Roz Reads Celebrates 25 Years

October 11, 2012

We recently caught up with Roz Sandack who just celebrated her 25th year moderating her book club, Roz Reads! We’ve been happily associated with her for so many of those years and always look forward to seeing her and her book club members at The King’s English at the end of each month. This past September they read My Ántonia (again) because it was Roz’s inaugural book for her club.

TKE: Why My Ántonia?
Roz Sandack: My Ántonia was the first book I discussed with my book groups in September of 1987. It’s an important literary classic, one that many of us had to read in school as young people. It bears rereading again and is a marvelous discussion book.

TKE: What have been some of your favorite books over the years and why have they worked well in discussions?
Roz: Books for discussion need to have psychological depth and interesting ideas to explore. Occasionally, one of my readers will request that I include a “happy” book on my reading list. What’s to discuss in a happy book?

Some favorite discussion books:

TKE: Have there been any colossal flops?
Roz: Definitely evenings with lackluster discuss-ers and discussions that have tanked. I’m not sure what or who’s to blame. It just happens occasionally, and it doesn’t feel very good.

TKE: What is your secret ingredient for a successful meeting?
Roz: Here’s the formula: good book + preparation and enthusiasm (mine and the readers)= successful discussion. If every reader brings a question or comment to the group, everyone is much more involved in the discussion. Oh, and here’s another secret ingredient: listening. It’s important to listen to each other’s comments. Listening to others nurtures new ideas and that’s how we grow.

TKE: Do you have a funny story that you’d like to tell?
Roz: There are many hilarious moments, but probably the most surprisingly funny story is the time a group of close girlfriends hired me to discuss a book with them. I picked The Scarlet Letter by Nathanial Hawthorne. They decided to watch the movie together instead of read the book, only the movie wasn’t based on the classic. It was a vampire thriller. Needless to say, the “reading” group unraveled pretty quickly.

Congrats Roz, and here’s to 25 more years of great books and great discussions!

Roz Reads October 2012 selection: The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes.

You can catch up with Roz on her website or visit the Book Clubs page on TKE’s website for more information.

Keeping it in the Family

September 3, 2008

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