Archive for the ‘Book Groups’ Category


Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

NPR inaugurated a social networking book club experiment in January with Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken.

For March, they turn to a book that has been a long-lasting trade paperback best seller (currently at #2 after 57 weeks), Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.

Adding a new twist, NPR invites books clubs to apply for the opportunity to receive a personal call or videochat from the author.

Cutting for Stone
Abraham Verghese
Retail Price: $15.95
Paperback: 688 pages
Publisher: Vintage – (2010-01-26)
ISBN / EAN: 0375714367 / 9780375714368

OverDrive, Adobe EPUB eBook; Mobipocket eBook; WMA Audiobook
Audio; Books on Tape

Most Popular Book Club Picks

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011 is compiling a list of the 2010 Most Discussed Books of the Year.

Book club members are asked to share the books that their groups read each month in 2010. Groups who submit their lists are automatically entered in a contest to win 12 copies of one of the 33 featured titles, which include both recently published titles and upcoming 2011 books.

To view the complete list of featured titles click here. The 2010 Most Discussed Books of the Year feature and contest will be open through February 21, 2011.

Full details and contest rules are available here.


Thursday, December 30th, 2010

Director Baz Luhrmann has been studying up for his adaptation of The Great Gatsby and is inviting the public to be part of the process. Earlier this month, he told Entertainment Weekly,

Having spent at least two years full-time on [Gatsby], I probably have read [most every] book. But maybe not… I think engagement with an audience is great. I am fascinated about genuine audience participation because I grew up in the theater…I think to myself, well look, this [list] is what we’ve read. Go read that, and help me. If you want to have a point of view, get informed, then be helpful. Let’s try and make the best interpretation [for today].

Luhrmann’s research material is listed on the director’s Web site, with discussion on his Facebook page.

It was confirmed recently that Carey Mulligan will play Daisy, joining Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby. Release is planned for some time in 2012; plenty of time to organize “Reading with Baz” book groups.

The SLAP Heard Round Europe

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

The Slap has “has sparked heated discussions across the world” according to The Telegraph. Now the author of “the most divisive book” on the long list for the Booker Prize, Christos Tsiolkas is making enemies by calling European writers dry and academic, preferring John Updike’s Couples because it has “a fearlessness that I am hungry for.”

About the aftermath of a guest slapping an obnoxious child, not his own, at a barbecue The Slap is currently the most popular Booker nominee in the UK, selling 3.5 times more copies than the second most popular title, The Room by Emma Donoghue.

It is not nearly as popular here, where it’s at #4,352 on Amazon’s list, as opposed to #16  in the UK. In libraries, holds are light.

So, here’s a thought; it may be an ideal choice for book clubs. It’s available here in paperback, people love it or hate it, making for heated discussions, and there’s the added interest of seeing whether it continues on the Booker short list (to be announced 9/7) and whether it wins the Booker in October (10/12).

It’s received strong reviews in both the UK and the US:

London Review of Books

Jane Smiley reviewed it in The Guardian in May

L.A. Times

Washington Post

Tsiolkas, who lives in Australia, has been interviewed here by WAMU’s Diane Rehm and  The Bookslut.

The Slap: A Novel
Christos Tsiolkas
Retail Price: $15.00
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) – (2010-04-27)
ISBN / EAN: 0143117149 / 9780143117148

Tomorrow’s Book Club Picks

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Which titles will be book club favorites when they come out in trade paperback next year? Kaite Stover asked this question in her Booklist Book Group Buzz column recently, placing her bets on two current hardcovers, Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, by Helen Simondson (Random House, March, 2010) Bloodroot by Amy Greene (Knopf, Jan, 2010) and one that isn’t coming out until January, Pictures of You by Caroline Leavitt (Algonquin).

We love the idea of making these predictions, and wanted to join in. Our pick is Wench by Dolen Perkins-Valdez. Back in January, USA Today made this attention-getting comparison,

Readers entranced by Kathryn Stockett’s The Help…will be equally riveted by Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s Wench, a brutally told fictional account of slave women forced to be the “mistresses” of their white masters in the years leading up to the Civil War.

Like The Help, Wench immerses readers in its characters’ complex emotional lives.

For some reason, it didn’t follow The Help to bestsellerdom, but we’re predicting it will when it comes out in trade paperback this January. There’s several good indicators, including heavy holds in libraries. Book clubs are already reading it and Dolen-Perkins is available for phone-ins with groups via Skype (for more, check here). There’s even a reading group guide on O, the Oprah magazine site.

