Keeping Book Club Going After High School

February 17, 2010

This past weekend I had the chance to travel with two other book-club moms down to the University of Oregon where we met our three daughters. Since our book-club girls graduated from high school last spring, we’ve been searching for ways to keep the group active and involved, and parents’ weekend at school was a good opportunity for some of us to do just that. We ate lunch together, went to see The Lightning Thief at a local theater, had dinner together and brunch the next morning. We hadn’t read a book to discuss, as the girls are all pretty overwhelmed with all the reading they have to do for class. But we did get to take advantage of one of the other major benefits of mother-daughter book club: having fun socially and talking about issues that are important in our lives.

When we finished brunch on Sunday, a mom commented that she hoped other diners weren’t put off by our loud, frequent laughter. Her daughter responded, “I’m sure they could tell we were just having a good time. We always have fun when we get together.”

Maybe we’ll be able to pick up the threads of a normal book club and read together in the future, but for now, I’ll take the fun and the laughter.

Photo by Jill Greenseth

Questions to Answer When You Choose Your Book Club Book

January 28, 2010

When you choose your book club books, have you ever thought to start off your discussion by answering a few questions about why you chose it? Starting out with this little step can get the ball rolling and provide insight to the rest of your conversation. Here are a few questions you may want to answer:

  • What made you want to read it?
  • What made you suggest it to the group for reading?
  • Did it live up to your expectations? Why or why not?
  • Are you sorry/glad that you suggested it to the group?

There’s often a lot of self-imposed pressure when you choose a book for your book group to pick something everyone will like. But unless you’ve read the book first, you may not even like it yourself! It actually helps you relax and lead a discussion more easily if you can say, “I expected to like this book because…” “I think this book brings up several issues we can talk about like…” Then you can focus more on the discussion topics and less on whether everyone liked and disliked the book, which is very subjective. I’ve rarely seen a book that 100 percent of our book club members liked and would recommend to others. And that’s a good thing actually. Because the best discussion usually comes about through disagreement, although I’m talking about respectful disagreement where you may benefit and learn from someone else’s opinion even if you don’t share it.

Be the first to open up, and you may just inspire everyone in your group to be more candid.

Flashlight Worthy Book Recommendations Seeks New Lists

January 21, 2010

In December Peter at Flashlight Worthy Book Recommendations published a list of great books for book clubs compiled by a list of book bloggers, including me. He’s been getting great response to that list, along with his multiple other lists for book clubs. Now, he’s hoping to find more book clubs who are willing to put together a list for him. I’ve already created lists for mother-daughter book clubs in four age groups, the first of which went up on his site yesterday. It’s a list of recommendations for mother-daughter book clubs with girls who are 7 and 8. Compilations for readers aged 9 and 10, 11 to 13 and 14+ should be up soon.

Here’s a message from Peter on what he’s looking for:

Open Call for Lists of Book Club Recommendations!

“Hello and happy new year from Flashlight Worthy Book Recommendations—where you can find books so good, they’ll keep you up past your bedtime. 😉

It seems the book club community has recently discovered my book club recommendations. From the feedback, not only are the lists very much enjoyed, but people are clamoring for more.

That’s where you come in. While I’ve read plenty of books, I’m looking to book club members to contribute new lists—themed, annotated lists of highly discussable books.

Can you name and describe 5+ flashlight worthy, discussable books that follow a theme? Maybe ‘7 Great Books that Revolve Around Food’? Or ‘6 Women’s Memoirs That Will Start an Argument’. How About ‘5 Discussable Novels Set in Africa’?

Take a look at the lists I have and give it some thought. If you’re interested, email me at Info AT flashlightworthy DOT com. Thanks so much and have a great new year!

(The guy who runs Flashlight Worthy)
Recommending books so good, they’ll keep you up past your bedtime. 😉

Mommy on a Shoestring Radio Show

January 14, 2010

In just a little while I’ll be talking with Beth Engelman and Jenna Riggs, hosts of Mommy on a Shoestring Radio Show. I’d love to have you listen in as I talk about creating your mother-daughter book club, books you may want to choose with your group and more. Just click on the show’s website and listen to the live feed beginning at 11 a.m. Pacific Standard Time (12 p.m. MST, 1 p.m. CST, 2 p.m. EST). If you can’t make it, a link to the show’s podcast will be up on the site soon after the show is over.

While you’re visiting the site, you may also be interested in listening to some of their past shows talking about family fitness, cheap family fun, gift giving, and crafts. Beth also has a bi-monthly video and column at with lots of ideas for family activities.

Christina Hamlett’s Interview in American Chronicle

December 24, 2009

Recently I was able to answer a few questions for Christina Hamlett about mother-daughter book clubs, the writing life, reading, and my guidebook, Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs. Here’s the link to the interview at American Chronicle.

Christina was a wonderful resource when I was writing Book by Book. She’s been an actress and director, and she also teaches and writes, which is why she had lots of helpful advice to add to the chapter on Book by Book that tells how to stage a play with your book club members. She’s also written a great book to be read by book clubs with older daughters called Movie Girl. Here’s a past interview of Christina herself at Mother Daughter Book

Photos from Book by Book Talk at Barnes and Noble

November 19, 2009

Didn’t Barnes and Noble put together a nice poster for my talk at their Clackamas Town Center store Tuesday night? I have to admit, it took me aback for a second when I walked in and saw my photo and book cover so prominently displayed at the door. What a thrill! It was so kind of the Fantasy Firsts Book Group, which meets at the store regularly, to invite me to speak at one of their monthly meetings. They also opened the door for anyone else who wanted to sit in and hear my talk about mother-daughter book clubs.

