Dear ones, for today’s write 28 days 02.22.2022 I thought I would tell you a little about my online book club, Come Read With Me. We just added our 110th member!! And have been reading together almost 4 years now. Isn’t that just crazy? I started the book club in 06.2018, thinking maybe a few of my friends and I could read together that summer. Here we are all this time later still reading together…and it’s not even summer.
Thought today I would tell you about how the book club works. And maybe then you will join us and be our 111th member!!
Just a reminder: Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After occasionally uses affiliate links which are usually italicized. If you click or make a purchase from an italicized link provided I may receive a very small commission at no cost to you. Thank you for your support.
Write 28 Days 02.22.2022
Actually, publishing this post on the evening of 02.23. Yesterday was slightly dreadful with issues with my mom. Without going into too much detail, she has begun hallucinating. She thought someone burst into her apartment in the middle of the night Monday and told her she had to leave immediately. So, she jumped (as much as a 94-year-old can) out of bed and walked to her door, opened it and then fell. She began screaming and they found her crumpled on the floor in front of her refrigerator with what looked like a broken leg. I received a phone call at 2:00 am El Paso time notifying me she was on the way to the ER. Spent most of yesterday on the phone with the ER and doctors and mom’s apartment facility, my brother and my sister.
This post was almost finished yesterday morning but I didn’t have the energy to work on it. Which means I missed publishing anything for #write28days. That makes 2 days where LIFE has interfered with my writing challenge. But in positive news, I didn’t totally lose it yesterday!! I tried to go with the flow. And I kept in mind Sunday’s good church service message.
Come Read With Me
For the first couple of years, I just called the group “Our Online Book Club”. Or something equally catchy and clever. The club’s first members were my sister, sisters-in-law, daughters and a few teaching friends. But when I started mentioning the group on my blog and my own personal FB page, the membership increased to include blogging buddies and gals I have known and grown to love through the Get Your Pretty On style challenges. And then friends of friends and family. Sounds like an ad for a cell phone plan.
I changed the name to “Come Read with Me” 2 years ago, after the televised reading program I did for 10 years here in El Paso. A number of the members are former teacher buddies of mine who recognized the new name immediately.
As I mentioned above, this week we added our 110th member. Candy is a friend of a friend of a friend. I would venture to guess that I have never met the majority of members and yet, I would call them all friends. On some of my most difficult days, the gals in the book club and the club itself have given me a renewed sense of purpose. And a large circle of sweet, sweet friends.
How the Book Club Works
Before you ask to join, it’s probably only fair that I tell you a little bit about how the book club works.
Selecting Our Book Each Month
About a week before the end of each month, I start putting together the book summaries for the titles under consideration for the coming month’s read. Each consideration list features 8-10 titles from which members will vote. This year, I am adding at least one nonfiction book, a biography or autobiography or memoir. Usually at least one historical fiction title. The rounding out the list are current well received novels.
I copy and paste into a Word document the book summaries provided by the publishers to Goodreads/Amazon for each book. I include the rating for each title on Amazon and Goodreads, and add a copy of the cover image. Here’s one of the entries on the March consideration list.
Book Summary for Our Consideration List
The Saints of Swallow Hill
by Donna Everhart
4.50 out of 5 stars on Amazon
4.15 out of 5 stars on Goodreads
Where the Crawdads Sing meets The Four Winds as award-winning author Donna Everhart’s latest novel immerses readers in its unique setting—the turpentine camps and pine forests of the American South during the Great Depression. This captivating story of friendship, survival, and three vagabonds’ intersecting lives will stay with readers long after turning the final page.
It takes courage to save yourself…
In the dense pine forests of North Carolina, turpentiners labor, hacking into tree trunks to draw out the sticky sap that gives the Tar Heel State its nickname, and hauling the resin to stills to be refined. Among them is Rae Lynn Cobb and her husband, Warren, who run a small turpentine farm together.
Though the work is hard and often dangerous, Rae Lynn, who spent her childhood in an orphanage, is thankful for it—and for her kind if careless husband. When Warren falls victim to his own negligence, Rae Lynn undertakes a desperate act of mercy. To keep herself from jail, she disguises herself as a man named “Ray” and heads to the only place she can think of that might offer anonymity—a turpentine camp in Georgia named Swallow Hill.
