Welcome to Shared Thoughts Book Club Online Blog
Thank you for taking the time to join Shared Thoughts Book Club's online Blog/Bookclub.
Hopefully, by now you have read over our guidelines, reviewed our mission statement and looked through our photo's
Our goal is to invite as many people as possble to join in our monthly book club discussion online and you will be able to leave your comments/quesitons/ critique about the book selection each month.
Members of Shared Thoughts Book Club will make contributions to this Blog.
|Posted on August 10, 2019 at 11:25 AM||comments (1)|
Shared Thoughts is more than a book club. It’s a gathering of souls who meet monthly to discuss books. We come together in a person’s home, restaurant, or even a place of business. We have gone on excursions where we feast, drink libation and talk about the book of the month, how it affected us, or even if we cared about the text at all. A book is more than an object. It’s a feeling, an emotion.
Choosing a book is no small chore. We take our books seriously!
One evening, after one of our meetings, the secretary asked people in attendance, why did they choose a certain book. Here are some of the responses:
Shelly (Like a Fly on the Wall by Simone Kelly) – I chose it because it evoked a lot of thoughts for me due to the subject matter. I also thought it had a lot of interesting themes, it was whimsical enough and might make a great read to transition from winter reads into steamy summer reads.
Andrea (Children of Blood & Bones by Tomi Adeyemi) – Cover caught her attention. Name caught her. Book appeared spiritual.
Alethea (American Marriage by Tayari Jones) – Read synopsis and found it interesting. When she found out author was writing instructor at Rutgers, was proud and thought we would be able to get her for a meeting, until Oprah got involved.
Sabrina (Born a Crime by Trevor Noah) – Loves Trevor. She pre-read book and thought it was funny and educational. It explained so much about South Africa that we could learn from.
Marilyn (And Then There Was Me by Sadeqa Johnson) – She choose book because she felt book covered topics that women as a whole could relate too.
Tracey – She chooses her books based on word of mouth. Sometimes it’s just the season. Example: Summer deserves a quick read! Fall/winter deserves a dark mystery read. Or sometimes it just reading a 4-5 star rating book to see if it’s just that!
Monica (The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead) – Thought we would like it and learn from it. Culturally rich. Especially recommended it, since we were planning a trip to the African American Museum in Washington, DC.
Tami (Rabbit by Patricia Williams) – Usually reads books first before recommending them and found this book sad and funny at the same time. Pulled at her emotions in certain spots, and felt book had so many topics to discuss, such as abuse, love, poverty, rising from the ashes and making something out of yourself.
Every book club has their own way of selecting books. For instance, some clubs have their members select books at the beginning of the year for the upcoming months. Another club has their members put the names of books in a bag and they withdraw them & read the selection for when they meet again. Shared Thoughts protocol is that the person hosting upcoming month come to meeting and let us know which book we will be reading for next month. Yet some ladies are not ready to tell us what book they want us to read, because in their hunt for the perfect novel or memoir, they ran across so many books that they find it hard to narrow it down to just one! Book lovers are a crazy, loving bunch. So, the next time, you read this blog, and you all see a book selected, please know that a lot of thought, love and preparation went into that person’s choice.
Submitted by Tami Cleckley
|Posted on July 25, 2018 at 12:40 AM||comments (0)|
Book Club Etiquette Tips
BY: DIANE GOTTSMAN
Book clubs are a productive and sometimes educational way to bond with friends and help each other explore new ideas and concepts. Gather your friends together and try a weekly or monthly book club. By showing respect for each other, the club, and the book, you are sure to create a tradition that will last for many years.
Following a few simple ground rules will help you and your reading friends get the most out of the group. Use these book club etiquette tips to keep things fun, friendly, fair and interesting!
Take turns. Be careful not to let one or two people do all the talking. It’s not uncommon in any group for stronger personalities to dominate the conversation while quieter people have little chance of getting a word in edgewise. Since the point of a book club is a group discussion, keep a few tricks up your sleeve if you have some particularly chatty members who tend to hold the floor. For example, structure the conversation by going around the table to let each member have a chance to talk about one aspect of the book that was most significant to them and lead a mini-discussion on their topic of choice. Or ask a quieter member for their opinion to get a good conversation going.
