One Year of Book Club!

Posted October 16, 2014 by Debby in A Personal Note, Discussions / 12 Comments

It’s somewhat hard for me to imagine, but roughly one year ago, I decided to take my book nerdiness to the next level. I’d come to know and meet quite a few YA book bloggers here in the Netherlands, and as you all know: bookish people are the best people. I reached out to them nervously, wondering if they would want to start a book club, and in no time we were regularly meeting, once a month, to discuss books and blogging and plenty of stuff outside those spheres. Though we started out as seven, we were quickly whittled down to 4 members, but I’m happy regardless. My life is infinitely better with these lovely bookish girls in it: Daph, Daisy, and Mel.

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How We Roll

Though we all live in the same country, we are spread out all over. So we chose a central meeting point for our meetings: Utrecht. Each month we oh so graciously patronize one of the many restaurants in the city, where we eat, drink, and then annoy the wait staff for hours by refusing to leave as we ramble on and on and on.

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But here’s how we organize all of this. First off, as I’ve mentioned in one of my spreadsheeting how to’s, we have a shared Google Docs spreadsheet, which we use to choose our books. Each month, one person is the nominator – they pick 3-5 titles that they would potentially like to read, put them in the spreadsheet, and then everyone votes. The book with the most votes wins. We try to make sure we have these titles picked at least one month in advance, so if one of us still has to order the book, there’s plenty of time. (Shipping to the Netherlands = asdfjkl; so annoying.)

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Our meetings take place in the last week of each month, but we don’t have a set day because all of our schedules can vary immensely. So at the start of the month, I send out a link to a ScheduleOnce planner, which allows each member of the group to enter when they’re available and makes it easy to find a time that suits all (or most) of the group. I used this site a lot before with committee meetings and it is a huge help, so if you ever need to plan group meetings, try it out!

The Books!

But, let’s face it, you don’t want organizational bullshit. You want the books. I’ll take you briefly through all the books we read this year and what we thought of them!

More Than This October 2013: More Than This by Patrick Ness
We picked More Than This mostly because Patrick Ness was going to come to the Netherlands in November. In the end, he only really went to Belgium to meet readers, but oh well. This was unwittingly a GREAT pick for book club though: the book is a total mindfuck, and the ending is the kind of unclear one that really gets you thinking and is great to discuss. WHAT DID IT ALL MEAN? We all mostly liked it, around 4 stars each, though it was such a mindfuck we didn’t really know what to say.

The Bone Season November 2013: The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
EEP. All of us actually LOVED The Bone Season. It was a full-on gush fest, and actually one of our longer discussions because we could go on and on and on about Warden and Paige and THAT KISS and asdfjkl; We all thought the beginning was slow, but the world building was incredible. After that initial slow hump, the book really took off and it was a thrilling story. We’re all super thrilled for The Mime Order, which means I have some exciting news to share with my peeps soon 😉

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Howl's Moving Castle December 2013: Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones
We all felt a bit lukewarm about this one. It was a fun story, and the writing was amazing. It really had that wonderful, whimsical, magical classic fantasy style. But the characters were a bit flat, which ultimately made the story less engaging. Our discussion probably lasted no longer than 5 minutes. I mean, we didn’t think it was bad. There just wasn’t much to say. And personally, I just advocated for the Studio Ghibli movie. I actually think that was more fun and charming than the book.

The 5th Wave January 2014: The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
I actually missed this meeting, but we unanimously hated The 5th Wave. It came up in conversation in the subsequent meeting again because we were all just so baffled about the insane amount of hype around this book. We hated the romance and found the story so boring. It was so strange, because my Goodreads friends’ average rating was like 4.4 before we read it. I dunno. At least we were not lone black sheep. It’s safe to say we’re all ditching that series and never looking back.

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ScarletUS.indd February 2014: Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen
Mel deceptively nominated this in spite of her already having read it, hahaa. She just loved it so much, she wanted to make sure we read it, I guess. Well I definitely loved it. But then again, genderbending + awesome characters = sure hit for Debby. I’d actually already read Lady Thief as well, by the time we had our meeting. Daisy loved it too, Daph didn’t quite finish, but in the end gave it 3 stars. The conversation was pretty short on this one, because other than expressing love for the characters, there wasn’t much to say.

