Our group Skype w/ my coauthor Shellie Neumeier, A Summer in
We’ve been meeting since 2006, monthly. We have a yearly goal to read biographies, best-sellers, “change your world”, medical/disease, historical, faith-based, classics, banned books; different topics like that. It’s helped me personally get out of my rut of reading almost all fiction. Most of the ladies are part of the local fire-fighters and we meet at the Fire Station, except for Christmas when we meet at someone’s house.
I also am part of the Kewaskum Bookies, which has been meeting for decades at the Kewaskum Library, though I’ve only been with them a few years. Those ladies are about half retired educators and friends, and also read very eclectically; we meet once a month through the winter months.
Lisa Lickel is a book club member and a Wisconsin writer who lives with her husband in a hundred and sixty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. Surrounded by books and dragons, she writes inspiring fiction. Her published novels include mystery and romance, all with a twist of grace. She edits, writes book reviews and interviews, and has penned dozens of feature newspaper stories, short stories, magazine articles and radio theater. She is the editor in chief of Creative Wisconsinmagazine and of OtherSheep, a Christian sci fi/fantasy magazine. Lisa also is an avid book reviewer, a freelance editor, an editor at Port Yonder Press, a writing mentor, a hostess at Clash of the Titles.com , and enjoys blogging at theBarnDoor.net and ReflectionsinHindsight.wordpress.com. She loves to encourage new authors. Find her at LisaLickel.com
Lisa I know that you are a member of The Book Club Network www.bookfun.org I wanted to ask you about that site.
How has this site enhanced or helped you with your book club?
I like to see what others are reading and how different book clubs handle discussion choices. Since the local face to face book club I belong to isn’t strictly faith-based, I challenge the group to read at least one faith-based book a year, so it’s helpful to find books that will work for our eclectic group who hail from all walks.
What have you learned from other clubs at TBCN that have helped you?
I’ve learned how to find discussion questions, how to make up challenging questions to encourage discussion, and how to keep discussion flowing without getting bogged down or letting one theory monopolize conversation. I enjoy seeing the sponsorships, too.
What do you like best about TBCN?
I like seeing how different clubs operate, how many members there are and how often they operate – some work, some don’t; seeing all the material that’s available, although that is also overwhelming if I spend too much time searching through different clubs’ lists. I also like the genre groups, even though the clubs I belong to are not thematic. The forum could be a real time-soaker, too. Who’s read the Tale of Edgar Sawtell? I could really jump into those discussions if I had not much else to do.
Any comments about TBCN and how it could be used in the future?
I think it would be helpful to have one place where clubs could post their selections, as well as their discussion guides and tidbits of answers. Another list of any authors who have visited clubs and are willing to visit either virtually or in person would be cool.
Hi, I’m interested in being apart of your book club, could you please describe for me what I can expect? What does your typical meeting look like?
Welcome! We’re glad you could be here. Our group meets once a month on a regular basis. We meet for about an hour and a half, and we volunteer for the hostess and facilitating duties, though no one has to take on these roles and often others bring snacks or have questions or material about the books to share, as well. We usually meet at the local fire station, but often have our Christmas parties at each others’ homes. We share the list of books we plan to read and discuss with each other, choosing books for about the next six months or so. The lists are available at the local library as well as our independent book seller who also offers a ten percent discount if you purchase them at the store. Our meetings are often social gatherings. We set out the refreshments and eat as we talk. The hostess often finds discussion questions somewhere and can ask for help; anyone who has a special interest can also dig up and bring along related articles or materials like interviews. We end the discussion by making sure everyone knows the next book. We usually try lighter reading material in the summers and holidays.
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!!
For this club, we pick material according to availability in paperback first. Sounds weird, but many of the members purchase the books and we often wait until new best sellers are released in paperback, although we also have a great librarian who orders copies through the shared system. A couple times a year we all bring suggestions of books we’ve heard of, or have had recommended by friends, family, book sellers, librarians, or from the Internet. We try to read a classic, a biography, fiction, memoir, history, something that has science or medical issues about it, current events, challenge your world, faith-based, local authors, holiday themes, banned books, and so forth. Often we read a book that one of our members has particularly enjoyed and wants to share. We discuss the book suggestions, choose by consensus and add them to our calendar, which is then updated periodically and passed around.
What is the most creative thing you all have done for book club? What was something that was way over the top for you and everyone loved? Special event, field trip, retreat?
We often try to match our treats to the theme of the books. We read Brave New World recently and one of our members brought jelly beans to represent the drug soma that was given out to citizens; we usually have pretty creative refreshments.
The very first book we read was Erik Larsen’s Devil in the White City. Since we have a museum less than an hour from us with a whole floor of memorabilia from the Chicago World’s Fair where the book takes place, a few of us went to visit.