Swallow Hill is no easy haven. The camp is isolated and squalid, and commissary owner Otis Riddle takes out his frustrations on his browbeaten wife, Cornelia. Although Rae Lynn works tirelessly, she becomes a target for Crow, the ever-watchful woods rider who checks each laborer’s tally. Delwood Reese, who’s come to Swallow Hill hoping for his own redemption, offers “Ray” a small measure of protection, and is determined to improve their conditions. As Rae Lynn forges a deeper friendship with both Del and Cornelia, she begins to envision a path out of the camp. But she will have to come to terms with her past, with all its pain and beauty, before she can open herself to a new life and seize the chance to begin again.
Using Survey Monkey, I create a survey where the members will vote for their favorite book for the coming month’s read. I send the link to the survey in an email to which the book summaries are attached. The members usually have about 4 days to vote before I close the survey and announce the winner on our book club Facebook page. More than once, we’ve had to have a tie breaker because several books were tied for first place.
When we have determined our winning title, I will offer a giveaway for a copy or copies of that book. I will pose a question somehow related to the theme of the winning book, and members guess the answer. For example, our February book is The Paris Bookseller by Kerri Maher. I asked members ‘guess what kind of bookstore I have worked in’ for a chance at winning a copy of the book.
I use affiliate links for books mentioned in my blog posts. And I create affiliate links for the first-place book we select each month. Any money I make from readers clicking on or purchasing through my links goes back into the club to purchase more giveaway books.
Reading and Discussing
Like to refer to our group as informal and low key. There is never any pressure for members to read the winning book. And never any pressure to participate in the discussion of each month’s winner. I will ask the group questions, share my favorite quotes and encourage others to do the same.
Here’s a beautiful quote from The Paris Bookseller:
“Not every star is like the étoile polar, chérie. Some are more elusive, more subtle. But they are no less brilliant, no less important.”
― The Paris Bookseller
I enjoy the comments, interpretations, reviews of the other members because they often point out ideas, details I have missed in my reading.
Finding Books to Vote On
You might ask how do I find the books for each month’s consideration list? Glad you asked!! I consult Goodreads and Amazon for books, as well as the blogs of some of my favorite bloggers for book suggestions. Also peruse Pinterest for recommendations. And it is there, where I generally judge books by their covers. If a book doesn’t have an attractive cover, I don’t usually take a second look. Yes, that sounds really superficial and shallow but it’s true. This is my Pinterest board dedicated to possible book club reads.
On Goodreads, there is a Browse tab at the top of the page that provides a pull-down menu for searching for books in a dozen or more different ways. Recommendations, New Releases, Goodreads Choice Award winners as well as by genre.
I try to select only books with a minimum of 4 out of 5 stars rating on Amazon and Goodreads. And I check for editorial reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, People, Library Journal. Also try to avoid the flash-in-the-pan books. The ones that everyone is reading, whether they are any good or not. And I try not to suggest titles by the same authors over and over. No Nora Roberts, John Grisham, James Patterson, or Danielle Steele.
We have a bibliography to which I add the books on each month’s consideration list. That way, when members are looking for something new to read in between book club selections, they can consult the bibliography.
Our March Book
We have just begun voting for our March read. There are 9 books on this month’s consideration list. So far, 8 of the books have votes. I always feel like a proud mama when each of the books I have recommended interests a club member enough to earn their vote. My greatest hope with this book club is to inspire my friends to read more. And to discover books they might not have found on their own. Most months I don’t vote because I don’t want to sway things, one way or the other. That way I wind up reading books that I might not have read otherwise.
Here’s how things look one day into voting for our March book
Can’t wait to see what the group decides on.
Here are the winning books for the last 6 months.
Enjoyed every one of them. And probably would not have read any of them had it not been for this club. Selfishly, I hope the club sticks together for a while to come so I can continue reading and widening my horizons.
Do you now or have you ever belonged to a book club? If so, why did you join? I looked for articles that explain the benefits of reading with a book club but there are very few written about adult book clubs. Although, I imagine the benefits for adults are similar to those for children. But I am going to ask my members to identify what they see as the advantages to belonging to Come Read With Me. Stay tuned.
