Nora St. Laurent runs two book clubs near the Atlanta area and is the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Book Club Coordinator. She currently writes a Book Club Column for Christian Fiction Online Magazine. You can read author interviews on her Finding Hope Through Fiction blog, located at http://www.psalm516.blogspot.com, and reviews around the web at The Christian Pulse Mag, Title Trakk, Novel Reviews, and Suspense Zone. Nora and her husband run The Book Club Network www.bookfun.org
Mugs N Muffins Book Club
The Book Club Network (TBCN) is a great place for lots of book fun. We run contests, let you know about new book releases, and connect readers and authors. A few of the clubs hold online book discussions with authors and share it on their club pages so everyone can enjoy it.
This month I’m featuring Kimberly Zweygardt, leader of the Mugs N Muffins book club. Hear from Kim how TBCN has been a resource for her club.
You’ve recently joined TBCN. How has this site enhanced or helped you with your book club?
I wanted to do a book club, but had no idea where or how to begin. Using TBCN, I investigated the best of the best: what worked for other clubs, what didn’t work, pitfalls to watch for, different formats, book list ideas. TBCN was a godsend so that as we got started with Mugs N Muffins, we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, and it continues to be a great resource as we continue.
What have you learned from other clubs at TBCN that have helped you?
The biggest help was with book lists and formats. Having a place to ask questions on TBCN was really helpful. If I had a question, I just asked and other book group leaders were enthusiastic and helpful. I gleaned our first year’s reading list by using books that were suggested by other leaders as being good for discussion.
What do you like best about TBCN?
I like the interactions with people who love books and are enthusiastic about book groups. To people who don’t read (believe it or not, they are out there!), we can be an odd bunch.
Any comments about TBCN and how it could be used in the future?
I think just getting the word out about TBCN as a resource is important. I’ve had so many people (including some of our authors we’ve hosted at Mug N Muffin) say, “I wish my town had a group like this!” My reply was, “I did too, so I started one!” It seems overwhelming but TBCN makes it much easier.
What lead up to your starting a book club?
I’ve always loved to read. I’ll read the cereal box at the breakfast table if there is nothing else to read. I’d heard about book groups and wanted to be involved, but I work, lead worship, have a family—I’m busy like the rest of us, so I didn’t think of starting one myself. Then a local group formed, but it met while I was working. And though there were some great Christians in the group, they read secular books. I pretty much read only Christian fiction because I’ve had the experience of getting into a great story and then finding gratuitous sex or awful language, and I’d put it down.
Around this same time I had a conversation with a lady I didn’t know well concerning reading and some of the authors I know through American Christian Fiction Writers. We connected over
authors we both loved and had a wonderful faith conversation. The idea gelled of using a love of Christian fiction as a way to impact the world around me.
I’ve led Bible studies and it is wonderful to study the Word together, but I’d also invited women to Bible studies who were reluctant to come because they didn’t think they knew enough about the Bible to take part in the discussion. But everyone can read a book and offer their opinion. It’s non-threatening. And in Christian fiction, characters live out their lives making choices, just as we do. It is seeing the Bible applied, so as we discuss the characters and the plot, we discuss our own faith and belief and how we apply Scripture to live out our lives. And what if someone loves to read, but doesn’t know Christ? Could that person come to know Him through reading Christian fiction? So the idea of using our group as an outreach was also there. I didn’t realize it at the time but our book group was really a “God idea.”
Being a member of ACFW, I knew there were a lot of excellent books out there that people in my small town might never hear of. Our library has a small budget . . .
(The complete interview is on my blog Finding Hope Through Fiction.)
Thanks, Kimberly, for stopping by today. I appreciate your input about TBCN and how your book club is doing. I’m so glad TBCN is a resource to you. I hope that this will be an inspiration for other book clubs leaders to use it. For those of you who have lots of questions about how to start a book club, TBCN is the place to go to where you can find the help you need.
If you would like your group featured in this magazine, please contact me at email@example.com
Until next time.
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