Starting a Book Club!

Monday, January 23, 2017

By popular request (ahem one request, ha, Lauren), here's an outline of how we started our book club (in late 2015).

1. First, I read this post from Everyday Reading and got very inspired by the spirit of the thing. I wanted to be part of a hard-core, book-loving (nerdy...but cool?) group of women who met to discuss books. That inspired Leanne and I to brainstorm names, and we came up with "Read It Or Leaf Book Club" or, RLBC for short.

2. Second, the members. 12 was our goal. Leanne is a particular kind of friend to me, in that we are close friends but we do not run in the same social circles (I dunno?), so this was the perfect exercise. We each invited 3 friends to join, and 2 of the 3 were asked to invite two people themselves, which would equal 12, but a 12 where the most people anyone knew would (theoretically) number 4. Over the months, we have sort of solidified into a strong group of 10 (with some additions and subtractions), but I do want to emphasize how fun and amazing it's been to be part of a group (especially something so fun as a book club) in which I've gotten to meet new people at this stage of life.

3. We use for our annual calendar. While we were getting organized, one of our members told me that her mom was in a really longstanding book club, and they'd determined the secret to how often to meet was 7 weeks—it neither feels too long or too short. So, I came up with a calendar in advance (via signupgenius), and chose dates in advance (avoiding things like spring break, Easter, and the entire month of December), every 6-7 weeks roughly. This ends up being 9 meetings a year, which is perfect because when we signed up for this school year (oh, and I do a school year calendar), it was 9 meetings for the year—so everyone got to sign up for one of everything. All meetings were solidified as 7:30-9:00 PM on Tuesday nights.

4. The categories for signing up are (and every category just once per year, remember!):
a) Hosting (the host is ONLY responsible for hosting, and maybe coffee if she so desires)
b) Choosing the book
c) Moderating the discussion
d) Bringing a dessert
e) Bringing a savory snack
(Beverages are BYO)

5) Dive in and go for it/get to know each other and read! We wore name tags, unashamedly, for the first couple of meetings and it helped everyone get comfortable! It's interesting to see that be happenstance, we have a lot of educators in our group (not on purpose! and not me, ha).

6) At the one year anniv. of our first meeting (or, it was the last meeting of our first year's calendar, if that makes sense), I did a superlatives voting ballot which was really fun. I think the categories were: Favorite Book, Least Favorite Book, Book you loved and didn't expect to like, Book you thought about most afterward, Most well-written (in your opinion), and Best Non-Book Club Book of the Year. I printed these off and we filled them out at the end of our "meeting" and then read through them, and I emailed out the results for posterity's sake. (I am, really and truly, a dork.)

Go forth! Finding a book club will be one of my first assignments for myself when we move to Idaho (yes, that's another post altogether!).

Reading Challenge for 2017

Monday, January 02, 2017

As you can tell in my previous 5 posts I've built some great momentum with reading and hope to carry it into 2017! I've set a preliminary/meaningless goal via Goodreads of 45 books but quality over quantity, always.

Aside from this arbitrary number is my plan to follow along with the Modern Mrs Darcy Reading Challenge for the first time ever! I'm so excited. I'm doing the Reading for Fun track (shocker) but may borrow a couple categories from the other track too (Reading for Growth). I've recruited my aforementioned reading pals Erin & Leanne to do this with me—we're going to do one of the 12 per month, January-December.

The categories are:

- A book you chose for the cover
- A book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able
- A book set somewhere you've never been but would like to visit
- A book you've already read
- A juicy memoir
- A book about books/reading
- A book in a genre you avoid
- A book you don't want to admit you're dying to read
- A book in the backlist of a new favorite author
- A book recommended by someone with good taste
- A book you were excited to buy but haven't read yet
- A book about a topic/subject you already love

We're gonna go in order January for the first, February for the second category, and on.

