Food and Competitive Hosting at Book Club Meetings

Food is so closely tied with social gatherings, it's no wonder that it's often present at book club meetings. In fact, according to our research report, The Inner Lives of Book Clubs, 91% of private book clubs have food at their meetings, ranging from a snack (41%) to a full hostess-cooked meal (13%) or potluck (13%). Among public book clubs (i.e. groups that are open to anyone to join, many of which meet in libraries), 61% have some sort of food but the great majority keep it very simple.

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Best Books for Book Clubs in 2020

Looking to start 2020 off right with some excellent book club selections? We're here to help. All of these books received positive reviews from BookBrowse and are coming out in paperback in the first three months of 2020, and all but one has a reading guide. So if your New Year's resolution is to be more prepared (or if this was your resolution last year, but you never got around to it), take this opportunity to start planning ahead for a great year of lively book club discussions!

There are options for readers of all tastes and interests, from historical fiction to novels examining social issues, to nonfiction investigative reporting. Many of these books involve complex female characters, from Madeline Miller's Circe to the Korean seafood divers in Lisa See's The Island of Sea Women. Both Alan Brennert's Daughter of Moloka'i and Myla Goldberg's Feast Your Eyes examine mother-daughter relationships, though the authors approach their subject from vastly different angles. Sarah Bird's Daughter of a Daughter of a Queen is a fictionalized version of the life of an American heroine with grit and heart in equal measures. These and more to explore below!



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The First (and Last) Lines of Iconic Books

The first line of a book is a written invitation addressed to the reader. If the reader likes the invitation, they read on. If they don't like it, they close the book and read something else. Finding the best combination of words for that first line can take a while. Some authors devote months of time to develop the opening line of their book. Stephen King, for example, recently revealed that he has spent months, even years, crafting his opening sentences.

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Publishers Weekly Soapbox

Back in May, Publishers WeeklyPublishers Weekly published an article I wrote about BookBrowse's Inner Lives of Book Clubs report, and I've just realized that I totally forgot to post about it in our blog!

So, better late than never, here's a snippet with a link to read it in full...

The Inner Lives of Book Clubs
New research offers insights on the dynamics of book clubs

DavinaFor 20 years BookBrowse has been providing reading recommendations to book clubs and readers in general through its website and newsletters, so we at BookBrowse know that the perception many have of book clubs--as primarily social groups with minimal serious discussion--isn't accurate, but until recently we didn't have the hard data to prove it.

Last year we set out to look beyond the who, what, and where of book clubs, and to instead explore their group dynamics. For example: What do people want from their groups? What motivates them to join in the first place, and why do they stay? What do they look for in the books they read? In the process, we conducted two surveys of more than 5,000 book club members, plus 500 people who read regularly but had never been in a book club. In February, we published our report, titled "The Inner Lives of Book Clubs"--the results of the first survey to get to the heart of the book club experience.

So, what did we learn? ... Continue reading at Publishers Weekly

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The Book Club Health Check

The Book Club Health CheckWhen you think about your book club--the interpersonal dynamics, the level of organization, the quality of discussions--would you say that your group is happy? Do you consider your book club to be healthy?

Even in the strongest book clubs, issues, whether big or small, are likely to emerge at some point. But, as it turns out, how your group proactively deals with issues is a key factor to your book club's long-term happiness.

In BookBrowse's research report, The Inner Lives of Book Clubs: Who Joins Them and Why, What Makes Them Succeed, and How They Resolve Problems, we see that, understandably, when issues arise, some people choose not to address them directly and, instead, opt to look the other way. After all, book clubs are often comprised of friends, neighbors or co-workers, so a confrontational situation could potentially affect other aspects of the members' lives. But while sometimes problems resolve themselves, they often do not. The tension that builds around unresolved issues can fester and can lead to members leaving the group or, worse, the dissolution of the book club.

Luckily, there are things your book club can do to proactively manage conflict, or even prevent issues arising in the first place. Just as many of us have an annual checkup at the doctor, an annual book club "health check" can help prevent a group from stagnating or prevent unexpressed tensions from reaching a breaking point.

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Historical Fiction for You, and Your Book Club

This month we recommend half a dozen historical fiction selections from across the ages, all of which are recently released in paperback. It's an eclectic mix of critically-acclaimed novels covering a diverse range of time and subject matter. What does the past have to teach us about the present? What's changed and what's stayed the same? How do we relate to characters from such different times and places than ourselves? There are so many pressing questions to be explored within the pages of a good historical novel. Tiffany Blues, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek and American Princess feature adventurous and unconventional female protagonists living in the early 20th century, while Washington Black, The Winter Soldier, and Unsheltered consider the social and political issues of the 19th to early 20th.

If you click to "more about the book", you'll find plentiful information to help you decide which of these books are right for you and/or your book club; including reviews, "beyond the book" articles, excerpts, reading guides, and more.

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