Week 3 Non-Fiction November | Become The Expert #becometheexpert #nonficnov #orangecountyreads

Week 3 is hosted by Doing Dewey. All month long, join our wonderful hosts with weekly prompts for discussing all the Non-Fiction Reads from 2019. Get all the details here. Want to be extra? Join in the Instagram photo challenge! So let’s get started!

Be The Expert/Ask the Expert/Become the Expert

Three ways to join in this week! You can either share 3 or more books on a single topic that you have read and can recommend (Be the Expert), you can put the call out for good nonfiction on a specific topic that you have been dying to read (Ask the Expert), or you can create your own list of books on a topic that you’d like to read (Become the Expert).

Last year I posted as Be The Expert on the topic of Dr. Theodore Geisel (aka Dr. Seuss).

This year, I decided to Become an Expert on the topic of Book Clubs and the Power of Reading. The idea began as I considered a book I read earlier this year that was so beautiful and moving it may well be my top Nonfiction title of the year.

As I become more involved in the book community I see that there are many, many book clubs out there (both real life and online), some that have been meeting regularly for 20 years! If you go on Meetup.com there are hundreds of book club groups. I find this very encouraging.

As I put this list together, I found many wonderful books and have added several to my TBR. #sorrynotsorry

I’ll begin with the book I loved.

The End of Your Life Bookclub by Will Schwalbe (2012)

The inspiring story of a son and his dying mother, who form a “book club” that brings them together as her life comes to a close.

Mary Anne Schwalbe is waiting for her chemotherapy treatments when Will casually asks her what she’s reading. The conversation they have grows into tradition: soon they are reading the same books so they can have something to talk about in the hospital waiting room. The ones they choose range from classic to popular, from fantastic to spiritual, and we hear their passion for reading and their love for each other in their intimate and searching discussions.

A profoundly moving testament to the power of love between a child and parent, and the power of reading in our lives.

The Book Club Cookbook by Judy Gelman (2004)

Featuring recipes and discussion ideas for one hundred popular book club selections, The Book Club Cookbook will guide you in selecting and preparing culinary masterpieces that blend perfectly with the literary masterpieces your club is reading.

Tandoori Shrimp with Life of Pi, Mint Juleps with The Great Gatsby, Sweet Potato Pie with Sugar, Death by Chocolate with The Da Vinci Code, Ambrosia with To Kill a Mockingbird, Britta’s Crab Casserole with The Hours

Also see: The Kids’ Book Club Book: Reading Ideas, Recipes, Activities, and Smart Tips for Organizing Terrific Kids’ Book Clubs by Judy Gelman

The Maximum Security Book Club: Reading Literature in a Men’s Prison by Mikita Brottman (2016)

On sabbatical from teaching literature to undergraduates, and wanting to educate a different kind of student, Mikita Brottman starts a book club with a group of convicts from the Jessup Correctional Institution in Maryland. She assigns them ten dark, challenging classics—including Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Poe’s “The Black Cat,” and Nabokov’s Lolita—books that don’t flinch from evoking the isolation of the human struggle, the pain of conflict, and the cost of transgression. Although Brottman is already familiar with these works, the convicts open them up in completely new ways. Their discussions may “only” be about literature, but for the prisoners, everything is at stake.

Gradually, the inmates open up about their lives and families, their disastrous choices, their guilt, and their loss. Brottman also discovers that life in prison, while monotonous, is never without incident. The book club members struggle with their assigned reading through solitary confinement; on lockdown; in between factory shifts; in the hospital; and in the middle of the chaos of blasting televisions, incessant chatter, and the constant banging of metal doors.

Though The Maximum Security Book Club never loses sight of the moral issues raised in the selected reading, it refuses to back away from the unexpected insights offered by the company of these complex, difficult men. A compelling, thoughtful analysis of literature—and prison life—like nothing you’ve ever read before.

The Book Club Bible: The Definitive Guide That Every Book Club Member Needs by Michael O’Mara, Lionel Shriver (2008)

Every book club member has felt the pressure to pick out a new title for the whole group to read and enjoy. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a book that helped you to make that all-important decision and maintain your place of respect in the book club? Fear no more, this comprehensive guide is here to help, shining an illuminating light on the treasures of the literary world, from The Bell Jar to Brick Lane, Mrs. Dalloway to Middlesex. Containing a diverse selection of books to choose from, the guide includes a non-spoiler synopsis, background information on the author, historical context, interesting discussion points and facts, and potential companion volumes. Compiled by a range of English literature experts and avid readers, this informative and enthusiastic guide is guaranteed to inspire.

