So, Sheryl I’ve decided to check out your book club for this month, can you tell me what I can expect typically at your meeting? Does your book club have a name?
Thank you so much Nora for taking time to check out our book club. We are the North Metro First Baptist Church Ladies Book Club. We are presently looking into a “book club name” for our group and hope to have it selected in the next couple of months.
You ask about a typical meeting . . . I would say the one thing you can always count on at our meetings is an evening of fellowship. We begin each meeting with some time for visiting, a good cup of coffee and some yummy snacks. After allowing time for everyone to arrive, we begin our meeting with prayer and then we delve into the book. It helps tremendously to have discussion questions to lead the conversation. We close out with news of upcoming events and the announcement of the book selection for the next month.
Had you been involved with a book club before this one? How did you get started running a book club in the first place?
Actually, this is the first book club I’ve been associated with. How I became involved was truly God’s doing. While traveling with our choir on a day-trip, I was talking with a friend, Crystie Southerland, about how I thought it would be nice if our church had a book club. She then told me that she had just made that suggestion to the Ladies Ministry Team and had been told to “go for it” and find a team.
Needless to say, we shared a seat on the bus ride home and that was the beginning of our “team”. Crystie and I have been Co-coordinators for our book club from its birth over five years ago. We’ve worked together and through God’s help have watched our book club grow to a membership of over 50 women. We’re not only co-coordinators for the club, but we’ve become great friends. Funny how God brings people together, I got on the bus as a choir member and stepped off as a book club coordinator.
Have you ever had an author speak at your book club, in person or on the telephone? If so who? How did the meeting go? Any surprises?
Yes Nora, we’ve had several authors join us for our meetings. Though I must admit that when we began this endeavor, I never imagined this for our book club. It’s been truly amazing to be blessed with the opportunity to get to know the person behind the pen.
Our first guest was Randy Singer and it has been our pleasure to actually meet with him on more than one occasion; as well as Amy Wallace and Creston Mapes. We’ve also had visits from Chris Coppernoll, Rebeca Seitz, Rachel Hauck, Dale Cramer, Catherine Palmer, Cindy Woodsmall, Ginger Garrett and Julie Lessman.
We met with Diann Hunt over the phone and took a field trip to a book store to meet with Rene Gutteridge following a book signing one evening and Eric Wilson joined us for the evening too. I hope I haven’t left anyone out. It is always such a blessing to spend time with the authors and hear from them about their work and their journey.
I can’t say that there have really been any surprises. However, it has truly been amazing at the willingness of the authors to take time to meet with us. You know that old saying “rain, sleet, snow and hail, the postman will always prevail”. Guess that goes for authors too! We’ve had it all on author nights, only in George we rarely get snow, we get ice.
Since you meet at a church, are there strict guidelines you have to meet for book club selections? Are there some books that just haven’t worked for your book club? Why?
Actually Nora I would say the guidelines don’t have anything to do with the fact that we meet at a church, but rather because we are part of our church and an extension of it in our community. With that being said, it does bear heavily on the books that we read. When selecting a book, it is important that we ensure that the premise behind the book is theologically sound and goes along with our core beliefs. It is our hope that the books we read will guide those who read them to a closer walk with God and if they don’t know Him personally, that they will seek Him.
As for books that haven’t worked for our club, not that I’m aware of. I don’t think it is possible to pick a book that everyone will really like all the time. On the contrary, when someone just doesn’t really like the book (and that has happened) it adds to the discussion of the book.
Please describe to me how the book selection process works for your club? Do you vote with a secret ballot or some other method? Do tell. This will be helpful to book club leaders just starting out.
I choose the majority of the books we read, the only exceptions have been books that Crystie recommends. Choosing a book for the club is so different than recommending a book to someone to read. At least for me it is. Because the book that is selected for our club is recognized as North Metro’s book club selection, I take that very seriously. It is posted on our church web page, therefore, as I stated previously, it must support our beliefs. When reviewing a book, I check out posted reviews on the books, and I research the author’s web page to try to get some insight into them. I look at the selections not as to what book do we want to read, but rather what book does God want us to read. Once I find the book that I feel God is directing me to, that’s the book. There are times when I know we are going to read a book, but the timing isn’t right. Funny, but it always works out.
What has your book club done that was out of the ordinary that really worked? Special event, field trip, retreat?
Wow!! We’ve done quite a few different things to add our book club. The evening we spoke with Diann Hunt over the phone, we had a “Death by Chocolate” theme. So that Diann could feel even more a part of the evening, we sent her a basket of chocolate goodies to open and enjoy along with us while we spoke.
After reading The Swan House by Elizabeth Musser, we took a field trip and visited the Swan House in Atlanta and had lunch afterwards at The Coach House.
Each year at Christmas, we get together for a book swap. We conduct the swap “secret Santa” style. It is always fun to see who walks away with what book and which book gets stolen from whom.
The biggest event we had was a retreat. We spent a Friday evening and Saturday together at a conference center in the No. Georgia Mountains. Authors Amy Wallace and Cindy Woodsmall joined us for the weekend. That was a lot of fun.
I am currently planning another one-day retreat, on our church campus for this fall. The details aren’t completed, but we will be joined by Ginger Garrett for this event and I’m sure it will be a blessed weekend.