Wench: A Novel
Dolen Perkins-Valdez
Retail Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Amistad – (2010-01-01)
ISBN / EAN: 006170654X / 9780061706547

Unabridged Audio: Books on Tape
Audio and eBook downloadable from OverDrive
Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s tour schedule is peppered with library events, including several opportunites to see her at the upcoming ALA:

Sunday, June 27th, WCC, 142
ALTAFF Program: Authors Come in All Colors

8:00 – 10:00
BCALA Membership Meeting

Monday, June 28
Booth signing — HarperCollins booth, #2513

Dolen Perkins-Valdez at the LIVE Stage

Katherine Howe Phone-In

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

The author of library favorite, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, will be available for book group  discussions by phone. Click here to request a date and time.

The book has heavy holds in many libraries.

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane
Katherine Howe
Price: $25.99
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Voice – (2009-06-09)
ISBN-10: 1401340903
ISBN-13: 9781401340902

An unabridged audio version is available from HarperAudio:

  • Audio CD: $39.99 (June 9, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1401393055
  • ISBN-13: 978-1401393052


Monday, June 29th, 2009

Newsweek‘s book coverage had become a bit sporadic (also true, sadly, for most of the weeklies, with the notable exceptions of People, Entertainment Weekly and The New Yorker).

The current issue (July 13; Michael Jackson on the cover, of course) makes up for that with a feature on the 50 books that are not “best books,”  but books that “open a window on the times we live in.” Who needs “another list telling you how great The Great Gatsby” is, they say (nonetheless, online, perhaps as a form of self-protection, they also provide a best list — Newsweek‘s Top 100 Books).

It’s interesting to see the mix of older and contemporary books on the list; number one is Trollope’s 1875 masterpiece, The Way we Live Now. Newsweek says,

Trollope’s satire of financial (and moral) crisis in Victorian England even has a Madoff-before-Madoff, a tragic swindler named Augustus Melmotte.

Harry Potter doesn’t make the cut, but Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series does.

This list is more fun than the over-familiar “bests” lists. It would make a great book display or a reading group discussion (“What books would you choose?”)

Take Your Book Group to Guernsey

Saturday, June 20th, 2009

To celebrate the trade paperback publication of book group favorite, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, Random House is running a “Take Your Book Group to Guernsey” contest. One winner and five friends will travel to Guernsey Oct 2nd through Oct 5th. Deadline is July 31st.

Click here to enter.

Unfortunately, this offer is void in Florida, New York, Rhode Island, and where prohibited.

Book Club Brainstorming

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

Speaking of reading groups (see Reading Group Survey Results), BEA featured a “Book Club Brainstorming” panel, moderated by Carol Fitzgerald of

Today’s Shelf Awareness pulls together tips from the booksellers on the panel, which can, of course, translate to libraries.

A podcast of the panel is also available on the Book Expo site, (or by clicking above), along with podcasts and videos of many of the other BEA-sponsored programs. In addition, Publishers Lunch has posted their own videos from BEA.

Do you remember the days when we bought dozens of cassettes of programs and lugged them home in our suitcases?

Reading Group Survey Results

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

RG Survey

One of our favorite sites,, has just released the results of an extensive survey of reading groups from around the country. Nearly 8,000 people filled out a 62-question survey. Thanks to all you EarlyWorders who heeded our call to be part of the study!

Reading group organizers will smile with recognition at some of the responses. What’s the biggest complaint about reading groups? “Not staying on track” (36.7%). What else? “One person dominates the conversation” (12.2%).

One of the changes that groups say they have instituted recently is “limiting selections to books found in the library.” (12.7%)

In fact, as you read through the study, it is clear that libraries are an extremely important part of the reading group community. Libraries are the top of the list of places where group members go to get their books. Library “bags of books” are mentioned often as well as librarians as good sources for book recommendations and 14% of the groups meet in libraries (53.6% meet in member’s homes and 11.5% in cafes or restaurants).

As to the use of  technology, 14.5% use a website for organizing the group and another 16.7% would like to set one up. Over half use Facebook.

What would they like to see in the future? By a huge margin, they would like a place online to find out what other groups are reading.

Link here to read the full report.  Share it with your reading group members (especially that person who dominates conversation!)

Just Two More Weeks!

Friday, April 17th, 2009


A reminder to fill out the  Book Group Questionnaire at

For more information on the survey, click here.

Don’t Forget…

Monday, April 6th, 2009

…the Reading Group survey that’s going on at Reading Group

Book Group Questionnaire

It closes April 30th. For more information about it, go to Reading Groups — Be Counted!

Reading Groups — Be Counted!

