first book for a new book group - suggestions?

(23 Posts)
VenusInfers Thu 20-Jun-13 23:23:01

We're setting up a book group at our arts centre. We want to pick a good, reasonably challenging but recognisable recent-ish novel for our first book. I'd quite like to suggest something with good talking points - i.e. Room, Behind the Scenes at the Museum, Cloud Atlas. But not so old.

What has worked for your book groups?

valiumredhead Thu 20-Jun-13 23:38:02

The only way without people's noses getting put out of joint in our club was to take it in turns to choose a book, then everyone gets a go.

valiumredhead Thu 20-Jun-13 23:39:11

We read Room and Behind the Scenes which I gave up on

VenusInfers Fri 21-Jun-13 00:07:26

Oh yes, valiumredhead, everyone will take turns choosing, just need a book to start us off and draw people to the group. We'll be advertising it in our new brochure so need to pick a title soon.

VenusInfers Fri 21-Jun-13 00:08:27

If it was just me I'd pick The Bridge by Iain Banks, it was his favourite of his novels and one I've not read yet...

busyboysmum Fri 21-Jun-13 00:09:00

Our last book was The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry which was a great read. Everyone enjoyed it.

valiumredhead Fri 21-Jun-13 00:11:14

I've just finished that, loved Haroldsmile

valiumredhead Fri 21-Jun-13 00:14:04

The Help is a good book and lots of discussion material.

JRY44 Fri 21-Jun-13 00:19:54

The Hundred Year Od Man That Climbed Out of a Window. Perfect start

lemonpoppyseed Fri 21-Jun-13 02:34:36

I'm a librarian, and often advise and set up new book groups. For first meetings I usually suggest that everyone brings a book that they've enjoyed recently. That way there's no pressure, you can see what people like to read, and you can get to know each others reading habits etc. Alternatively, ask everyone to read a book in a certain genre eg memoir, horror etc. It's always hard to pick a book for a new group, and I find these strategies can help, and break the ice a bit!

VenusInfers Fri 21-Jun-13 10:12:37

Some great book suggestions there guys, but lemonpoppyseed's idea is probably the winner. Breaking the ice is going to be tricky, and I can see how that would work.

So, would the idea be for the group to then agree on one of the books brought in to read for the next month? Or does pulling a name out of a hat and letting that person choose work best?

valiumredhead Fri 21-Jun-13 11:20:30

Do not underestimate the resentment book club can throw up if certain people don't think they are all getting a fair chance at choosing a book. If you 'pitch' for a book ime the loudest characters get their books chosen and it's harder for the more reserved members to get heard. Picking out of a hat or just an alphabetical list of names is by far the best way ime.

I had NO idea book club could be such a minefield of politics and seething resentment, it's like Real Housewives on a bad day same months grin

Ours is nearly 6 years old, and I love it but there does need to be rules/guidelines imo.

Have fun! grin

mixedmamameansbusiness Fri 21-Jun-13 13:13:13

I completely agree, the same people seem to get 'picked' at ours. I think it would be much better if we took turns but everyone seems happy doing it this way.

lemonpoppyseed Fri 21-Jun-13 20:47:44

Venus, with a bit of luck, someone will bring a book that everyone is interested in and wants to read. Otherwise, gauge the crowd eg if ten people bring historical fiction, that will help you choose your first book. I find picking names at random works best, so everyone eventually gets a turn. Having two books on the same topic can also work well; my school book group just read Nothing to Envy, and the Orphan Master's Son. Both are about N Korea, but one is non-fiction, the other fiction. I like to give participants a lot of choice, because we all know that feeling of 'having' to read the book, and that is not fun when you are an adult smile

AmandaPandtheTantrumofDoom Fri 21-Jun-13 20:50:35

Bel Canto was a big hit at ours.

I think it is hard to pick a first book. We were a group who wanted to talk about the book in quite a literary way. Others like to talk far more about the issues the book raises, how they relate to the characters, etc.

chirpchirp Fri 21-Jun-13 22:10:04

We do it that whoever hosts gets to choose the book. When we first started and as a nice introduction each person chose their favourite book. I kicked things off by choosing flowers for Algernon.

VenusInfers Fri 21-Jun-13 23:04:13

Some great points, ladies. Sounds like some sort of random book-chooser selection process is a must. With a fair go for all.

We'll be meeting at our arts centre so can't do the 'at host's house' option. And we can't be sure that everyone will turn up, esp in the early days, so... Ooh! I know! Get everyone to write their names and contact emails down (as you do) and then use a list of random numbers to choose the order. That should work. yeah? Anyone tried it?

Like the two books idea too, if we have lots of members...

chirpchirp Flowers for Algernon is a stone-cold classic. Good call!

I'd love to choose The Worst Journey in the World, but it's got over 400 pages..confused

SarahAndFuck England Sun 23-Jun-13 22:56:15

The one I used to go to would sometimes have a theme or particular author rather than a single book.

So we would have a selection of fiction and non-fiction for themes such as Travel or War, or we would get to choose any book we wanted by one particular author.

VenusInfers Mon 24-Jun-13 22:00:11

ooh, SarahAndFuck you've proper confused me now with your great idea! I can see how that could work really nicely, and allow for more flexibility and free flowing conversation...

SarahAndFuck England Mon 24-Jun-13 23:31:51

Sorry grin

valiumredhead Tue 25-Jun-13 13:06:45

Actually sarah's suggestion would work really well in a more formal setting like you are planning, rather than in someone's house where the conversation tends to be 20% about the book more like 5% and the rest about anything else but!

SarahAndFuck England Tue 25-Jun-13 13:26:38

We were in a library setting valium, after hours so we could talk without bothering anyone and you are right, it definitely helped to keep the conversation on track.

bigbadbarry Tue 25-Jun-13 16:25:51

I used to go to a book group at a library and hated it when we all read different things. It was great when we all read the same book and had a proper conversation (which deviated, obv). When we had a "theme" - or all read one of the booker nominees or something - we basically went round the room and gave the plot of our book, everybody else went right, yeah, and there was no discussion.
The books that have kept the conversation most about the book (rather than anything else) have been Room, the handmaid's tale, and the hand that first held mine. None of which are new. Others we all enjoyed but found little to say about.
We are reading the Bridge this month smile

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