And the chairs were so nice and comfy I could have settled in for the night. Especially with so many books just steps from my itching fingertips. It was difficult to practice self control. Here’s a shot of our comfortable gathering:

The Fantasy Firsts group has been together for almost a year, and while not officially a mother-daughter book club, there are several moms in the group along with their high school daughters. Charlene Williams at Barnes and Noble leads the group, and her daughter is a member, too. Charlene promises to email me the club’s reading list for the last year, which has some great titles for lovers of fantasy.

While I was at the store I took the opportunity to pick up a copy of WordPress for Dummies. For the last two months I’ve been working up to an overhaul of this blog and my website, combining the two for more efficient browsing. WordPress for Dummies is not exactly great bed-time reading, but with any luck, I’ll be able to figure a few things out and get the redesign in the works. Wish me luck!

Laura Whitcomb’s Blog

November 16, 2009

Laura Whitcomb

Today Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs is featured on author Laura Whitcomb’s blog. I’m fortunate to live in the same area as Laura, and she was the first author my mother-daughter book club connected with. We invited her to our meeting where we would discuss her book, A Certain Slant of Light, and she accepted the invitation. It just blew us all away that an author was actually going to be at our meeting. Then we got nervous. Would she think we didn’t know what we were talking about when we said what we thought of her book? What if we didn’t like it? Would there be awkward silence as we thought of questions to ask her?

There was no need to worry at all. Laura joined us for dinner before the discussion, and by the time we settled down to discuss the book we had gotten over our pre-meeting jitters.We did like A Certain Slant of Light, and Laura was able to answer several questions the moms and girls had about what we had read. We also talked to her about the process of writing a book and getting it published. It was a memorable evening that we wish we could have repeated more often. Here’s an interview with Laura I scheduled after we met:

I recently learned that Laura has written a sequel to A Certain Slant of Light, which I can’t wait to read as soon as it’s in print. You may also be interested in checking out another book she’s published called The Fetch, which I’ve previously reviewed here.

Author Kirby Larson Talks About Mother-Daughter Book Clubs

November 12, 2009

Kirby Larson


Just over a year ago I met author Kirby Larson while we were attending a Kidlit Blogging Conference here in Portland. I had interviewed Kirby about her writing life and her book, Hattie Big Sky, by email before that, but we hadn’t met in person until then. We got to know each other a bit over lunch, then finished out the conference.

Fast forward a few months to when I was writing Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs. I was searching for a book club mom of a group that had met with an author. I remembered a story Kirby told about meeting with a mother-daughter book club near her home in person. She put me in touch with Sheila, who not only shared a great story about meeting with Kirby, but who also talked about a service project her club had performed. I featured Sheila’s group and their projects in a few places in Book by Book as examples of clubs who were doing out-of-the-ordinary activities.

Connecting with authors like Kirby and moms like Sheila is one of the reasons I had a lot of fun writing Book by Book. Their stories are so interesting that I knew other moms would be able to take away great ideas for their own clubs after reading about them.

Hattie Big Sky gets my highest recommendation as a mother-daughter book club selection for groups with girls aged 11 and older. Kirby posted a blog post about mother-daughter book clubs and my book today. I look forward to visiting her blog with a guest post at the end of the month. She also has a great website with information about her books, Hattie Big Sky, and Two Bobbies, A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship and Survival. Her latest book, Nubs, is sure to be up there soon. Until then, Kirby is posting information about Nubs on her blog.

A Mother-Daughter Book Club Conversation at A Children’s Place

November 11, 2009

Last night I had the privilege of appearing with Heather Vogel Frederick at A Children’s Place bookstore in Portland to talk about mother-daughter book clubs. Heather is the author of the novels, The Mother-Daughter Book Club, Much Ado About Anne and the recently released Dear Pen Pal.

I’ve only spoken at a couple of bookstores before now, and this was the first time appearing with another author. What a treat it was. Of course, Heather’s an old pro at speaking, since she’s been on speaking tours in different parts of the country. So she made it easy for the newbie to feel comfortable. And it helps to have a receptive audience, which we did.

We talked about some of the ways fiction and non-fiction can enhance each other. For instance, in Heather’s book Dear Pen Pal, the girls in her mother-daughter book club (who live in Concord, Massachusetts) become Pen Pals with another group in Wyoming.  What a great idea for real life book clubs! After reading Heather’s book I started a Pen Pal exchange at that now has clubs from different parts of the country, and even one international group, making connections.

Real life mother-daughter book clubs also are increasingly making connections with the authors who write the books they read. Heather visits with clubs often, both electronically and in person when she can. Another author at the event, Rosanne Parry (Heart of a Shepherd) talked of her experience with a book club. Meeting with an author is a great way for the girls to feel truly connected with what they read.

After the reading I talked with a mom there who is considering starting a new club even though her daughter is only six. I’ve said before the ideal age—if there is one—to start a club is nine, but really if your daughter is motivated and you have friends who want to join with you, then it’s never really too early or too late to start. You may have to adjust your meetings for shorter attention spans if you start early, but it’s not too difficult to put together a format that will work.

Book Clubs Inspire Writing as Well as Reading

November 3, 2009

Writing the Life

Today I’m guest posting at Sage Cohen’s blog, Writing the Life Poetic. In my post I talk about how mother-daughter book clubs are inspiration for writing as well as reading. Read the post, then check out the rest of Sage’s great blog.