Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Nancy Girls Book Club

On May 4th, I attended a fabulous book club in Centerville, Ohio. I’ve attended nearly fifty book clubs just for The Kindness of Strangers alone since its release in 2006, but I’ve never kept track of them all on my website. I sincerely wish I had! I’ve met with just incredible groups of people, such as the Novel Women, the Book Ends, the You Don’t Have to Read the Book Club, and the winner for my all time favorite book club name: The Beautiful Women Drinking Martinis Book Club! The keeping track and blogging about each group on my site will be a new thing for 2009, and I hope none of the book clubs of my past feel slighted.

I’m a huge fan of book clubs. I belong to one myself (we humbly call ourselves the Goddesses) and I really think book clubs help keep new fiction thriving in our society. I know for a fact that book clubs are responsible for keeping my books alive, so I’m eternally grateful. Thank you, thank you, thank you to every book club who had ever chosen one of my novels, whether I attended your discussion or not! There’s just something so appealing about social gatherings revolving around books. Does my heart good!

I genuinely enjoy hearing clubs discuss my novels. It’s an entirely different dynamic than a book store reading. At a reading, you’re sort of convincing people to read the book, but at a club, everyone (well...almost everyone...there are always exceptions! I’ve been the exception a couple times among the Goddesses) shows up already having finished the book. So much of writing happens in such solitude that it’s a real gift to hear readers argue over plot events, describe how certain scenes and characters affected them, and what passages made them laugh, cry, or throw the book across the room! A fascinating (to me) argument often develops from discussing Courtney’s...um, “resolution” (don’t want to be a spoiler) in The Kindness of Strangers, for example.

Every book club has a different personality, feel, and mode of operation. Book clubs are often asking me about other clubs, so I’ve decided to start recording them here, so they can read about each other!

It was with great pleasure that I ventured to Centerville to meet with the Nancy Girls (named because a Nancy happened to be the common person introducing these women in their early days of the club). The Nancy Girls were informal, interesting, and FUN. They socialize with each other in addition to book club. As far as books go, their selection process is pleasantly casual. Once they all even went to Barnes & Noble together, branched out, then came back to a common area to discuss their discoveries. I love that!

Another thing I love is that the Nancy Girls EAT. Books and food are two of my favorite things so their combination always makes me happy. Making me doubly happy was the fact that desserts were so well represented. A big fat brownie with whipped cream on top? Heaven. Ah, women after my own heart!

They were women after my own heart in other ways as well. By sheer coincidence, every woman in this club has experienced divorce (it is NOT a prerequisite for membership!). They were wise and strong and resilient as we talked about divorce phenomenons such as the “blindside” and the “blindside that turns out to have been self-imposed blinders.” I’m eager for this group to read my fourth novel (you know how my books always center around a social issue? This one is marriage, divorce, and same-sex marriage).

Whoever picked the book for the Nancy Girls is that meeting’s “leader.” Each leader can do whatever she wants, but our leader Bobbie had each person fill out a card listing one question they had, or one passage they wanted to comment on. This group had read TWO of my books (see why I love them so???)—both The Kindness of Strangers and Two Truths and a Lie—so the questions alternated. The questions were interesting and fun, and the group was totally open to tangents and followup questions. The time flew by.

One member, Nicki commented: "What I’ve found most interesting about the book club is that the books I think will trigger the most discussion, don’t. Other times, I’ll read a book and not find one thing I think we will discuss, yet at the meeting, that book will trigger a great discussion.”

If their insightful comments were gift enough, the Nancy Girls presented me with a wonderful Target gift card, and a sassy little gift bag full of cute notebooks, pencils, and a fridge magnet (I LOVE fridge magnets). This was such a lovely, thoughtful thing for them to do. They’d been following my blog and they knew I was soon to be buying a house, so they knew the Target card would be useful. I’m happy to report to them that the card bought me potting soil, gardening gloves, a shovel, and several pots—I can start gardening BEFORE I have possession of my house!

Book clubs often ask me what other clubs are reading, so I’ll report that past Nancy Girl picks included: The Sparrow, Three Cups of Tea, The Faith Club, The Last Templar, Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons, The Secret Lives of Bees, Eat Pray Love, and many books by Mary Kay Andrews (who I was tickled pink to report is a fellow Goddess Book Club member).

Many, many thanks, Nancy Girls! Happy reading!


  1. Color me jealous! I run a book club as well--BookLinks, a club through SouthBrook Church. Mary Knapp (whom you know) is also a member.

    I love the give and take of book clubs. Different opinions, insights and outlooks. It helps to view the book from seven different angles rather than just my own.

    We might just have to pick one of your books for next year's BookLinks. We meet at Panera's near the Dayton mall so it will be a short commute for you!


  2. Nicole, I would HAPPILY attend your book club should you ever choose to discuss one of my novels!