Emma March 2014: Emma by Jane Austen
We also wanted book club to get us to read some of those titles that we keep putting off forever, namely classics. So after each member has a turn nominating titles, we have a “classic month”. The first classic book was Emma, which Daisy and I loved, Mel liked, and Daph… didn’t finish, I believe. Emma‘s romance is truly wonderful, and it’s fun to analyze her characters and depiction of society, but this book is just MASSIVE and sometimes tragically slow. Mr. Knightley forever though. What a hottie.

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eon (1) April 2014: Eon by Alison Goodman
After successfully getting through Emma, we started looking at other chunky books that we all really wanted to read but had been putting off. Eon was on everyone’s list – and we all LOVED it. Seriously, the magic, dragons, worldbuilding, characters… it was all so amazing! We were a bit surprised by the lack of romance, but buzzing with the potential for book 2. And for such a lengthy book, we all breezed through it. It was Gushfest II. We immediately decided to read the sequel for book club as well 🙂

The Falconer May 2014: The Falconer by Elizabeth May
Another universally liked book, but I was by far the one most in love with all of it. I was all ready to get my fangirl gush on, but the others were more… calm. I think it may have been the frustration over that dramatic cliffhanger ending, which I’ll admit kind of sucked. But it was such a rollercoaster of feels that I didn’t completely mind. Maybe the others were too scared to say something negative to upset me, lol. The gushfest only lasted a couple minutes, and I tried to keep it going, but alas. Still, The Falconer was amazing.

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Eona June 2014: Eona by Alison Goodman
Like I said, we all truly loved Eon, but we all felt less enthusiastic about Eona. Ratings dropped to the 3-4 star range. I think we all thought the love triangle was pretty iffy, because Ido is such a creepy creep who we had all imagined to be in his 40s or something. He’s not, but… it was just odd. The romance also just got in the way of the rest of the story. Though we all still thought it was a good book, it was disappointing in its own way. It didn’t really live up to our expectations.

The Diviners hi-res July 2014: The Diviners by Libba Bray
We were torn on this one! Daisy, Mel and I all liked it a lot, but Daph couldn’t finish it. I think it comes down to the writing style. It’s a bit dense, but really beautiful. The story seemed a bit slow, mostly because Bray was building such a vivid and elaborate world. I think it’s a pretty good choice for a book club, because there’s so many elements and writing techniques you can discuss. My personal conclusion was that I needed to read more from Libba Bray ASAP. Mel, Daisy, and I all gave it 4 stars.

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catcher-in-the-rye-cover August 2014: The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
Our second classic month was much less successful than the first. We all hated The Catcher in the Rye. Granted, friends of mine have hated it and warned me away, but I still had to know, you know? Reading it was like a rite of passage. Now I get to rant about it too. We all just thought it was pointless and annoying and Holden Caulfield needs to die. None of us really got the underlying themes that all the literary people talk about with this book, and after a decent bitchfest we decided to put it out of our minds.

The Memory of After September 2014: The Memory of After by Lenore Appelhans
My review for this will go live in a couple weeks, but again I was the most positive one in the group. Afterlife stories really intrigue me, so that helped. The others were a bit less enthusiastic, which I found understandable. This story is just a bit… unique. I think our main conclusion was that the book tried to do a bit too much for the amount of space it was given, and the main character is so flawed that it’s hard to connect with her. And I swooned for the romance, while the others didn’t. Um, I regret nothing. Those kissing scenes were awesome.

In Conclusion

Life with book club is so much better. It’s so nice to hang out with fellow book blogger folk, where you don’t have to hold any of your nerdiness back. It’s a judgment-free zone. I think we were all a bit nervous at first, and the first couple meetings were a tiny bit awkward, but it was definitely worth it. I really feel like I’ve made some great friends this way. Outside of regular meetings, we’ve also gone to YA movie adaptations, book fairs, etc.

