How We Roll
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.)
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!
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.
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 😉
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.