Remember to talk about the book. All of you committed to spending a considerable amount of time reading the book. With that in mind, remember to actually get around to talking about it. Don’t let the evening slip away with only chatting about the kids, the latest reality TV show or gossip. If your book club gatherings usually devote 10 percent of time to discussing the book and 90 percent talking about everything else, warn prospective members before they study up on the latest read.
Ask the group before inviting new members to the club. This is a common courtesy to others in the group and the key to keeping it manageable. If everyone in the book club keeps inviting new members, you could quickly have a few dozen members, which makes it far more challenging to host and to have a good discussion.
Pick the ideal venue for a meeting. Hosting it at your home is great if that’s an option; you will have control over the food, drinks and noise level. If you choose a restaurant, wine bar or coffee shop, scope it out in advance to make sure your group can have a quiet area to yourselves long enough to discuss the book.
If you didn’t read the book, come prepared to ask questions about it. Some book clubs welcome all members even if they didn’t get a chance to read or finish the book. If you go, be prepared to participate in the discussion by asking questions and showing genuine interest. You can actually help facilitate the discussion. But don’t expect others to give you a complete rehash of the story. Also, resist the urge to lure others who have read the book into a non-book related conversation.
Be gracious in your comments. If you didn’t like the book, don’t trash it by saying “This book was terrible!” This and similar conversation-killing statements are disrespectful to others who did enjoy it and also to whomever chose the book. It’s fine to say that it wasn’t your cup of tea. Beyond that, find constructive ways to contribute to the conversation instead of making sweeping, dismissive comments.
Bring some questions for discussion. Some books come with their own discussion guide at the end. Also, there are several resources online to help you with this, such as ReadingGroupGuides.com.
Agree on how to choose the next read. Decide up front how you will choose books for the club to read. Will the host make the selection of the month? Will the group vote on the next book? Decide in advance and follow the rules.
Keep an open mind. Even if the next selection isn’t something you think you’re interested in, give it a chance. Part of the joy of book clubs is getting exposed to new books and new ideas that you wouldn’t have experienced before. And after all, isn’t that the point of reading in the first place?
Get lost in some great books,
|Posted on June 29, 2018 at 11:35 AM||comments (2)|
Submitted by Shared Thoughts Book Club
During the discussing at our monthly book club meeting, the members of Shared Thoughts had an intriguing conversation about our book selection for the month of June, Scattered Pieces by Nanette Buchanan. The reviews for this book were mixed, ranging from 2 stars to 4.5 stars, and we all agree that this medley of reviews brings forth the absolute best discussions. With this being said, it was almost unanimously agreed on that this book would have been much more enjoyable if it was edited properly because it was challenging to get through for most of us due to the unnecessary or lack of punctuation, misuse of grammar and the repetitiveness of content.
This isn't the first book, and I'm sure it will not be the last book, whereas we will have to endure reading a book with poor editing. We have encountered some books that were much worse...both in content and grammar. The fact that this books' subject matter was interesting, did keep the majority's interest anyhow.
As avid readers, we choose to spend our spare time reading; some of us even block out time in our daily life to read, so when you look at the time it takes to get through a 350 page book, you would want that time to be enjoyable, right. Well it isn't enjoyable when you have to continuously re-read sentences because of overly used or under used punctuation, characters jumping around and bad grammar in a whole. As a matter of fact, It is very frustrating!
Since writers are all phenomenal in their craft and creativity, after taking weeks, months and sometimes years to complete a book, consider your readers and have your book properly edited to avoid bad criticism for a good book. Readers support authors they enjoy reading, and if its hard to get through a book with a good subject matter because of bad grammar, that author takes the risk of losing a buyer of their next book.
|Posted on May 29, 2018 at 3:10 PM||comments (2)|
Book Club Experience: A Loaded Question
Submitted by Tami Cleckley
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones was the novel chosen for the month of May. With happiness, I opened the book, two weeks before the anticipated meeting and delved in. On the pages, I met Celestial and Roy, newly married, and before you know it, Roy is convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Thus, begins Celestial’s and Roy’s journey. I wondered if their marriage would stand the test of time and couldn’t wait to meet with my sisters in the group to hear what they thought of the book.
Forward, weeks later, when Shared Thoughts met up at the hostess’ house for our monthly meeting. We were in the midst of a heated debate about Celestial’s and Andre’s affair, when a question was brought forth: How does title correlate to subject? There was a slight pause, as we considered the question. One by one, everyone answered the query. Here are a few of the remarks:
- Alethea – Disappointed by title because there was no correlation between Title and Subject of book. Title actually brought you away from what An American Marriage, or any marriage is. Made marriage seem negative. Characters needed therapy.