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The reading itself enables us to get around to some backlist titles, which is a definite plus if you’re swamped with review copies and need some extra motivation/obligation to read that chunky book that has been gathering dust on your shelf for years. But most of the time our discussions around the books only last a couple minutes. Seriously. It’s our running joke that we have 3-5 minutes to talk about the book. It’s not that we don’t have anything to say about them, but we all write our reviews anyway and can sum up our thoughts pretty briefly. And mostly we’ve been in agreement for the books we’ve picked. Book club is less of a real discussion forum for books, but just a place where like-minded people can come and vent about anything: book-related or not. Oh, and a place to nom on yummy food. Can’t forget that.

I love you girls! Onwards to Year 2!

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Let’s Talk!

Do you have a book club? Considering setting one up? Which books do you think would make great book club picks? Of the ones we’ve read, I would most likely recommend More Than This and The Diviners as the best picks for discussion, while my favorites are The Falconer, Emma, and The Bone Season.

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12 responses to “One Year of Book Club!

    • Aww, you’re welcome! Have you considered putting out a call on your blog or on Twitter? Essentially our plan was hatched on Twitter, and more people in the area jumped in on the conversation, leading to a pretty impressive group of bloggers.

  1. Ahhh having a book club sounds fantastic, Debby! It’s good that you four manage to stick around! Hope that you still do in the future! I couldn’t finish The 5th Wave and many disliked it too so we aren’t really alone haha. Unfortunately I don’t have a book club nor there’s one near me… I might set one up in the future but I’m not sure who would want to join… I have a few bookworm friends who also read English books in real life, but too bad we’re pretty busy … Thanks for giving me the idea though, Debby! <33
    Kezia recently posted [Review] Ten by Gretchen McNeilMy Profile

    • Right, since we read it, more people have come out as not really liking The 5th Wave. I think there was just a huge hype effect on that one =/ Weird.

      You should try it out! I mean, at least suggest it. People might surprise you – since reading can otherwise be such a solitary hobby, many would be thrilled to have a group for all the bookish talk and activities. It will require some sacrifices, in terms of traveling and making time for meetings, but those who think it’s worth it will make it happen. And don’t back down if a couple can’t make it to a certain meeting. We also have absences now and then, and it’s fine. Everyone tries to make it, but sometimes life gets in the way. But just keep going on to the next month and try to plan well in advance, so that those who are busier can keep it in their agendas and plan around it.

  2. Awhhhhhhh *GROUP HUG*

    I’m still so happy you started this all and that I was brave enough to get over my fear of new people. I’m glad to have you girls in my life! 🙂 It’s fun to fangirl about other books than the one we had to read for the meeting, haha. And yummy food indeed!

    Yes, I wanted to reread Scarlet before Lady Thief, so I thought this as the best opportunity. I had to introduce you guys to the amazingness of Scarlet. I still think it’s awesome we hated The 5th wave, haha. Scarlet & The falconer are my two favorite books we’ve read so far.

    AND THE EXCITING NEWS IS EXCITING.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted 20 things you probably didn’t know about me – tag.My Profile

    • Awww Mel 😀 I’m so glad you stuck with it too. I’m glad I got to know you better this way 🙂

      The Falconer is my favorite for sure too. asdfjkl; I need the sequel in my life so badly.

      VERY EXCITING MIHIHIHIHI.

    • Awww, with BookBlogging.net, can’t you find some people in your area? And I know you’re outside of London, but maybe you could make that a central meeting point. I know there are other bloggers in that area at least. For us, having meetings Utrecht isn’t the easiest either – everyone has to travel 1-1.5 hours or so to get there. But we all think it’s worth it because it’s so much fun! And it’s only once a month. I hope you can figure it out 🙂

      Thanks!

  3. […] “One Year of Book Club!” @ Snuggly Oranges: Ooh, I want to be in a book club so much but I just feel like I don’t  know enough huge-book-lovers in my life. I have a lot of friends who like to read, but they don’t read as much as I do. This post really makes me want to try anyway, so maybe I’ll start working on that when I’m back at school in January and closer to people who might be able to be in a book club. […]

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