Where does your book club physically meet? Do you have food at your meetings? If so, how does that work?
We are presently meeting on our church campus. We started meeting at a local coffee house, however, as our membership grew we needed a larger room for our meetings.
You asked if we have food. You are too funny! It wouldn’t be book club without coffee and snacks. When we have an author visiting, we like to show them some of our “southern hospitality” and everyone brings something yummy to share. We never lack for something to eat.
For readers that are interested in starting a book club at their church, how did you reach out to the members that you have? Did you put announcements in the bulletins, etc? How did you reach out to the members that are from other churches? Do you do that?
We get our members in lots of different ways. When we first began, we placed an announcement in the church newsletter/bulletin, and spread the word to others by word of mouth. We started as a couple of small groups which met monthly in different places, but regrouped when we found we needed better control to keep us organized.
Today we still have a notice running in the weekly newsletter which tells of our current selection and meeting. We also have a link on our church web page and a group page on Facebook. Monthly events are published on Facebook. I create a flyer for distribution at church and for our members to use as a tool to invite others.
I think the coolest tool we have for inviting others from the community is our “business card”. These are provided to our members to share when they are out and about. You know how you strike up a conversation at the hair salon or even just standing in line at a fast food restaurant.Well, what better time to invite someone to join you; so, we give them a card with the contact info on it.
What do you like best about book club? Why do you do what you do?
I have met some wonderful people through the book club and developed some great friendships. I love sharing with the girls about a new book I’ve read or introducing them to an author whom I’ve met or been in touch with.
Why do I do this? It is truly a ministry. After serving in the Children’s ministry areas for 15 years, I was looking for a women’s ministry and this opportunity was presented to me. I don’t believe in coincidence and truly believe I’m serving where God wants me to be at this time in my life.
Have you always been a reader? Have you always read Christian Fiction? If not, what did you read before that? Who are your favorite authors?
I love to read, always have. Even as a child I was a reader. I stumbled upon Christian Fiction about seven years ago. The first book I read was a Dee Henderson book and I have been an avid fan ever since.
Before that I read books from the best seller list (Grisham, Sparks, and Clark). How refreshing it was to find that there is a multitude of books available to us through Christian writers for every genre.
As for favorite authors, there are many both in the Christian Fiction and secular fiction. I always have a book with me. When I’m not researching a new selection for the book club, you will find me reading some sort of suspense novel.
QUESTIONS I KNOW YOU WANTED TO ASK SHERYL BUT WERE AFAID TO SO I DID! :D
1)What movie most impacted you as a child? Why?
I guess that would be The Wizard of Oz. Family is very important to me and there really is no place like home to me.
2)If you had 48 hrs to hang out with anyone dead or alive in the history of the world; what 2 people would you pick and why? What would you do?
Well to answer honestly, anyone who knows me would tell you Elvis! I’m a true Elvis fan; always have been. I can’t explain why his music has always touched me, but it has and I think it would be really neat to have met him to see what made him tick. You know the person, not just the entertainer.
As for the other person, I think it would be Mary the mother of Jesus. As a mother you know all the special things about your children. We know of Christ as a young man, and his ministry. But wouldn’t it be great to hear more about his childhood.
3) What TV shows were you passionate about when you were a kid?
Gilligan’s Island ,The Brady Bunch, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie
5)If you had to pick a super hero to be who would it be and why?
Well I’m not sure she counts as a super hero, but I’d love to be able to cross my arms and blink like Jeannie. Just think of the time you could save cleaning; leaves more time for reading.
6)You find yourself in a life threatening situation and you need someone to save you, who would you pick and why?
Jack Bauer from 24. Don’t you just love that show. He always gets the job done and if he’s on your case you know you’ll be saved within 24 hours.
7)If you had all the time in the world and just as much money, to do anything you wanted, what would you do and why?
I would travel the US from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
8)If you could go back in history (yours or the world) and witness or re-live an event, what would that be and why?
I had a younger brother who passed away way too early and I think I would like to go back about 15 – 20 years ago and relive time with him.
9)What were some of your favorite books read as a kid?
I read lots of books. My favorite was a Disney story collection with tales about Pluto. I still have the Bible Story book that I read from each night and the Story collection that I read so much the spine is thread bare. It was full of fairy tales and poetry.
10)What was the last movie you saw at the theatre? Did you like it? Did you have snacks? If yes, what?
My daughter and I went to see Ghosts of Girlfriends Past starring Matthew McConaughey. Cute movie! No snacks, but definitely Diet Coke.
ANY FINAL COMMENTS YOU'D LIKE TO LEAVE MY READERS WITH?
For anyone thinking about starting a book club, I would encourage you give it a try. As you know Nora, organizing a book club is a lot of work, but for me it is a joy and a blessing. You don’t have to start big. You just need a couple of friends, a good book, and for me a good cup of coffee to get the ball rolling. Thanks again Nora for checking out our book club this month. This has really been fun.
Phil 4:8 “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
For anyone interested in learning more about Sheryl's book club you can check the North Metro Church web page or find North Metro Book Club on Facebook.
Thanks for stopping by Sheryl and letting us get to know you and your book club better.
Blessings on your book club adventures.