Off the Beaten Page: The Best Trips for Lit Lovers, Book Clubs, and Girls on Getaways by Terri Peterson Smith (2013)

Off the Beaten Page encourages avid readers, particularly those in book clubs and other groups, to leave the security of their living rooms and seek to experience in person the places they’ve read about. Inspired by years of excursions with her own book club, award-winning journalist Terri Peterson Smith offers lively, expert guidance through fifteen US destinations ideal for anyone eager to mix their love of travel and quality time with friends or family with their desire for meaningful cultural experiences

The Readers’ Choice: 200 Book Club Favorites by Victoria Golden (2000)

Here are two hundred reader-tested answers to the question “What have you read that’s good?” The Readers’ Choice is the first book to feature titles based on the recommendations of numerous book clubs. Victoria McMains has collected two hundred favorites of more than seventy reading groups nationwide, ideal for book group members looking for a “good read,” busy people seeking enjoyable books outside the bestseller lists, or anyone who wants to read more but isn’t sure where to start.

Combining her skills as a book reviewer and a veteran book group member, McMains provides brief, captivating profiles of a diverse mix of fiction and nonfiction. There are love stories and war stories, fantasy and political intrigue, biography and nature-and much more. Each profile highlights the unique traits of the book and ends with a few questions for group favorites as well as little-known gems that have been discovered and treasured. Indexes organize the entries by title and subject matter, helping readers find books that appeal to their interest. For anyone wanting to learn the easy essentials of starting a book club, check out McMains’s introduction.

Bookworms Anonymous: A Non-Traditional Book Club for All Readers by Jan Stafford Kellis (2014)

Part memoir, part cookbook, and part informational guide, Bookworms Anonymous by Jan Stafford Kellis describes the author’s experiences with her unique book club in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Kellis reveals a nontraditional club in 8 sample meetings, where readers buy only the books they want and take the time they need to read them. Their “read, eat, meet, repeat” structure bonds the members, creating a community extending well beyond the literary world. Kellis offers Book Handling Commandments (do not dog-ear pages) and lively instructions on how to establish your own book club. Filled with personal anecdotes, book reviews, menus, and over twenty recipes, Bookworms Anonymous is designed for anyone who loves to read and wants to enhance the experience.

Breathing New Life Into Book Clubs: A Practical Guide for Teachers by Sonja Cherry-Paul, Dana Johansen (2019)

Sonja and Dana have both a confession and a challenge to teachers. Managing classroom book clubs can be hard. Real hard. But honestly, is there any better way to get students vested in reading? When book clubs work, don’t they create a culture of reading unlike anything else? One that brings out the very best in our students?

With both infectious enthusiasm and a realistic perspective, Sonja and Dana take on teachers’ doubts and concerns about book clubs and build a compelling case for their value in every classroom. They provide all the nuts and bolts for creating and managing successful book clubs, including:

Dozens of “pitfalls and pathways” minilessons that address common roadblocks Tips for using technology to enhance book club work for deeper student engagement Suggested “book bins” for book club work, organized by grade level and genre. Whether you’re looking to breathe new life into book clubs or begin implementing them in your classroom, Sonja and Dana give you essential strategies to make book clubs work. “Because book clubs,” they write, “are where students fall in love with reading.”

The Book Club Companion: A Comprehensive Guide to the Reading Group Experience by Diana Loevy (2006)

Booksellers know very well how ubiquitous the reading group has become, and The Book Club Companion is full of innovative ideas designed to entertain their members and enrich the book club experience. Inside, club members will find:

The 10 Indispensable Titles across several literary genres including Beloved Lit, Brit Lit, Book Club Favorites, Classic Lit, Black Lit, Noir Lit, Literary Respite, Nonfiction that Reads Like Fiction, and Memoir.  It also includes Childhood favorites, “Guilty pleasure” titles, Conversation starters and tips for keeping discussions lively, Theme gatherings and special places for meetings, Drink and food recipes, Craft ideas and much more.