- Shelly – Title didn’t match up. Felt like it was a black thing, bad title for book. Author could have come up with a better title.
- Tracey – Title very general, means different things everyone goes through.
- Larrie – Anything that goes on in a marriage, not a good title for book.
- Monica – Didn’t fit traditional black marriage.
- Andrea – Only in America. A marriage is a marriage.
- Desiree – Realistic behavior, title didn’t match what book is about.
- Marilyn – Title didn’t go with book.
- Sabrina – Didn’t get title. Only in America, racism, husband being railroaded by system.
- Tami – The ups & downs of marriage
Though Shared Thoughts wasn’t too crazy over the name of the book, there was never a lull in the conversation with so many issues to discuss. On a scale of 1-5 with 5 being the highest, the overall rating for the book we gave it… 4.75…Not bad for a book with a bad title.
5 New Book Clubs (You've Never, Ever Heard Of) A few fresh book-group ideas for revamping your gatherings, starting one of your own or joining one that surprises - and delights.
|Posted on September 20, 2017 at 4:20 PM||comments (0)|
5 New Book Clubs (You’ve Never, Ever Heard Of)
A few fresh book-group ideas for revamping your gatherings, starting one of your own or joining one that surprises—and delights.
By Leigh Newman - Taken from Oprah.com
1. The Under-One-Hour-of-Reading Club
We all love our book clubs, but there comes a time when even the most ideal group (think stimulating novels, insightful members, priceless wines, organic caviar, a live harpist in the corner who strums ethereal notes after every comment) gets a little stale or a little intimidating to outsiders. Take Joanna Goddard. She always wanted to join one, but she knew she was a slow reader and that she’d never finish a 300-page novel or memoir (hmmm...unlike the rest of us who always finish). Her idea? Start a club based on something that takes only 45 minutes to read—the old-fashioned in-depth magazine article. "Articles are so digestible," she says. "And they’re real-life, which makes them easier to relate to." Another bonus is that the ideas discussed in those pieces tend to be controversial, which leads to lots of fun, even heated debate. Goddard picks her articles from magazines like The New York Times, The New Yorker and Harper’s Magazine about topics that range from education to divorce. (But this O magazine piece on hidden agendas might also do the trick)
What works: Articles about dating, marriage, siblings, family conflicts-anything that lets members weave in personal context to the factual content. One big winner in Goddard’s group was this New York Times modern-love piece about a husband who announced to his wife: "I don’t love you anymore."
What doesn’t work: Articles that have only one argument, such as "too much alcohol is bad for you." Everybody agrees it’s true, and then the discussion pretty much dies.
2. The Choose-Your-Own-Novel Club (with a Side of Pizza)
If you’re the kind of person who buys armloads of juicy new novels, then rushes home, only to shove them on the shelf where they sit there...and sit there...and sit there...either because you’re too busy buying more books or you’re still trying to finish that fat magnificent paperback edition of Middlesex you started in 2004, this club is for you. Tiffany Sun, senior web editor at Oprah.com, was drowning in books but just couldn’t find the time, energy and/or willpower to read them. She and a close friend decided to approach reading "like dieting, where you have a buddy who keeps you on track with your eating plan, because she’s doing it too," Sun says. In their club, each member reads the books she already owns. When finished with a book, she enters the title, rating, her name and any comments she wants to make about it into a Google spreadsheet that’s shared with everyone. Here comes the part that’s not—in any way, shape or form—like dieting. Once everyone has finished three books (all of each person’s choosing), the group goes out for pizza to talk about their choices and experiences, as well as to celebrate with a sausage pie. "That reward hovering in the distance is a real motivator," Sun says. "I’m not going to lie to you. Without the pizza, I don’t think any of us would make it all the way to ‘The End,’ month after month."
What works: The Google spreadsheet keeps members connected as they read separately—and gives them a feeling of accomplishment. Sun’s group also inserts a colored bar that marks the end of every reading session and also lists the name of the pizza place they visited. (They check out a different restaurant each time.)
What doesn’t work: Members who read at different speeds. "One of our friends was able to read three books a month, while the rest of us were struggling to finish even one book in the same amount of time," Sun says. "That got discouraging pretty quickly."
