BOOK CLUBS 2022
In six days, we’ll celebrate the Summer Solstice—the longest day in the year—which is also the first day of summer so grab a cup of coffee or a glass of iced tea, take your tablet or laptop outside to soak up the sunshine, boost your immune system by absorbing Vitamin D3 and join me in talking about one of my favorite subjects—book clubs! If you love to read, analyze characters and discuss theme, moral premise, symbolism or motifs, you’re probably in a book club. If not, you need to be.
Research the history of book clubs and you’ll learn that Ann Hutchinson is thought to have started the precursor to today’s groups in 1634 when she gathered woman together onboard ship to discuss weekly sermons as they sailed to the New World. Although the Massachusetts Bay Colony eventually condemned the gatherings, their censure couldn’t stop the formation of other discussion groups for women in the years ahead.
|My wonderful Book Club.|
We've been meeting for 18 years.
Hannah Adams is considered the first woman to earn a living through writing and in the late 1700s took part in a reading circle in her hometown of Medfield, Massachusetts. Soon thereafter, American essayist and women’s rights enthusiast Hannah Mather Crocker organized a similar reading group in Boston.
In the early 1800s, women were regularly meeting to discuss the belle lettres, a French term for “beautiful writing,” that encompassed a wide range of literary work, such as fiction, poetry, drama and essays.
|We met in homes until 2020.|
Pamela Burger, in her article, “Women’s Groups and the Rise of the Book Club,” (https://daily.jstor.org/feature-book-club/ claims that clubs for women were greatly in vogue by the late 1800s. Focused primarily on literature and the arts, those early groups gave birth to the concept of the modern book club. By the 1920s, avid readers received selections in the mail thanks to the Book-of-the-Month-Club and The Literary Guild.
Oprah Winfrey is often credited with the rise in popularity of book clubs in modern times. The talk show hostess started her own television book club in 1996 and encouraged women to read books she chose, beginning with the club’s first read, The Deep End of the Ocean, by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Oprah picks invariably soared to the top of the bestseller charts, and even classics, such as John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, gained a new resurgence of notoriety due to what has been called the Oprah Phenomenon. Over a span of fifteen years, members read a total of 70 books until the club ended in 2011.
Today, virtual book clubs abound. Word of mouth book promotion has turned digital with readers sharing information about authors and their books online. Goodreads provides a forum for its more than 20 million members to discuss and review their favorite reads. Facebook reading groups interact with authors and discuss their stories in a number of forums, including Q & As and author chats.
|Now we meet at restaurants with outside dining.|
Here we're on an enclosed patio.
Schools, libraries and even communities host monthly reads with such programs as One City, One Book that started in Seattle in 1998. The National Endowment for the Arts sponsors The Big Read, and since its kickoff in 2006, more than $18 million in grants have been given to fund reading events across the country.
No matter how or when they started, book clubs seem to be a permanent part of our American culture. According to The New York Times, there are an estimated 5 million book club members in the United States. In 2014, BookBrowse (http://www.bookbrowse.com/blogs/editor/index.cfm/2014/3/25/Book-Clubs-by-The-Numbers) interviewed women who read more than one book a month and found that 56% were members of book clubs. Nearly 90 percent of the clubs meet in person, and on average, members read from 9 to 12 books each year. The books are selected from various genres with the classics and bestsellers being the most frequently chosen as monthly picks.
The book club in which I’m a member started 18 years ago after a church retreat when those of us who attended the religious gathering wanted to continue meeting. At first, we read inspirational non-fiction but quickly evolved into a fiction reading group. The second Wednesday of each month finds us enjoying dinner at one of our local restaurants. After eating, we turn our focus to the monthly read. Questions in the back of the book sometimes provide a springboard for our discussions, and it’s rare that a story that doesn’t leave us with a thoughtful insight or takeaway that we can apply to our daily lives. At the end of the evening, we decide on the next month’s read. Each December, we have a book exchange with the January selection chosen from one of the gift books.
|The temperature this night hit 32 degrees.|
The restaurant owner named us the Polar Bear Club.
My book club met last Wednesday and chose CHASING FIREFLIES, by Charles Martin, as our next read. Are you in a book club, and if so, what are you reading, or what was the best book your club read during this past year? If you’re not in a book club, have you thought about starting one? Need info? I’ll be happy to share suggestions on how to form a book club. What online or community-based reading challenges have you enjoyed or hope to take part in this summer?
Wishing you abundant blessings!
By Debby Giusti
Mission to capture a killer
The Colonel's Daughter
A killer is targeting the families of soldiers in a US Army colonel's brigade, and Criminal Investigation Division special agent Jamison Steele vows to stop him. The colonel's daughter, the woman who loved and left Jamison without a word, came face-to-face with the murderer. But uncovering the serial killer's motive requires asking Michele Logan the questions that may lead them both into a deadly trap.
The General's Secretary
Lillie Beaumont's dark past has just turned up on her porch—fatally wounded. The dying words of the man imprisoned for killing Lillie's mother suggest hidden secrets. Criminal Investigation Division special agent Dawson Timmons has his own motive for seeking the truth. As they investigate, Dawson fears that a murderer is waiting to strike again. And this time, Lillie is right in the line of fire…
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