What to Eat with What You Read: A Guide for Book Clubs and Other Literary Gatherings
by Samantha Schoech (Editor) and Vanessa Hua, Sofija Stefanovic, Robin Sloan, R.O. Kwon, Ottessa Moshfegh, Lisa Halliday, Leni Zumas (2019)

GOOD BOOKS AND GOOD FOOD ARE PERFECT COMPANIONS. Now book clubs (and solo readers) can pair them perfectly. What to Eat with What You Read includes meal suggestions, book lists, and real recipes. Roxane Gay wants you to cook and eat the perfect steak, Jennifer Egan shares her grandma’s recipe for cherry cobbler, and Vanessa Hua encourages imbibing lychee martinis while reading her novel. With more than 20 recipes, hundreds of book suggestions, and fantasy invite lists to literary dinner parties of all kinds, What to Eat with What You Read is both a useful guide and an intimate look at the tastes and taste buds of 24 of our favorite authors.

Click here to see 2019 – Week One, Week Two posts.

Click here to see 2018 – Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four and Week Five posts.

Are you in a book club? Tell me all about it! How long have you been meeting?

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  1. I had no idea there were so many books about book clubs. How wonderful! Yes, I am currently in a book club with my sister, daughter, niece and best friend. It’s so fun, regardless of what we read. So far we’ve only read nonfiction books. We’re currently reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s book The Art of Living.


  2. Books about books and book-related activities are the absolute best. I’m going to have to get a copy of Bookworms Anonymous as I need to see the full Book Handling Commandments list and may need to have them etched in stone. Book club is a highlight for me every month. Such a great time and good conversation. We’ve only been meeting for 5 years, but it’s going strong. Are you in a book club? If so, how long have you guys been meeting? Your topic here is one of my favorites this week.


    • Aww, thanks so much for stopping by and commenting… This is my favorite month of the year! I’m glad you found a good book to add to your list. I’m not in any traditional book clubs, but I’ve joined a few buddies reads where we discuss online.


  3. This is great and a brilliant resource. I actually wrote a book about book clubs myself! It’s called “Iris Murdoch and the Common Reader” and was the outcome of a research project on Iris Murdoch: I gave 25 book clubs an Iris Murdoch novel to read to see if reading off their usual diet of prize-winners and classics and looking at a mid-century literary fiction novel that wasn’t one of those was a valid book group read. It was lovely interacting with all the book clubs and seeing how they fit the research on book clubs in general. If it’s OK to blow my own trumpet, you can read about my project and book here if you’re interested: https://librofulltime.wordpress.com/about/iris-murdoch/

    I read some older research about the make-up and history of book groups which was fascinating. Ive dug around in my bibliography and see I read J. Hartley – “Reading Groups”, K. Farr and J. Harker, “The Oprah Effect”, E. Long – “Book Clubs: Women and the Uses of Reading in Everyday Life”, K. Rooney – “Reading with Oprah”.


    • Hi there – I’m definitely going to check out that link… I’m embarrassed to admit I’m not familiar with Iris Murdoch, but I love the idea of shaking up people’s usual genres. Cathy Lamb’s latest book, All About Evie – has a character that runs a bookstore and when people come in claiming that they ONLY read one genre, she usually yells at them, sits them down with tea and cake and then next thing you know, its an hour later and the person is immersed in whatever book she wants them to read. Thanks for commenting!


  4. Aw I love this list!! I am in a book club, about ten years now. We were all friends first before deciding to have a book club together, and over the years as our lives have changed, we pick a book to read but it’s become more symbolic. Lol. Sometimes some of us read them, other months not so much. I usually read the choices, but its become more about us getting together once a month without fail, which can become hard with schedules and just life. 🙂


  5. Great list! I created a book club for my block 7 years ago. But we are special: we don’t read the same book. Instead, at each meeting, each member (between 8 and 12) share about the book they enjoyed reading during the past month. We love our format, but as you can imagine, it’s deadly for our TBRs. You discover so many books in so many genres!
    Today, my theme is birds: https://wordsandpeace.com/2019/11/12/nonfiction-november-2018-expert-on-bird-books/


  6. These are fabulous recommendations for all who are in book clubs.

    I’ve been in a book club in my town for many years. It’s so much fun to meet and talk books.


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