3. The Club with a Never-Ending Supply of Books
This option is so obvious, you just might just overlook it. Many bookstores organize their own book clubs. "Now that everything everywhere happens over the Internet all the time," says Zach Zook, an coordinator for the small indie shop BookCourt in Brooklyn, "we’re seeing a real desire from customers for face-to face interactions." Sure, they come for the joy of talking about The Tiger’s Wife with strangers who in most cases have read the book (they’re not coming for the old friends and intricate hot appetizers), but they also like the honest reactions (nobody has to be very, very careful how she talks about, say, the lead character who cheats on her husband). Another perk? The flexibility. "You can come once, then not come again for four months," says Anne Cory-Watson, coordinator of BookCourt’s club. "Not to mention, we’re completely inclusive. Anybody can come. You don’t have to be insanely smart or well read. We’ll take anybody—and we have the room for them."
What works: Buying your book for the following meeting as soon as the current one ends, eliminating the errand of obtaining the next title and being relaxed about the summer when the group shrivels. ("They come back in the fall," Cory-Watson says. "Promise.")
What doesn’t work: Because of the luscious selection of new releases piled on nearby tables and shelves, you’ll be tempted to buy only recently published titles. But Cory-Watson’s group finds that many of the new books just weren’t strong enough to generate discussion. Now they read a mixture of recent and time-tested titles.
4. The Club That Shares the Same DNA
Over the winter holidays, during summer break at the beach house or any other time when your extended family gets together, try presenting each member with the same book. As Grandma, Aunt Jane, Mom and Uncle Frank’s new (shy) girlfriend hang by the fire at night or linger around the coffeepot in the morning, they’ll read (as opposed to lecturing on their particular politics or hinting as to who should mop the kitchen floor). At night, over dinner, the group will also have something relatively safe and engaging to discuss (as opposed to talking about exactly how dry the turkey is or why Aunt Jane decided to join a coven).
What works: Rotating who chooses the book, so that everyone gets a chance. Also, keeping the book a secret until everybody arrives. (This is not one of those things you want your older brother or grumpy Uncle Boris to weigh in on ahead of time.)
What doesn’t work: Forgetting to put each person’s name in big blocky letters on the title page, leading to books to getting confused, places lost, and irritation to set in.
5. The Singles Club
No, we don’t mean a pick-up book club (though asking out the guy who can recite the last page of Eat Pray Love is never a bad idea...). We’re talking about one the most fascinating and of-the-moment ways to read: Kindles Singles, published only for e-readers. Officially, Amazon defines these timely pieces as anything that falls into "a vast spectrum of reporting, essays, memoirs, narratives and short stories presented to educate, entertain, excite and inform." Unofficially, we understand them as novellas, short short-story collections (such as: Jodi Picoult’s Leaving Home of three brief pieces of fiction) and longer nonfiction works that are too short to be books (think Cristina Nehring’s riveting Journey to End of Light, about her Down-syndrome baby diagnosed with leukemia.) The bonus? Each one is less than the price of a magazine.
What works: E-readers help discussion by letting members search by word or phrase—ending the whole frustrating "I know I remember the passage! It was about a rose and dog...like at the end or like at the beginning!" You can also highlight key passages and use Twitter, Facebook, Meetup, Squidoo, Library Thing and other social platforms to discuss books between meetings.
What doesn’t work: Expecting everyone body to have the same e-reader. You can still buy a Kindles Single, no matter what device. It will work just fine.
This was borrowed from Oprah.com
|Posted on August 3, 2017 at 9:25 AM||comments (3)|
Submitted by Tami Cleckley
Books…let me explain to you what they do. Provide me with enormous pleasure, keep me up late at night reading when I don’t have a man around, stop me from cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, doing laundry. When I start reading, I can’t quit! Especially if it’s a good novel. Literally, I have to pull myself away from a book. Luckily, I live alone.
I am a book addict. I have all the signs of a person with a substance problem: I can’t stop what I’m reading on the drop of a dime or else I get withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety. There are times when I would rather be with a book than with people!
