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Book Club Host

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Oprah Winfrey is probably the most famous book club host of this decade, but for many years, people have met in homes, libraries or coffee shops to discuss good reads. Whether it's to spread the word on a meaty novel, or to trash a new autobiography, book club hosts bring friends together to socialize and talk about literature.

Often, when people hear about book clubs, they think about a mail-order way to buy books. The book clubs we are talking about here usually cost you little but time!

Comfy couches and chairs always lead to a good discussion, and so do kitchen tables. The place where a book club meets is totally up to the group. Public places like bookstores or libraries suit some people, while others would rather huddle in a friend's living room to compare notes.

Dan Avrin, who founded a science fiction and fantasy group, meets with his club at a bookstore. "The store gives us a place to meet, with the added bonus of a 30 percent discount on club selections!"

Over the past few years, Winfrey has made book clubs very popular. Since September 1996, hundreds of thousands of books have been purchased by Winfrey fans who want to be part of her club.

In an article in the L.A. Times, Winfrey says, "It is the most exciting thing in a television experience, the ability to get people to experience words. Not only does it bring them into bookstores, but I'm hopefully introducing them to new ways of thinking."

Another book club host, Catherine Shaw, says that she thinks that over the last five years, book clubs have taken off and now reached a peak. "Nine years ago when our group got started, we didn't hear of any others that existed."

Book clubs have actually been around since the 18th century. In the U.S., Benjamin Franklin founded a club in 1726 to discuss and debate literature.

Today, having a library card will open up this wonderful world. Purchasing books is a route that some members take. The average paperback book can be bought for about $10, and hardcover books sell for around $30. To buy or not to buy, that is the question.

When you go to a book club meeting, it is sort of assumed that there will be goodies to eat. Cookies and chips are a cheap favorite. Think of what the group likes best, and what best suits your wallet! A tip from book club veterans: eat after the discussion. That way, there aren't sticky fingerprints left on any of the books.

People of all ages and backgrounds can be found in book clubs. To see the variety of people that might be in a book club, hang out in the library or a bookstore for a couple hours.

Anyone who can read can take part. People with visual impairments will often read large print editions, read in braille, or use an instrument to assist them in reading.

Don't forget what your parents tell you. Read where there's enough light so you don't strain your eyes. That's about the only caution when thinking about participating in a book club. That and the fact that if you pick up a book that you really enjoy, you may have a hard time putting it down.

Have you ever been somewhere and really been excited about a new book you're reading? Most times, no one will be reading the same book, so it sort of takes some of the excitement away. You will never have that problem in a book club!

Getting Started

When thinking of starting a group, some book club hosts say that you should make it clear what type of books you will be reading, while others say it doesn't matter. The bottom line is having a group that will enjoy each other's company and respect each other's opinions.

Keeping the group small is a good thing to keep discussion going, and to let everyone contribute. But there is a different type of book club whose numbers aren't so small.

This type of group meets on the World Wide Web. Members post their thoughts on dedicated message boards. These groups are more difficult to get started and to maintain, but people who support them say it's worth all the bother.

The virtual book clubs often get into more intense debates about books, because personality doesn't play a role. They also claim to be more open to new members.

Finding work that relates to being a book club host is something that some people involved in this hobby may consider.

Librarian -- This is a book lover's dream job. Being around books and sharing your love of learning with others are part of the work. Organizational skills and the willingness to always learn new things are good qualities to have, too.

Author -- If you've ever written a poem or a story, you already have some idea of the thought that goes into an author's work. Getting people to pay for your work takes time, dedication and language skills. Persistence doesn't hurt either.

Book reviewer -- Reading and reviewing work for a magazine or newspaper will give you the chance to read a lot of works, and share your views with many others. Authors either love reviewers, or dislike them immensely. (Hate is such a strong word.)

Book clubs are a great place to meet people and share something that you love. Books themselves are a way to experience a new world, without getting off the couch. A pleasure shared is a pleasure doubled, the saying goes. That is why book clubs are so wonderful. Ask a book club host -- they'll tell you, and maybe invite you to their next meeting.


Book Club Girl
Fun blog with book club picks
A guide to book clubs and reading groups. Includes information on starting and running a book club, plus how to find the best discounts

Oprah's Books
Check out her favorite picks

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