Brandi Fitzpartick: Book Club Leader

I write a monthly article for the Christian Fiction On-Line Magazine that talks about book clubs. Every other month I interview a book club leader. This month I'm featuring a book club leader that is at The Book Club Network an on-line site that my husband and I run. ( )

Here is a link to the magazine article . The magazine a great place to discover new books, authors and contests. I love reading the many article that are featured each month. I know that you will too.

The name of the club is The Faith in Fiction Book Club, Brandi Fitzpatrick is their leader. Her group meets once a month at First Baptist Church in Branson, Missouri. She took advantage of the contest we were running and received a few giveaways for her club. I wanted you to hear from a member of TBCN and how it has been a resource for her club. I asked her The Book Club Network questions first and then asked questions to find out more about her group.

You’ve recently joined TBCN how has this site enhanced or helped you with your book club?

I love TBCN! I’m excited to see where it is going to take our group. We have several members that are not living locally right now and this is a wonderful way for us all to stay connected. It is a great resource for those that come regularly, but may have to miss a particular meeting. They can still see what we have been reading and make comments at TBCN for all the members to see. They can also read what other members thought of the book club selection that month.

What have you learned from other clubs at TBCN that have helped you?

I love to see what other clubs are doing and consider if it would be a good fit for our group. One of the ideas I got from TBCN was movie night. A book club read a novel that had been made into a movie and then watched the movie. Then compared how the book was different from the movie. We tried this and it was a success. I can’t wait to learn other things from the clubs there and share some of ideas our group comes up with too.

What do you like best about TBCN?

I like the ease of navigation! I also like the idea of eventually being able to connect with an author that we are discussing his/her book. I think it would be another great way to connect and add depth to the discussion. It’s given me the courage to reach out to authors because the other clubs have. If I see an author made comments at the network, I can respond and get to know them and their book better. It’s been fun to connect with authors and other book club leaders.

Any comments about TBCN and how it could be used in the future?

I trust that we will all think out of the box on this one. Just think about the possibilities of reaching people. Fiction is an amazing thing…authors have an ability to say things through fiction that you just couldn’t in everyday life. I see how the message has brought about great discussion in my group and affected lives. It’s powerful and fun. That’s the beauty of book club. It’s also a great way for other book club leaders to connect with one another and encourage each other.

What lead up to you starting a book club? Had you ever been a part of a book club before? What's your club name?

Our book club is called The Faith in Fiction Book Club. Tracy Woods decided that she would like to have a book club at our church and she did the leg work to get it started. Several of us have been members in other book clubs, but we have a fair amount of members that are new to the book club experience.

Hi, Brandi, I’m interested in being a part of your book club; could you please describe for me what I can expect? What does your typical meeting look like?

We have two different groups with two different dynamics, so I will briefly describe both. The AM group meets in our church’s coffeehouse so the meeting usually starts with everyone getting settled in with their favorite cup of brew and chatting a bit. The evening group meets in what we call The Parlour, which is like a big living room. The evening group tends to have something to eat as well as drink and then we usually kick off our shoes and curl up on one of the couches or chairs and chat a bit. Once it looks like everyone is in place I usually begin by asking a general question about likes/dislikes of the particular selection. We then go into the discussion questions. I usually ask them and then the ladies just jump in with their responses. We do have a general ending time, but we are a group of very busy women so it isn’t at all unusual for someone to pop in late or have to leave early.

Please describe to me how the book selection process works for your club? Do you vote with a secret ballet? Or some other method? Do tell. This will be helpful to book club leaders just starting out!!

We’ve tried a couple of different things, but we’ve settled on voting as a group for a selection. I usually bring about six books that I’ve pre-read to the meetings. At the meeting you can vote for as many of those books as interest you. We then select the book with the most votes to be the selection. We vote on books two months ahead. This month, October, we are voting on the December selection. If a book gets several votes, but still doesn’t win, I bring it back the next month to be considered again.

What have you read at a book club recently that really touched everyone’s heart and created good discussion?

We recently read a book called The Art of Standing Still and several of the members just weren’t very taken with it. I have to admit that I was really dreading the discussion because I just thought that it would be a flop. A beautiful lady named Marjorie Taylor came to the AM group and had an amazing perspective on the book. Several of us went away from the discussion thinking that we really needed to re-read the book and see it through her eyes. To me that is exactly what a great book club is about.

How do you get the word out about your book club? How did you get this book club started? This will be helpful for new book clubs or people wanting to take the plunge into leading book clubs.

We use several methods to let people know about the meetings. We use the church bulletin and announcements, facebook, and flyers in the bathroom stalls. One of the main things that seems to work the best is to send emails with updates. Several of our members are on TBCN, but not all, so we still send emails to their regular email accounts.


What are your three favorite books of all time?

I could never limit it to just three. I’m not a keeper of books in general so I don’t really tend to think of certain books, but more of authors and writing styles. My current favorite author is Lisa Sampson. She has written several pieces of work that still resonate with me.

Please name three things you’d rather not live without?

Well books of course! A close second for me would be Coca-Cola (from McDonald’s fountain…LOL thanks for that Denise Hildreth!) and last but not least would have to be a good moisturizer.

A friend of yours has given you an opportunity to take a trip in a time machine—What two events in the history of the world would you like to experience?

My first is a no brainer for me. I would love to have been part of the Oklahoma Land Rush. Wouldn’t that be one of the scariest things in the world, but oh what an adrenaline rush.

A couple of years ago we toured the Biltmore Estate and I think that would have been an interesting time frame, both to be a privileged family member or a member of the household staff. I have a book by Deanne Gist on my shelf called Maid to Match, I'm just dying for me to read about this time period.

You have the chance to hang out with any two people (alive or dead) in the history of the world (besides Jesus) who would you pick and what would you do?

I would love to meet Rahab. What an amazing story of grace. I’d love to hear how she dealt with the day to day mess of her past. Oh wait…I do get to meet her one day!

The second person would probably be a missionary, maybe Elizabeth Elliot or Lottie Moon. I have devoured missionary biographies since I was a little girl.

What movie most impacted you as a child? Why?

I think I’m obligated to say The Wizard of Oz. I was born and raised in Kansas so it was ingrained in me. I do have to say that I generally don’t prefer movies. If there is a book I always read it first before I watch the movie. (Then I grumble through the movie about how inaccurate it is! LOL)


Keep the faith! When there is a small turnout or no turnout, keep pressing on! Remember it takes time to get a core group established. (And just when you get it established some event will come along and change things up again!)

THANKS Brandi for answering these questions and helping us get to know you and your book club better. I appreciate youe final comments. I know this will be an encouragement to others. I'm also gglad that you are enjoying TBCN. We are only months old and it's exciting to see all the things happening there already. I'm thankful book club leaders like you are there. I do believe we can encourage each other in love and have a great time at book club.

We will be having another contest at TBCN soon that will announce a secret mission book clubs can go on. We will have book clubs finding clues to a buried treasure. More details to follow. I can’t wait to tell you about the grand prize. THANKS again.
If you are a book club and would like to be interested in being interviewed please contact me at The Book Club Network  or on this blog. I’d love to talk to you and feature your group.

With a grateful heart

Nora St.Laurent
The Book Club Network


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