When you think of a book club, Oprah Winfrey might come to mind. After all, the television hostess and creator of the OWN television network started a televised book club that launched many obscure authors onto celebrated bestseller lists like Publishers Weekly, the New York Times, and USA Today. However, book clubs go farther back than most people realize.
IN THE BEGINNING
The first book club was sponsored by a bookstore in Boston back in 1840. Margaret Fuller’s Boston Shop was the first bookstore in the United States to hold book discussion clubs. In 1926, Harry Sherman founded the Book-of-the-Month Club, a mail order company that would send a book selection to customers monthly. An editorial board of judges were behind the scenes choosing and promoting what they considered to be only the most noteworthy books in each category. A year later, Samuel W. Craig established The Literary Guild, a direct competition of the Book-of-the-Month club that offered lighter selections that were not as literary as the former’s club.
OPRAH WINFREY ISN’T THE ONLY CELEBRITY BOOK CLUB IN TOWN
That brings us back to Oprah Winfrey who, in 1996, established the first televised book club that resulted in an explosion in book clubs, making the events trendy. Oprah continues to influence readers and help make authors bestsellers as she reads and promotes titles today, but several other celebrities are also making reading popular. Emma Roberts, Emma Watson, Reese Witherspoon, and Jenna Bush Hager come to mind, some choosing specific types of books to read.
JOINING IN ON THE FUN
I’ve been wanting to be part of a book club for several years. Being an author on constant deadline made finding time to attend a book club difficult. For this reason, I decided to join in with Reese Witherspoon and read her monthly selections. June’s selection is The Cactus by Sarah Haywood, and I’m looking forward to digging in this weekend. At the same time, my interest was piqued when Jenna Bush Hager announced her June book selection, Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok. Since I am an avid reader, I decided to add Hager’s June selection to my list as well. I love reading. I love the challenge of joining in on these online book clubs. But when my writing schedule changed and I found myself with a little more time, I decided to join a book club that met physically every month. That book club is the Barnes & Noble monthly book club.
BARNES & NOBLE BOOK CLUB
Barnes & Noble Book clubs are sponsored and take place in every Barnes & Noble store across the nation. The clubs all meet on a designated Tuesday, once a month, at 7pm. In May, I attended my first book club meeting after reading their may selection, The Lost Roses. This historical novel was an intense, complex read and I loved it. I could not wait to get to the monthly book club and chat. I was feeling a mix of anticipation and nervousness as I walked through the door of my local store that Tuesday night in May. I was not disappointed.
The young woman who moderated the book club was delightful. She was personable, well read, and intelligent. She led a lively discussion with prepared notes and questions in her hands. The turnout of more than twenty people surprised and pleased me. I had finally found my tribe! People like me who love to read, read voraciously, and love to talk books. I was in heaven. It was the fasted hour and a half I’ve spent anywhere in a long time.
In May, the Barnes & Noble Book Club has been reading The Guest Book by Sarah Blake. Across the nation on Tuesday, June 11, book lovers will come together to discuss this historical family saga. I’m coming to the end of the book, and I will definitely be picking up Sarah Blake’s other release, The Postmistress. I’m a loyal reader. If I love an author’s book, you can be sure I’ll be looking for other books they’ve written.
Do you read with a book club or do you prefer to read on your own? What are you reading this month?
The June selection for Jenna Bush Hager’s Book Club
Happy Friday Reading!