How to Start a Book Club

*Brought to you by Bookish (our sister company)!

So, you want to start a book club. Sounds easy, right? Think again. Putting together a book club is trickier than it sounds, but we’re here with some pro tips to help your literary circle thrive.


Focus on the members
One of the reasons why book clubs fail is that members don’t read the material. For your first book club, we recommend starting small and extending an invitation to two or three friends who you know are serious about diving into a new book each month. A small club also means it will be easier to coordinate schedules when it comes time to plan meetings and to find common ground when picking new titles.

Pick the right book
A bad read can be the kiss of death for a book club. Some clubs choose to set a page limit, to ensure everyone has time to read the book and to stop anyone from picking Infinite Jest (which clocks in at over 1,100 pages). Some blacklist genres that few are interested in. But we think the best thing to do is to encourage your members to make thoughtful choices and listen to the other readers. You might find a classic that no one has read, or you might learn that they’d prefer to read new books (in which case a trip to your local indie bookstore could help make the selection easier).

It should go without saying, but don’t force anyone to read a book they don’t want to. If someone takes a hard pass on a book, let them skip that month or be open to changing the selection.

Be flexible
You may want to dive in with meetings twice a month, but that can be tough to schedule if you hope to have all of your members attend. Start by getting together once every 30 days, and don’t fuss over meeting at the same time or day each month. The books and discussion are what really matters, not having a set schedule.

Accept all formats
Kelly likes hardcovers, Kirsten reads paperbacks, Elizabeth loves ebooks, and Catherine prefers library books. So what? Pick books that are easily accessible to all of your readers and let them dive into the story in the format of their choice.

Location, location, location
Bars and restaurants may seem alluring, but are often loud and can make discussions difficult. You want a place that is comfortable, quiet, and welcoming. Very often, the best location for a book club is in the home of one of the members. If that doesn’t work, try a coffee shop or even a park if the weather is nice.

Wine and dine them
Half the fun of a book club is getting to eat and drink with your friends. Whether you have everyone contribute or leave the prep to the host, ensure that each meeting has enough food and drink for everyone. And, of course, be mindful of dietary restrictions and allergies.

Discuss the book
This should go without saying, but book clubs can very quickly turn from a discussion on metaphors and foreshadowing to a catch-up session between old friends. It’s tempting to let the conversation flow organically, but it’s best to be prepared with a list of discussion questions or thought-provoking comments. Many popular book club reads have discussion questions you can find online, or you can ask each member to come up with two questions to pose to the group.

Think outside of the box
The traditional book club structure may not work for you and your group. Don’t be afraid to mix things up a bit. Our editor is in a book club that takes its inspiration from Tequila Mockingbird. They read a book and make the corresponding drink at their monthly meetings. Another member of the Bookish team is in a book club that assigns a theme each month (rather than a single title) and allows members to read a book that they feel fits the theme. If a standard formula works for you, go for it. If you want to try something different, don’t be afraid.

Branch out
Is an author coming to speak at your local bookstore? Take the club on a field trip! Is there a writer’s walking tour in your city? Go for a stroll! Attend library events, go to festivals, and don’t keep your club shackled to a living room.

Have we inspired you to start your own book club? Gather your friends and then browse NetGalley or our winter previews for a look at the best books out this season.

Read more articles by Bookish here!

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Book

Cover Love

We’ve rounded up covers we love, and we hope you will too. We’ve also gathered all of your cover votes from this month, and your most loved cover is…The List by Patricia Forde!

Click on each cover to read the full description, request (or wish for) the title, and “Like” the cover if you haven’t already. If you’ve read these titles, don’t forget to share feedback with the publisher and with your friends and followers.

Tell us in the comments below, which covers you’re loving right now, and they could be included in next month’s Cover Love!

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Library Reads

LibraryReads List

February 2017

LibraryReads has announced the top ten books available in February that librarians across the country love. You can request or wish for the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the LibraryReads site.

If you are a librarian, you can nominate titles for the LibraryReads list via NetGalley – learn more here!

Additional LibraryReads Titles:

A Piece of the World: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline
(William Morrow • 9780062356260)

Garden of Lamentations: A Novel by Deborah Crombie
(William Morrow • 9780062271631)

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Reader Spotlight

Blog name: Reading Reality
Blog URL: http://www.readingreality.net
Your name: Marlene Harris

Let’s start with your origin story - how long have you been blogging about Fiction, and why did you start?

Reading Reality’s sixth anniversary is coming up on April 4. I actually celebrate a Blogo-Birthday on April 4-5, as my own birthday is April 5. I’m a bit older than 6, though.

