John Shors Literary Travel

John ShorsAs a book lover, the chances are that you enjoy traveling to places you've never been through books; and prior to the pandemic, you probably enjoyed traveling in person, which is why I am excited to tell you about John Shors Literary Tours.

You may well recognize John's name from his novels, many of which have been featured on BookBrowse and are bestsellers in the US and overseas (he's been translated into nearly thirty languages). Starting with Beneath a Marble Sky, which transports readers to 17th century Hindustan and the building of the Taj Mahal, to last year's My Midnight Sun (set in modern day Nepal), John brings his settings to vivid life by drawing upon many years of travel and research.

Now, John has combined his love of writing and travel to personally lead small groups (average size is just 10 people with two guides) on tours to the parts of the world he knows intimately. Among the tours coming up are a Jane Austen Tour to England this September, followed by India in October. Then in April 2022 he'll be leading separate tours to Bhutan and Japan.

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Book Clubs and the Pandemic: The Good and the Not So Good

book club meetings during the pandemic - the good and the not so goodAs we've been discussing in recent posts, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have required book clubs to change course and do things differently. From the responses to our October 2020 survey, "Book Clubs in Lockdown," the most frequently reported change has been a switch from in-person meetings to virtual. In total, two-thirds of book clubs that were meeting at the time of the survey were doing so virtually, and of these all but a few percent were using Zoom.

We'll be looking more closely at how those virtual meetings work and what book clubs have to say about them in a future article. Here we look at some of the good and not so good aspects of the book club experience during the pandemic, irrespective of whether groups are meeting virtually or in person.


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Book Clubs During the Pandemic: Fostering Connections

How is your book club doing these days? If you're like most of the respondents to our October 2020 survey, your group has gone through some changes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether you're meeting on Zoom or gathering in person with social distancing and masking protocols, your book club meetings probably don't look quite like they used to. But not all change is bad! As we discovered in our research, satisfaction among book club participants is still high, despite the curveballs this pandemic has thrown us.

We surveyed more than 3,000 people who described themselves as currently in a book club. Of these, three-quarters were still meeting regularly with their book group, either virtually or in person; the remaining quarter mostly had not met since the start of the pandemic. The rest of this blog focuses on those who had been meeting regularly during 2020.

A full two-thirds of book clubs were meeting virtually at the time of the survey, almost all on Zoom; a further 17% were meeting outdoors; and the remainder were mostly meeting in someone's home or in a communal space (with all but 3% taking precautions). More about meeting locations in our earlier post, "Book Clubs During COVID: When Will We Meet Again?"

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The Pandemic and Politics: Changes in Book Club Reading Habits

We've discussed how book clubs have changed the way they source books during the COVID-19 pandemic, but what kinds of books are they reading? For our "Book Clubs in Lockdown" survey (published in November) we asked respondents about their reading habits during the pandemic -- from how much time they're devoting to reading to what kinds of books have been on the agenda. The responses are illuminating.

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How Book Clubs Find Books During the Pandemic

book shelfContinuing our series of articles based on our November 2020 "Book Clubs in Lockdown" research, we now turn our focus to one of the biggest challenges book clubs faced – and are still facing: how to source books!

Prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, over 84% of US book clubs we surveyed included at least one member who relied on borrowing print books from their library. With many public libraries operating under challenging conditions, it's unsurprising that many book groups have had problems getting copies of the books they want to read.

Despite these difficulties, it's important to note that survey respondents express considerable appreciation for their local libraries--and the near-heroic efforts of librarians keeping things up and running:

Wait lines are longer, and turnaround times are longer too. No complaints, though – we have a wonderful library system and we are grateful for the wonderful job they are doing.

Our libraries are open for book borrowing, not for browsing the shelves or being inside. Bless the libraries.

We can request a hold on a book. When it is at the chosen branch, you choose an appointment time M/W/F, and pick it up. All non-contact. I think the library has done a great job figuring this out.

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Books in Translation for Book Clubs

Introducing translated literature into your book club is a great way to expand the scope of what you read and discuss. Translated books make up a relatively small percentage of all books published in English, but within that small percentage lie vast opportunities to engage with unique artistic perspectives. Below is a selection of recent translations for your book group to enjoy.

Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 is a feminist novel that makes a statement via its everywoman protagonist. It Would Be Night In Caracas and When the Plums Are Ripe show political events through the eyes of their distinct main characters. No Presents Please and The Black Cathedral are multi-faceted reads that explore individuality and community while offering viewpoints from a wide range of characters.

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The Last Flight by Julie Clark
Book Clubs in Lockdown - Free Research Report