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
Calvary Chapel of Melbourne Women’s Book Club
Every other month I introduce to you a book club leader, what her club has been up to, and how TBCN (The Book Club Network) has been a resource for her club.
First, I’d like you to get to know a little bit about Rachel Savage, the leader of CCM Women’s Book Club (Calvary Chapel of Melbourne Women’s Book Club).
I am the manager of The Chapel Store at Calvary Chapel Melbourne, Florida. We have two store locations (West Melbourne and Viera) in Central Florida on the Space Coast. I have always enjoyed reading. In fact, when I was in school, I was in the library so much that they knew my library card number by heart! Since I had a love for reading, I was a frequent visitor to the local Family Christian Stores. One day, the assistant manager asked me if I wanted a job. I took it and was there for almost eight years.
Once our church began to expand, my pastor would often stop in to the Family Store and tell me that when the church opened a bookstore, I would be the one to run it. Here I am ten years later loving my job and helping people find great books.
Our book club began approximately two years ago. We started reading a nonfiction title, but we have since decided that we would be exclusively fiction. We are very fortunate to be blessed with quite a few authors in our area. Rachel Hauck and Mark Mynheir both shop in our store, and Davis Bunn lives very close by (when he’s not in England). In addition to the bookstore, I also do some photography on the side. I have photographed Rachel Hauck for her Website and Susan May Warren (look for the photo I took of her on her next Tyndale published book!).
Wow, Rachel, you are involved in many exciting things outside of your book club. Thanks for sharing what you’ve done, what you do, and which authors live by you. What fun! You’ve recently joined TBCN; how has this site enhanced or helped you with your book club?
TBCN is a great resource for our group. I like to see what other groups are reading, read what they thought, and learn if they read a great book that may be a fit for us.
What do you like best about TBCN?
The contests are fun, but I like to have a place to visit with people of the same mind-set (books!).
What lead up to your starting a book club? Had you ever been a part of a book club before?
Since I didn’t start the group, I can’t answer the first question. I had never been part of a book club prior to this experience, and I didn’t know what to expect. It has now become a highlight each month!
Please describe what your typical meeting looks like.
We meet the last Monday of each month for an hour and a half. We open each meeting with a short prayer and then jump right into the book discussion. If we have the author in attendance, things may run a little differently. Our group has two great facilitators, who alternate leading the discussions (month on, month off). We tend to use the reader’s guides in the back of the books as an outline. We don’t make anyone in attendance speak if they do not feel comfortable, but we keep everyone involved. If we have a visiting author, we tend to let them lead the discussion and answer all questions. Our February meeting
had something new for us: Susan Meissner agreed to upload a video to Vimeo of her answering questions that our group had e-mailed to her (The Shape of Mercy). We will started our meeting with that, and then got into our own talks.
Please describe to me how the book selection process works for your club. Do you vote with a secret ballet? This will be helpful to book club leaders just starting out!
Since I am the one surrounded by books all the time, I usually make the selection. I read reviews in the CBA (Christian Booksellers Association) trade magazines and often get galleys from the publishers, so I know what is coming out in advance. Once I read a book that I think would make a good choice, I run it past the facilitators and see what they think. I then try to get special pricing on the book.
What have you read at a book club recently that really touched everyone’s hearts and created good discussion?
Just one?? There were a few: Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers and Riven by Jerry Jenkins have such great messages. But we had a great discussion with A Hundred Years of Happiness by Nicole Seitz! I had to give everyone a warning before they started the book: “It will seem strange and you won’t understand until the end of the story, but stick with it!” More than half of the group said that if they hadn’t gotten the warning, they probably would have put the book down. In the end, everyone liked it!
What do you enjoy most about the book club experience?
Interacting with the others in the group and hearing what they have to say. Since my husband doesn’t read, I need to have someone to “talk books” with!
Thanks, Rachel, for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your group! I look forward to see what your group will be reading this year.
If you are a book club leader and would like to be interviewed. Please contact me, I’d love to feature your group!
Until next time.
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