Nora St.Laurent runs two book clubs near the Atlanta area and this year became ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Book Club Coordinator. She currently writes a Book Club Column for Christian Fiction Online Magazine. You can read her reviews and author interviews on her Finding Hope Through Fiction blog located at http://www.psalm516.blogspot.com/ Nora also runs The Book Club Network on Facebook
Lena Nelson Dooley Book Club Interview
What lead up to your starting a book club, Lena? Had you ever been part of a book club before? What’s your club’s name?
The first book club I started was when I was the manager of the church bookstore. I had never participated in a book club before but knew there was interest among the members who shopped in the store. We just called it the Book Club.
After we changed churches several years later, the new church started Fusion, groups that helped people to get to know others with similar interests. It was a rather large church. We called it the Fusion Book Club.
How did you handle conflict at your group? Do you remember a time where you had to referee a heated discussion? If so, how did you handle that?
I can honestly say we never had conflict in our book clubs.
Please describe what one can expect from your book club. What does your typical meeting look like? (I know you told me that you don’t run one now but what did the club look like at church.)
We chose a book and took a month to read the book. Then we met for a fellowship meal and to discuss the book. Actually, after sharing the meal, we were all in a good mood to discuss the books. We would discuss for about an hour, then choose the book for the next meeting. Different members brought possible books for us to choose from. The majority vote ruled.
Please describe to me how the book selection process worked for your club. Did you vote with a secret ballot, or some other method? This will be helpful to book club leaders just starting out!
We did express our favorite genres, so we tried to rotate between the likes of the various members, but we just voted out loud.
Did your book club socialize outside of your regular meetings? If so, what did you do?
Since we were members of the same church, we did see each other at various functions.
Did you ever have special book club events? If so, please explain.
We did not have special events, but now having the author call the book club and answer questions is becoming quite popular. Actually, if a book club were to choose my new book for their selection, I would be glad to call at a specific time and answer their questions. There’s more information on that on the Contact Me page on my blog: http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com.
Did you have special guidelines you had to follow? Any books you had to stay away from reading?
While associated with the church, we always chose Christian titles. With the first book club, we alternated between fiction and nonfiction, but with the Fusion Book Club, we read only fiction.
Did the club ever read a book that really touched everyone’s heart and created good discussion?
Our first fiction selection was Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. A person would have to be completely hardened if that book didn’t move them.
What is the most creative thing you all have ever done for book club? What was something that was way over the top for you?
We just did the meal and discussion. Of course, one time I was on a new medication, but the doctor didn’t warn me of a bad side effect. I was one of the people who couldn’t handle this medication. I passed out and the members had to call 9-1-1. That was over the top.
How do you get the word out about your book club? How did you get this book club started? This will be helpful for new book clubs or people wanting to take the plunge into leading book clubs.
With the first one, I put up flyers around the church and announcements in the bulletin. With the Fusion Group, the church announced it in the Kiosks and on the Website.
Have you ever had an author speak at your book club, in person or on the phone?
We didn’t, but that seems to be the going thing now.
I’m not sure if you were a published author at the time, Lena, but did you ever read one of your books and discuss it? If so, how was that experience? Were you surprised at the discussion? Learn anything new about the book you wrote?
I was a published author, but we never chose one of my books. I’d love to have a book club do that.
Thanks for stopping by, Lena, and letting us get to know the book clubs you ran. If you would like to read the complete interview and not just this excerpt, you can read it at my blog, Finding Hope Through Fiction, www.psalm516.blogspot.com. If you are a book club leader or an author who leads a book club, contact me at my blog; I’d love to interview you and highlight your group.
Until Next Time
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