reader guessing to the end. Ali Land's Good Me, Bad Me and Christopher J. Yates' Grist Mill Road explore the psychological implications of witnessing or experiencing a terrible crime secondhand. Mariah Fredericks' A Death of No Importance is a historical mystery set in the early 20th century for fans of period pieces, and Jane Harper's Force of Nature features a sharp-minded federal agent tracking a killer in the Australian Outback (and made BookBrowse's 2018 Best Books list).

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What to Do When a Book Club Member Talks Too Much

As reported in our recent publication The Inner Lives of Book Clubs, the vast majority of book club members surveyed describe their group as a vital and fun aspect of their life. They report enjoying a sense of community and a deepened sense of empathy and, often, close personal friendships.

But even in the most harmonious of book clubs, conflict is likely to arise at some point, and if disagreements are not resolved, problems may grow more intense and people may end up leaving their book club - or worse - they may reach a breaking point and disband the group altogether.

38% of those who left a book club due to dissatisfaction did so, at least in part, because of an overly dominant personality.In our research we've found that one common cause of conflict are overly dominant personalities (ODPs) - people who, whether intentionally or not, occupy too much of the limelight and overpower one or more elements of the book club, such as book selection or the discussion itself.

We have one member who is subtly dominant and sabotages book choices that are more challenging.

One member does a lot of research into books but only in the genre she likes. Because she has done so much work we often feel obligated to choose her books.

One of the original founders sees it as her book club. She talks at least twice as much as anyone else and there can be no changes to our format without her blessing. Members have quit because of this.

One of the members would just talk on about herself and her family; the rest of us couldn't get a word in. It was supposed to be a fun night out but it wasn't, so I quit.

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Maggie O'Farrell – Life & Books

Maggie O'Farrell was born in Northern Ireland in 1972 and grew up in various locations across Wales and Scotland. When she was just eight she contracted encephalitis, an experience she describes in a chapter called "Cerebellum (1980)" in her memoir, I Am I Am I Am. The illness did long term damage, leaving her physically weak and sometimes unstable, and likely brought on neurological traits of unease, oversensitivity and dissatisfaction.

Despite this major childhood trauma, O'Farrell returned to school and attended Cambridge University, studying English before embarking on a career as a journalist. She published her debut, After You'd Gone, in 2000, and is now the author of seven highly acclaimed novels.

In her memoir, I Am I Am I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death, O'Farrell creates vivid snapshots from her life, based on numerous near-death experiences, but there are only a few references to her successful career as an author. Readers curious to map O'Farrell's literary output to the incidents described in her memoir may find the following chronology of interest:

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