Book clubs. They come in so many shapes and sizes, and I've tried on a few of them. There was my initial experiment back in 2010 called "I Bet We Can Make These Books Bestsellers", which was my effort to bring attention to some fabulous books that had flown under the radar. It has succeeded after a fashion - there are more than 4,000 members and I've featured a lot of great books but ... I'm not Oprah, okay. I'm not. Sigh.
Last year I started a project called "52 Books in 52 Weeks" (Oh I am original with the naming!) which was me setting out to read 52 bestsellers in a year and blog about it. I did it. There are over 1,000 people in the Goodreads group, some of whom read along with me, others who picked and chose the books they read. It was kind of an awesome experience in every sense of the word. And I've kept it up this year to the extent that I pick a book a week for the group and we discuss it, but I've dropped the reviewing part because I've got a book to write and doing both at once was well ... let's just say I didn't write much fiction last year.
What was behind both of those initiatives was an attempt by me to get behind why people read certain books and what made them go viral. How did word of mouth work, really? I can't say that I have any foolproof answers, though I certainly have a long list of what doesn't work. But I also discovered that it is just fun to introduce people to books and discuss them with them. So, I've done it again. (Britney Spears reference intentional, subconscious?)
I've started a group on Facebook called One Book One Facebook and we have just started our first group read for October, the fabulous The Banks of Certain Rivers by Jon Harrison. (And don't just take my word for it that it's great, Kirkus called the book "Moving...rife with tension...Harrison's characters are compelling, and his prose is lucid...Neil's vividly detailed life is sure to appeal to fans of emotionally involving fiction...recognizing both the difficulty and importance of letting go and moving on. Confident, clearsighted and poignant.") . I picked this book because I love it, but also because it's accessible from a price perspective -- it's just come out in paperback and is only $3.99 in e-book format. A lesson learned from my 52 books in 52 weeks days; price point accessibility is certainly an issue for many people.
I've also tried to do something a bit different with the reading format; one book a week is too much for many people, so we're taking it slow, a couple chapters to begin with then 5 a week. The discussions that have already begun for those who just couldn't put it down are great. And we've got some great future reads lined up: Life Drawing by Robin Black and The Good Girl by Mary Kubica.