Here are the picks I've come up with so far:

- Book you chose for the cover:
One in a Million Boy by Monica Wood — I bought this one on MMD's Kindle Deals earlier this summer (check this site daily if you use a Kindle and don't already, it's amazing!). Heard so many good things about this book from multiple sources.

- Book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able:
Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (another Kindle deals purchase I already had!)

- Book set somewhere you've never been but would like to visit:
A Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell — I've always been intrigued by Scandinavian cultures and would love to visit one day.

- Book you've already read:
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith — I absolutely LOVED this book when I read it 5 or so years ago and think of it often. I'm excited to have something propelling me to reenter this world (I haven't reread anything for a while).

- Juicy memoir
You'll Grow Out of It by Jessi Klein — I saw this on several best-of-2016 lists, and heard it mentioned on the reading podcast I listen to, and then it popped up on Kindle deals so bam! Easy decision.

- Book about books/reading (love this category!):
The Little Bookstore of Big Stone Gap by Wendy Welch — also heard this one mentioned on the podcast a while ago, and it sounded so charming back then. My library doesn't have the digital version, which is why I haven't read it yet. Sounds like a charming read for book lovers/nerds.

- Book in a genre you avoid (this is the only category I chose 2 books for):
Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequest — shamefully, I don't read a lot of faith-based or parenting books I mentioned before, I'm trying to keep my eyes open currently. Ha! But, I've heard a lot of good things about this book from lots of friends/internet friends, and then (whadya know) it went on sale on Kindle deals, so I snatched it up! Glad something will prompt me to pick this up.
Columbine by Dave Cullen — someone mentioned this as one of their favorite books on a podcast I listened to, and my library has it readily available on Kindle, so I'm looking forward to reading this. I don't usually read books in this genre (which is what exactly?) but have heard really high praise.

- Book you don't want to admit you're dying to read:
Talking as Fast as I Can by Lauren Graham — I'm not ashamed to admit to wanting to read this as a dedicated Gilmore Girls fan, but nonetheless it fits well into this category and is outside my usual reading sphere. Can't wait to read all the behind-the-scenes stuff.

- Book in the backlist of a new favorite author:
The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanigahara — as I mentioned in my Q3 2016 post, I have immense admiration for Hanya Yanigahara and was bowled over by what she did with A Little Life. I've heard that this book is completely different from A Little Life, but I'm nonetheless excited to read more of Yanigahara's work to see if its brilliance is even close.

- Book recommended by someone with good taste:
Fair and Tender Ladies by Lee Smith — my friend Leanne names this as one of her top favorite books of all time. Good enough praise for me!

- Book you were excited to buy but haven't read yet:
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance — so much has been spoken/written about this memoir, especially in light of the election, and I grabbed in on a Kindle sale and just haven't gotten to it yet. I don't know if I'll be able to wait until late in the year to read it.

- Book about a topic/subject you already love:
Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Hughette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman — yet another Kindle sale I'd snagged and am excited to read. I love books that focus on small facets of American history and can't wait to read this one too.

As you can see from the list, I'd already bought 7/13 books via Kindle sales, which is how I picked a lot of them—went through my Kindle library to see what I hadn't read yet and what would fit. I'll try to keep up with quarterly posts on how this is going (along with my other reading!) just for fun/nerding out. 2017, baby.

2017 Calendar

Monday, January 02, 2017

It has been sweetly brought to my attention that I never posted the 2017 One-Page Calendar on my blog. I'm so sorry!

Here's the link to download it!

Happy New Year!

Favorite Books I Read in 2016

Sunday, January 01, 2017

It wouldn't be hard to glean from my previous posts, except then you'd have to comb through them all, so I'll make a handy list here! These are not books that were released this year necessarily, just books I read this year! In no particular order:

1. Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
2. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
3. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
4. A Little Life by Hanya Yanigahara (but please read a little about it before you embark!)
5. Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
6. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

Be my friend on Goodreads and let me know if you read/loved any of these too!
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