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009


We all know how frustrating it is to try to find stats on reading groups. Help is on the way; a major national survey is in progress at Carol Fitzgerald, the founder of RGG as well as the many other sites that make up the Book Reporter Network, extends a personal invitation to EarlyWorders to participate:

What are book clubs reading? How often do they meet? Do they enjoy speaking with authors? We’re going to find out the answers to these questions and more with the 2009 survey — and we’d like your help reaching out to book club members.

The goal is to identify trends and topics that are of interest to book groups. The information will be shared with all of you as well as publishers, booksellers, and authors so they can provide the resources needed to enhance book group meetings and discussions. The survey is only open to readers who are in book clubs. 
The survey can be found at Book Group Questionnaire

We estimate that the survey will take about 12-15 minutes to complete. As a token of their appreciation for filling it out, each of the first 2,500 respondents will receive one of 28 titles, which are being graciously provided by our publisher colleagues. All other entrants will be entered into a random drawing to win one of 200 books. See the full list of 28 titles, each of which is perfect for a book group discussion, at: RGG Book Group Survey
We hope that you will not only take the survey yourself, but also encourage the reading groups you work with to take it and mention it on blogs, newsletters and listservs — whatever you can think of to help make this as comprehensive a study as possible.

The survey will close on April 30th, so visit Book Group Questionnaire to answer the survey now!

Thanks for your help. We will share the results on EarlyWord.



We’d love to see libraries well-represented, so please participate.

If you have any questions or ideas about the survey, email me, Nora.

Rely on ‘A Reliable Wife’

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

In these uncertain times, there is one thing I can say with confidence. However many copies you’ve ordered of A Reliable Wife, by Robert Goolrick, it’s not enough.

I read the book in manuscript several months ago and it has stayed vividly in my mind ever since. In the past week, it suddenly seems that I see mentions of  it everywhere I turn. The LA Times featured it in their blog, “Jacket Copy” on Friday, Dave Welch of Powell’s bookstore in Oregon makes an interesting prediction,

Come a day, you might get sick of hearing about A Reliable Wife  — so many people will have read it and raved to you about it. Here’s some preventative medicine: read it first. 

And, on Friday, the ABA’s Indie Next picks for April came out. The number one pick? A Reliable Wife.

On Monday, Reading Group featured a team review of the book, along with reading group questions by three librarians from the Salem OR Library (a brilliant idea; Reading Group Guides will feature this librarian trio every couple of months, with their picks of forthcoming titles that are great for reading groups). They describe the book’s appeal perfectly,

[A Reliable Wife] engages from the first lines, which describe wealthy small-town magnate Ralph Truitt as he stands waiting, surrounded by the whispers of his neighbors, for a woman to arrive by train. The woman, Catherine, is someone he has ordered up by placing an ad, seeking a “reliable wife.” He implies that he simply wants a steady companion after years of loneliness. She accepts, implying that she’s a plain woman ready to accept the job. Since they’re both lying elaborately, it’s quickly clear their relationship will be a good deal more complicated than initially advertised.

Also, on Monday, the Hollywood Reporter announced that Columbia has bought the film rights.

A Reliable Wife is set  in Wisconsin in 1907. As I read it, I kept thinking of a book from the 1970’s that I’d adored; The Wisconsin Death Trip. It’s a book a librarian can’t help but love. Through newspaper articles and images from the archives of one small town in 19th C Wisconsin, it creates a fascinating narrative. I still have my copy.

Guess what? I later learned that Goolrick was influenced by that very book.

I’m looking forward to reading Goolrick’s earlier book, the 2007 memoir, The End of the World as We Know It. I have a feeling many other Reliable Wife readers will want to go back to the earlier title as well. It was released in trade paper last year.

Many of you may have picked up A Reliable Wife at the Algonquin/Workman booth at MidWinter, or had it forced into your hands by Worman’s Mike Rockliff. If you haven’t read it yet, take heed of the LA Times warning and do so now. 

On Twitter, people are now saying that Algonquin is out of galleys, but I have a secret; I happen to have a very limited number of copies. If you want one, send an email to EarlyWord, with “A Reliable Wife Galley” in the subject line, by 11:59 p.m, Friday, March 13th (we’re running this for only a few days because I have so few copies). We will randomly select winners. Don’t forget to include your mailing address, so they know where to send it!

This giveaway is only available to librarians residing within the 50 United States.


A Reliable Wife

Robert Goolrick

  • Hardcover: $24.95; 304 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (March 31, 2009)
  • ISBN-10: 1565125967
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565125964



The End of the World as We Know It: Scenes from a Life

Robert Goolrick

  • Paperback: $13.95; 227 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (April 15, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 1565126025
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565126022

The Secret is Out!

Monday, December 8th, 2008

Today, The New York Times discovers that book clubs can be dysfunctional (Fought Over Any Good Books Lately?)