I began Reading Reality when we moved from Gainesville FL to Atlanta. We came for my husband’s job, but 2011 was still during the Great Recession. I wanted something to do that would still connect with books, and would keep me busy and intellectually stimulated. One of the things I enjoy about working in libraries is being able to help readers find books they will love, and Reading Reality is an extension of that.

The blog was originally called “Escape Reality, Read Fiction”. I got that from a t-shirt. But when I started doing library consulting, “Reading Reality” sounded a bit more like the name of a company, so that’s what stuck. Occasionally people still ask me about real estate in Pennsylvania.

Are there particular subgenres that you prefer or find more interesting at the moment? Are there any trends that you are excited to see come or go?

My go-to genres are science fiction and fantasy, but I also read a lot of romance and a fair amount of mystery. I’m pretty eclectic. I particularly like the places where genres mingle, so things like science fiction romance and historical mystery always get me reading. When I’m in a reading slump, I turn to urban fantasy and that brings me right back to the joy of reading.

As far as trends go, I’m kind of sorry to see steampunk fading a bit. I loved that blend of historical, SF, fantasy and often romance. The best of the breed were generally terrific and terrifically inventive.

Do you find your background as a librarian influences which books you choose and how you review them? And, are you still involved in the library community?

I am still very involved in the library community. I am currently the librarian at TAPPI, the Technical Association for the Pulp and Paper Industry. They have a small but significant collection of materials in the industry, and I answer research requests and provide document delivery.

I’m also a member of the American Library Association Notable Books Council, a committee that has picked the best literary fiction, nonfiction and poetry every year since 1944. And I review for Library Journal.

Some of the books I choose to review are for my library interests, but most I pick just because they look either intriguing, fun, or both. Being a librarian, having done readers’ advisory work, does influence the way I review. If there are “read-alikes” for the book I’m reviewing, I make sure to give them a mention, no matter when they were published. And if I’m reviewing a book in a series, I always tell readers whether or not they really need to have read the rest of that series, of if they can just jump in anywhere. Discovering that you are reading book 5 of a series and are completely lost is a VERY disappointing experience.

Aside from your reviews, you have a variety of different features on your blog – which is your current favorite?

I like different features for very different reasons. Blog Hops are terrific for getting traffic. I do Stacking the Shelves and the Sunday Post because they help me stay organized. I hope people enjoy those features, but they do serve a function for me as the blogger.

My favorite features have been Amy Daltry’s semi-regular guest reviews. She picks interesting books, including a lot of genre classics, and she writes a terrific review, whether the book is terrific or not. She’s clear and honest about what she likes and doesn’t like in a book, and it is great to have the opportunity to feature a reviewer whose perspectives are different from my own.

The most fun feature I have is one that I wish I was able to do more often, and that’s joint reviews with either Cass or Amy. It is particularly fun and frequently hilarious when we are able to write together in real time.

Which upcoming book(s) on NetGalley are you the most excited about reading and recommending to your followers? And are there any covers on NetGalley that you’re loving?

Cass and I have a joint review for Etched in Bone by Anne Bishop coming in March that made both of us ROFL. It’s not that the book is funny, it isn’t and it’s not intended to be. But we love to out-snark each other.

I’m very excited to read In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen. I’ve heard such marvelous things about her work, but this is my chance to get in at the beginning of one of her series.

My favorite upcoming cover is Twelve Angry Librarians by Miranda James. The joke going around Facebook among librarians is, “What, only 12?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lightning Round!

Your blog in two sentences:

Evidence of a life either misspent or well spent with books, by someone who can’t resist sharing.

Your favorite character in a book or series:

Sherlock Holmes. I have an absolute weakness for Holmes pastiches, and I love Laurie R. King’s Sherlock Holmes/Mary Russell series.

Your favorite 2 authors for Fiction titles:

Only 2? Inconceivable!

Science fiction: John Scalzi
Fantasy: L.E. Modesitt Jr.
Mystery: Louise Penny
Historical Mystery: Charles Todd
Science Fiction Romance: Anna Hackett
Fantasy Romance: Jeffe Kennedy
Romance: Jayne Ann Krentz/Amanda Quick/Jayne Castle

And to finish off our interview, if you could go on a road trip with any author, dead or alive, who would it be, and where would you go?

John Scalzi, hands down. And conveniently, he is still alive. I would love to go on a book tour, or even part of one, with him. I’ve heard him perform at several, and he’s always both thoughtful and funny, as he is on his blog at Whatever, although the ratio of thoughtful to funny there is slightly different. And I’d get to quiz him about his upcoming books. And possibly meet his current cats, the Scamperbeasts.

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IndieNext

Indie Next List

February edition

The American Booksellers Association has announced the selections for the February Indie Next list, drawn from the recommendations of indie booksellers throughout the US. You can request many of these titles on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the ABA site

If you are a bookseller, you can nominate titles for the Indie Next list via NetGalley, and receive special access to new galleys via the Digital White Box program. Sign up today!

 

Additional Indie Next titles:

A Separation: A Novel by Katie Kitamura (Riverhead Books • 9780399576102)

Perfect Little World: A Novel by Kevin Wilson (Ecco • 9780062450326)

300 Arguments: Essays by Sarah Manguso (Graywolf Press • 9781555977641)

The Lonely Hearts Hotel: A Novel by Heather O’Neill (Riverhead Books • 9780735213739)

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Top Ten UK Books for February 2017

Deciding our Top Ten each month is always a tough yet hugely enjoyable process – but this month has proved to be the most difficult so far. There were so many exciting titles it took us much longer than usual to finalise the list – and even now it’s a shame that some titles didn’t quite make it.

That said, we really love these books and hope you’ll feel the same way. You’ll probably already recognise Ragdoll and The Girl Before – but do request if you haven’t before as they’ll be some of the most talked about thrillers in 2017. We’re also very keen on The Lonely Hearts Hotel and t hink it could go on to be something of sleeper hit. Do also look out for Pachinko which we think will be one of the books fighting for all the big literary prizes later in the year.

As this is the last Books of the Month for 2016, we’d just like to thank you for being part of NetGalley. We really appreciate your reviews and feedback – and we’d love to see even more in 2017. Wishing you warm and wonderful holidays!

BOOK OF THE MONTH

Ragdoll
Daniel Cole
Trapeze
UK Edition
AU Edition
German Language Edition

Already a massive hit with NetGalley members, Ragdoll is shaping up to be the high-concept thriller of 2017. Its combination of suspense, gore and well-drawn, engaging characters is a real winner. This is mystery writing at its most intense.

When a body is discovered with the dismembered parts of six victims stitched together like a puppet, the press quickly name the horrific discovery the ‘ragdoll’. Assigned to the shocking case are Detective William ‘Wolf’ Fawkes, recently reinstated to the London Met, and his former partner Detective Emily Baxter. The ‘Ragdoll Killer’ taunts the police by releasing a list of names to the media, and the dates on which he intends to murder them. With six people to save, can Fawkes and Baxter catch a killer with the eyes of the world watching their every move?

Dear Friend, From My Life I Write to You In Your Life
Yiyun Li
Hamish Hamilton
UK Edition
US/CA Edition

Yiyun Li’s fiction is marked by telling details, acute insight into the human experience, and sublime sentences – all of which she brings to this searing and luminous memoir of a life lived with books and haunted by depression. Growing up in China, Li watched her mother suffer from mental health issues, and years later, as an immigrant in another country, she battles her own. Through it all she is sustained by her deep connection to literature, and by two central questions: why write? And why live?

My Sister's Bones
Nuala Ellwood
Penguin
UK Edition

In a year that will be dominated by psychological thrillers, My Sister’s Bones already stands out as a complex and intriguing take on the genre. War reporter Kate Rafter is back from Syria, plagued by dreams of the horrors taking place there. But there are other painful memories, ones that her sister and Kate cannot quite escape. When their mother dies, they are forced back to the family home. A home full of deadly secrets waiting to be exposed. Twisty, compelling and consistently surprising.  

The End of Eddy
Édouard Louis
Harvill Secker
UK Edition

On first publication in France, The End of Eddy became a sensation, winning plaudits for its writing, and provoking national debates on social inequality, sexuality and violence. Édouard Louis’s fictionalised account of his life escaping from his unbearable childhood is incendiary yet tender, compassionate yet visceral, and written with startling clarity and vigour. This is vital, unflinching and thought-provoking fiction – a novel that confronts the issues of our time head on .

The Girl Before
JP Delaney
Quercus
UK Edition
US Edition
French Language Edition

The Girl Before takes domestic terror to a new level, in this spellbinding Hitchcockian thriller. Jane has found the rental opportunity of a lifetime. It’s a beautiful ultra-minimalist house, but it comes at a cost. She can live there so long as she abides by a long list of exacting rules created by the house’s architect. After moving in, she discovers that a previous tenant, Emma, met a mysterious death there – and starts to wonder if her own story will be a re-run of the girl before…

Radio Boy
Christian O'Connell
HarperCollins Children's Books
UK Edition

Taking all his experience from his award-winning radio show, Christian O’Connell’s first children’s book is a funny and sweet story of a boy who becomes a star in his own back yard. Spike’s an average 11-year-old, but after becoming the first person ever to be sacked from hospital radio, he sets up  – with some help from his friends – a studio in the garden shed and starts broadcasting as Radio Boy. Week by week, word gets around and soon Spike is a star… if only people knew it was actually him…

The Lonely Hearts Hotel
Heather O'Neill
riverrun
UK Edition

Already lauded by the likes of Helen Oyeyemi, Miranda July and Emily St John Mandel, The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a riot of invention, love and fairytales. From the underbellies of war-time Montreal and Prohibition New York to a theatre of magic where anything is possible, this is the story of two orphans, Rose and Pierrot, who dreamt as children of a whole invented world, and as adults are determined to make it real. Dazzling, glittering and bursting with imagination, this is a true spectacle of a novel.

Pachinko
Min Jin Lee
Head of Zeus
UK/AU Edition
US Edition

An epic story that encompasses eight decades and four generations, Pachinko is a novel to immerse yourself in, to follow the lives of these exceptionally drawn characters as they traverse the world and the brickbats that come their way. It begins with an unlikely marriage in early-Twentieth Century Korea, and the birth of a beloved daughter, Sunja. It is the beginning of a life that will take in war, immigration, love, death – and everything else life has to offer. 

We Come Apart
Sarah Crossan & Brian Conaghan
Bloomsbury Children's
UK/AU Edition

Bringing together two of YA’s hottest new properties – Sarah Crossan (One) and Brian Conaghan (When Mr Dog Bites) – We Come Apart is a heart-breaking, beautifully told tale of love, identity and dreams of better lives. When Jess meets Nicu, she can’t imagine she’d ever fall for him. But as they get closer, their secrets come to the surface like bruises. The only safe place they have is with each other. But they can’t be together, forever, and stay safe – can they?

Charlotte
David Foenkinos
Canongate
UK Edition

An international bestseller, Charlotte is based on the heart-breaking true story of an exceptional woman living through terrifying, deadly time. Charlotte Soloman is born into a family stricken by suicide, and in a country beset by war. She escapes through her gift for painting, and later through her love for a brilliant musician. But clouds are forming, not just in her own mind, but over the whole of Europe. And when the Nazi Party come to power, she knows she will have to flee…

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Cover Love

16 Top Covers for 2016

We’ve rounded up the top 16 most loved covers that you voted on in 2016! Click on each cover to read the full description, request (or wish for) the title, and “Like” the cover if you haven’t already.  If you’ve already read these books, don’t forget to share feedback with the publisher and with your friends and followers. 

Tell us in the comments below which covers you’re loving right now, and they could be included in January’s Cover Love!

Your #1 most loved cover of 2016 was… The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco!

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Library Reads

LibraryReads List

January 2017

LibraryReads has announced the top ten books available in January that librarians across the country love. You can request or wish for the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the LibraryReads site.

If you are a librarian, you can nominate titles for the LibraryReads list via NetGalley – learn more here!

 

Additional LibraryReads Titles:

Her Every Fear: A Novel by Peter Swanson
(William Morrow • 9780062427021)

Hearthstone by Katharine Elle White
(Harper Voyager • 9780062451941)

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IndieNext

Indie Next List

January edition

The American Booksellers Association has announced the selections for the January Indie Next list, drawn from the recommendations of indie booksellers throughout the US. You can request many of these titles on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the ABA site

If you are a bookseller, you can nominate titles for the Indie Next list via NetGalley, and receive special access to new galleys via the Digital White Box program. Sign up today!

Additional Indie Next titles:

Fever Dream: A Novel by Samanta Schweblin (Riverhead Books • 9780399184598)

Her Every Fear: A Novel by Peter Swanson (William Morrow • 9780062427021)

Little Deaths: A Novel, by Emma Flint (Hachette • 9780316272476)

Freebird: A Novel by Jon Raymond (Graywolf Press • 9781555977603)

The Midnight Cool: A Novel by Lydia Peelle (Harper • 9780062475466)

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Library Reads

LibraryReads List

Favorite of Favorites 2016

LibraryReads has announced their Favorite of Favorites list of books from 2016 that librarians across the country love. You can Request or Wish for the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the LibraryReads site

If you are a librarian, you can nominate titles for the monthly LibraryReads list via NetGalley!

Additional LibraryReads titles, not currently available on NetGalley:

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
(Harper • 9780062491794)

The Nest  by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
(Ecco • 9780062414212)

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