Keeping it in the Family

Here at TKE, we know first hand that book clubs come in all shapes and sizes. Here’s an interesting take from one of our long-time customers!

Just prior to our 250+ people family reunion, I sent out a mass email asking everyone who would be interested in participating in a family book chat to come prepared with at least one book title and be prepared to discuss that book. This turned out great!

During the afternoon while the babies were napping we stole an hour for our book chat. About thirty family members participated (from around 16 to 70+ years old).  I began by establishing the procedures: (1) We would go clockwise around the circle; (2) Each person would concisely introduce their one book (without giving everything away); and (3) Anyone could comment on another’s book. I would keep a running list of books recommended (also author and who recommended the book).  

As we began taking our turns, it was fun to see how excited each person became while discussing “their” book. Comments varied on controversial books. Many in the group began writing down titles of books they wanted to begin reading as soon as they returned home. Oftentimes, someone would recommend a book that would remind someone else of another book, and procedure two was thrown out the window — it was difficult to write fast enough to keep up on the list that was being created!

The book chat lasted one hour; that seemed to be long enough for a group that size.  It was interesting to note, however, that most of those participating in the book chat didn’t leave the room after the hour was up. Instead, smaller groups were being formed everywhere.  Several family members came up to me to either copy a recommendation from my list, or to add another title. Readers know that wherever other readers are to be found, conversations begin easily, and so a relaxed atmosphere was naturally created for family members (especially those just married in) to meet and visit with each other.   

A few days after returning from the reunion I attempted to type up a master list of the book recommendations. I say, “attempted,” because I received many emails and phone calls from family members wanting to add to the list! After a couple days it was finally finished. I set up the list so that it can be viewed by title or recommender, and added several titles from my book journals with short comments about each book. The book list is now about twelve pages — and continues to grow as I receive emails from my wonderful, book-loving, readaholic family members. 

Because the number of recommendations increases each day, I have decided to send the list out monthly. I have also set up a family, by-invitation-only, reading group online.

I have thoroughly enjoyed learning which genres of text different family members favored, and listening to everyone’s comments and opinions. I have also enjoyed visiting on the phone or through the computer with family members as we have discussed books and authors. The next reunion is in two years — I have to get busy, so many great books to read before then! ~ Traci England

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