Saddened and nervous about the news that Russia has begun bombing Ukraine. Worried where this is going to lead. Hold your loved ones close. This is a crazy world we are living in.
Hugs and kisses,
I’m so very sorry to read about your mother. What a stress. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for her.
A book club always sounds so good to me, but no one around me likes to read, lol.
I can’t tell you how pleased I am that you started the book club! Honestly Leslie, it’s made me widen my subject tastes, there are some we have read that I would never have picked off a shelf if left to my own devices. I love the fact that there is no pressure to read and discuss at the end of the month if you don’t want to, although I like reading other people’s comments because it is interesting how people can read things in different ways.
Thank you for reawakening my love of books! It was always there, but sometimes I’d got in a rut of reading the same type of book, I hope member number 111 soon joins the club!
I am so sorry to read about your mom! I am sure that is so stressful to deal with when you can’t be right there. Your book club sounds like a lot of fun and I see that you have been reading some great books! I have read 1/2 of the books you guys have read these past 6 months. I’d love to join!!
Bless your heart, Leslie! Calls like that are scary and I know how hard that must have been for you to not be able to be there and actually see your mom. Glad you didn’t lose it though and went with the flow! Isn’t it amazing when you do that – I hope you can do it more because I know your stress level will be so much better overall!
I have been in just a few book clubs. Always on the hunt for a good book, I’d love to join an in-person club!
I’d join your book club but I have a lot of reading commitments already – if it’s ok I don’t always read the chosen book I’ll still join!
PS I hope your mom is ok.
Hi, Leslie – I am a big believer in book clubs. I currently belong to three! I believe that there are numerous pros to participating in a book club.
1. When I was working, my book club meant that I continued to read books regularly and did not fall into the ‘non book-reading stats.’
2. I can be a creature of habit so book clubs help expand my horizons and read books that I would never have picked up on my own.
3. Discussing books with others broadens my reading experience and gives me much more from a single book than I would have gotten on my own.
4. All studies on longevity say thar SOCIAL INTEGRATION is the number one factor in living a long life. For a book lover, what better way to socialize regularly?
5. Oh, and there is usually food/wine/snacks. Bonus!!
These are just a few ideas, there are many, many more!
Praying for your mom, Leslie. So very hard not to be there or be able to help otherwise. Praying for compassionate and loving caregivers. Congrats on your book club – wow, so many members! I will have to consider these…hmmm:)
Firstly I want to thank you for all you do for book club. I’m not active, but I do lurk… I’ve shared this post with someone who left a message on my blog this morning wanting to know about online book clubs. I’m also in a bookclub where we just read the classics. It’s just the 4 of us because it grew out of something else & it’s a friendship group, but it’s helped me see so many other viewpoints. Anything that helps encourage reading is a great thing in my book (pun intended).
It sounds like a great club! I just don’t have time to read anything other than my Bible. I do so much reading on my computer too.
Hello friend – are you okay? Something must have happened…especially since you did not finish out the 28 days of February? I was thinking about you – and a bit worried about you. I hope all is okay (especially with your mom) and know that you are thought about and prayed for today!!
Sounds like a great club!
I haven’t read a book from cover to cover for a very long time. I barely have enough time to read all the blogs on my blog list!
Happy Tuesday, Leslie!
Wow! I shouldn’t be at all surprised because you do everything so well but this seems like a great book club and like a TON of work on your end. I am sure everyone, all 110 of the members, very much appreciate the thought that goes into this. If I wasn’t in a book club already, I’d definitely be tempted to join. I do belong to a book club that I’ve been a part to of for 5 or 6 years with a core of the same women and a few others. We actually keep it small-ish, like 6 or 7 members and really enjoy not only reading but connecting with each other. We’ve kept it as regular as possible through COVID but now that restrictions are lifting I am hoping it’ll become much more consistent and more face to face again.
On another note, I am thinking of you and your mom as you continue this difficult journey.
Okay, first of all, I hope your mom is okay.
Second of all, does your book club meet? When and how? I am curious and could potentially be your 111th member!!!