By January 30, 2008 2 Comments Read More →

Austentacious

So you’ve probably been wondering how my 70+ book group turned out? No? Well, let me tell you anyway. