Nora St. Laurent
three book clubs outside of Atlanta and has established a successful
model that has made her a resource for others who would like to
establish clubs. To Nora, Book Clubs are a Ministry that revolve around
relationships and through this, the Lord would love the women that He
put in her life extravagantly. She facilitates a safe environment where
women can enter into relationships.
Book Clubs Across The Ocean
I’m excited to introduce to you a very special and amazing lady from Australia. Rel Mollet is a lawyer, wife, and mother of three young daughters and lives in Melbourne, Australia. Reading has been her passion since childhood. She is a book club co-coordinator and has her own blog—Relz Reviewz—dedicated to reviews and author interviews with the sole aim to support authors writing from a Christian worldview. She believes Sir Francis Bacon’s (1561–1626) creed: “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”
I’ve asked Rel a few questions about her book club and their experiences. This is a sneak peek into the full interview posted on my blog www.psalm516.blogspot.com.
Please describe what type of book club you run. What kinds of books do you read? What is the name of your book club?
We focus on Christian fiction novels with bite—something we can get our teeth into! I select books that deal with a particular issue (eg., abortion, missions, family life, fearful living) and are well written and engaging. I also alternate between different genres so we are exposed to and challenged beyond what members would normally choose for themselves. We have read thrillers, women’s fiction, chick lit, fantasy, suspense, and more.
Formally, I suppose we are known as the RBC Book Club (Rowville Baptist Church), but we just call it book club! We meet every six weeks on a Friday night.
Did any of your book club selections generate heated discussions? How did you handle the heat?
Yes, on a few occasions. We encourage members to share when they haven’t liked a book (it is fascinating to hear why one or two people don’t like a book that most of the others do!), and the only rule is that you share why it didn’t appeal. Some of our best discussions have been generated by someone taking issue with a book or part of it. If we all sat around agreeing that a book was nice it would become a little boring.
One heated discussion related to the way a morality issue was handled by the writer. That discussion went on for a few weeks—LOL! And it was important for everyone to discuss it and work through it.
We have a terrific bunch of members who are all very compassionate and understanding (for the most part—we’re not perfect) and allow for others to share conflicting opinions.
If you have had authors visit your club on the phone or in person, which ones were most interesting, surprising?
No one in person yet, but I’m working on it! Because we are in Australia and the overwhelming majority of CF writers are American, having guest authors is a bit hard but we have found ways around it. After reading Kissing Adrien by Siri Mitchell (great book club book!), the club members gave me a list of questions to ask the author. I e-mailed them to Siri,. I printed her answers and each member read her question and Siri’s answer. It worked really well and significantly added to our discussion. Thanks to Siri’s kindness, we often e-mail authors with questions now.
We’ve done a number of conference calls including Charles Martin, Amy Wallace, Tamara Leigh, and Karen Ball.
Amy was so much fun to talk to. We chatted about her books, faith, and even homeschooling, and asked her why so many American authors write characters that have to be beautiful or “devastatingly” handsome!
Tammy is a real sweetheart. She shared from her heart on many topics, including where her characters get their quirks and the joy of raising two sons and how one of them uses her books to talk to girls—LOL!!!!
Karen was amazing. She got up at 4 a.m. just to speak to us—we were blown away by that and her bright and bouncy demeanor at that hour of the morning! We chatted about her book What Lies Within, writing, faith, marriage, editing, changes in CF over the years and more!
Any final words or thoughts you’d like to throw out for other book club leaders?
Don’t worry about everyone liking your book selections—they won’t! As long as you communicate your goals it is up to individuals to decide if they want to participate. I clearly state every so often that I don’t choose books that are just sweetness and light. That isn’t the point of our book club. You will be amazed at what people will read and enjoy even if at first they are skeptical. I love that the women in our book club are brave enough to read (and fork out good money to buy!) a book they wouldn’t normally pick up.
Encourage members to be caring and compassionate. Book club should be a positive experience not a battle ground for people air their views combatively.
Do you have any final comments you would like to leave with my readers?
Love generously, laugh loudly, and read relentlessly!
Thanks, Nora for your time and the great questions! I hope my answers are half as interesting.
Thanks for talking to us from down under Rel! It’s always a pleasure connecting with you, friend. Remember please check out the entire interview at www.psalm516.blogspot.com.
I look forward to talking to you about more exciting book club information next month. If you would like me to feature your book club in this article, contact me at bookclubservant [at] gmail [dot] com.
Until next time,
Nora St. Laurent