Classic signs of drug addiction:
- You need more & more of a substance to get the same effects (my drug of choice is a book)
- You look in other peoples’ medicine cabinets for drugs to take (I look on their book shelves)
- You spend a lot of time thinking about drugs, how to get more (when I finish 1 book, I need to start reading another immediately)
I’ve been searching the internet for a cure for this ailment. What I have discovered in my exploration, however, is other people who love the written word! My current book club, Shared Thoughts (get it, we share our thoughts) come together every month to discuss a book. It’s a joyous time…We eat, drink & talk about books! It’s a party every third Friday of the month that I look forward to.…It’s kind of like therapy.
In the group, I met another like-minded soul (her name shall remain anonymous) who reads more than I do! I didn’t think anyone could read more than me! She has a family, works two jobs and has a social life, yet she manages to read 2-3 books a week & I am talking about books with 250-400 pages. She once told me that she pulled out a book at a cook-out! Any spare moment, she has, she reads. I am not alone in my addiction, which makes me feel good. The only sad part about our group is that we meet only once a month…L…I know I should get help for my reading addiction. One day I will. But right now I am just going to enjoy the next book club pick of next month.
|Posted on July 24, 2017 at 10:15 AM||comments (3)|
Book Clubs come and Book Club Go, but to sustain a book club, the members must be commmitted to making it work....here are a few Do's and Don't I found online to help you with your book club :-)
Shared Thoughts have been in existance since April 2000 and we have been able to sustain by follow these 4 strategies:
- We have written guidelines
- Read 100 pages
- Meet every third weekend
- Circle of Hostess', hostess decides on meeting location
10 Do's and Don'ts for a Happy Book Club
Adrian Liang on May 12, 2016
Maybe you want to launch a book club but don’t know where to begin. Or maybe your book club opened strong but excitement has waned. Here are ten tips to start—or jump-start—your book club.
Do use the first meeting to lay out the ground rules. It’s fine if you want a book club that’s more about sipping wine than reading; just make sure that all members are on the same page about the reading expectations. Now is also the time to decide as a group how you’re picking the books, how often you want to meet, and where you’re meeting.
Don’t be a dictator. There’s a line between being in charge and being bossy; try not to step over it. If you find yourself picking all the books and inviting all the new members, take a step back to consider whether you’re in danger of smothering your club. At the next meeting, ask members if they want the club to operate differently.
Do reward the regular readers. If you belong to a book club that spends only five minutes on the book because most people didn’t read past the first 100 pages (if that), set up a system for rewarding the members who do complete the book. Some examples: a bottle of wine for the person/people who read every book five months in a row, or if you finish all the books three months in a row, you get to pick the next book selection.
Don’t lose momentum. If you let too much time go by between meetings, the club’s enthusiasm can wane (and eager readers might forget book details). Try to meet at least once every two months. If you’re having trouble scheduling a large group of people, try using Doodle. It’s far easier than a tangled email chain.
Do read outside your comfort zone. Pick a theme everyone wants to explore (say, food memoirs) and read several in a row. Or expand into areas you haven’t read in a long time—perhaps poetry, graphic novels, or middle grade books—to get a dose of new material and new excitement.
Don’t assume book clubs are just for gals. A book club with a mix of men and women tends to read a wider range of books because different people contribute different interests. All three book clubs I’ve been in included men, and now I wouldn’t join a club that didn’t have them.
Do be open to change. Perhaps the way books are picked is not working for your members. Perhaps the club size is too big or too small. Perhaps members feel like they don’t have enough time to read between meetings. A book club is supposed to be fun, not a grueling reading workout. Adjust on the fly and communicate clearly.
Don’t let one person sink your whole club. The problem I’ve seen most often is a member who doesn’t read the books and steers the conversation away from the books as quickly as possible. Have a private discussion with the member and ask if the book selection isn’t to his or her taste.
Do bring in new members. One of the book clubs I was in lasted seven years and had many people rotate in and out—and I made a number of great new friends through that club. Let the other club members know that they can and should recruit their friends to join.
Don’t get discouraged if your club fizzles away. People get busy, you might have read a few stinkers in a row, or the club members aren’t meshing. Put your book club “on a break” and decide whether you want to tweak the club you have, take a year off to rebuild your own enthusiasm, or start a brand-new book club.
Most important: Have fun! There are few things as joyful as sharing a good book with friends.
Adrian Liang has started three book clubs on two different coasts. Her current club focuses on food and travel books and most recently read Jacques Pepin’s memoir, The Apprentice.
Portions of this article were previously posted on SheKnows and Bustle.