Have you ever had an author speak at your book club, in person, or on the phone? If so, who? How did the meeting go? Any surprises you learned about the author and/or the book you didn’t know about before the chat?
We’ve tried author visits a few times. I had met and interviewed Jacquelyn Mitchard several years ago, and had set up a phone interview after we’d read one of her books. That one backfired, unfortunately, but she graciously sent us all copies of her next book. We’ve had local author Rochelle Pennington who specializes in a particular Great Lakes shipwreck come and share her research. She was fantastic, and I hadn’t known that she had built up such a great speaking platform as part of her business. The group has also read my books and last Christmas we had New York Times best-selling author Liz Tolsma come and share about her work and the very interesting book she’s currently working on. I have a feeling when that one comes out it will be on our list.
What books have you read recently that sparked a lot of passion and discussion in your group? Why?
We read Nothing to Envy last October. It’s nonfiction by a woman who escaped from North Korea, and since all the later events, the lifestyle the author shared has taken on a much more personal and absolutely frightening, shocking realization that type of insanity exists now in a technologically-advanced (so to speak) society. We also read Carmen bin Ladin’s (not a typo)Inside the Kingdom which described life in Iran, right as her brother-in-law Osama bin Laden was captured. We read Andy Adam’s Final Summit about what makes our civilization worth salvaging, which we talked about for quite a while. We all come from different faiths and politics so we try to be civil. Other books we’ve read include those that made us wonder the motives of the author; books that challenge our upbringing and outlook on things like racial issues and sense of charity and family. Being part of different book clubs has made me read material I would never have picked up to read on my own, and that’s been enlightening. I now even look forward to reading some nonfiction which I used to dread.
QUESTIONS I JUST HAD TO ASK
What are your three favorite books of all time?
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey
Whatever makes me cry that I’m currently reading
Please name three things you’d rather not live without (besides your family and bible
Sharp pencils with erasers
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?
The first use of meaningful written language.
If I may take liberty with “history” as significant events, and not just relating to “ago”: The ribbon-cutting ceremony for the first moon base colony. I am an historian (my bachelor of science), and a novelist, after all—dangerously juxtaposed behavioral sciences.
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?
Ah, after reading The Final Summit I’m still perplexed about that, but today’s answer is:
Hammurabi – for his wisdom about developing a modern code that’s still the basis of legality today. I’d love to sit at his feet and soak up his thought process.
Golda Meir – for the chance to watch her be the dream. I’d love to hang out with her during the utterly thrilling days of putting a nation, culture, and prophecy back together, with all the danger, secrets, shouting and praying. It’s such a symbol of infinity that the first missionary the risen Jesus called was a woman and the first representative of a reunited Israel was a woman.
What movie most impacted you as a child? Why?
Three movies come to mind for various reasons, but one that impacted me…the most…I honestly have to say that parts of each of the films I’m thinking of have had a significant impact.
Born Free made me understand cruelty (not just to animals) which helped me appreciate the realities of evil manifested in the modern world
The Unsinkable Molly Brown showed me that everybody and anybody can rise above humility and help when most needed
The Wizard of Oz, besides scaring the pants off me, helped me balance needs and wants, something that appears in my work as an author in various characters and situations.
ANY FINAL COMMENTS THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO TELL FUTURE BOOK CLUB LEADERS!! SOME ENCOURAGEMENT, THINGS TO AVOID!! WORDS OF WISDOM? Any input?
Don’t be afraid to think outside the lines and encourage reading material that challenges your group in unusual ways. I probably wouldn’t have read Cormack McCarthy’s The Road until the movie version came out, but I think a lot about what happened in the novel even though it was gross, and chose not to see the movie after all. It made me think about what constitutes humanity. And on those same lines, we haven’t done this yet but we talk about it a lot, read a book and watch a film version and compare them. Do schedule authors whenever you can. It makes your club 3D, and it’s a lot of fun for us authors. Never get into politics, even if you all cross your hearts you voted the same way at the last election. And be sensitive to readers who simply can’t pick up something like the above-mentioned The Road. My group chose to read an autobiography by an African woman who’d been tortured and I just couldn’t bring myself to read it; I just couldn’t because I knew I’d have nightmares forever. But also be encouraging to members to at least try something new – just like trying different foods. And my fav advice is that no one has to like everything; the point is to expand your horizons.
Nora: THANKS AGAIN for dropping by Lisa.
Lisa Delighted! It’s an honor.
Nora : I appreciate you sharing your book club experiences with us, Lisa. Thanks for your advise too. It's very helpful! Thanks also for your insight into The Book Club Network www.bookfun.org
If you are a book club member and you'd like your club to be featured please contact me at email@example.com I'm always looking for new book clubs to interview!
The Book Club Network CEO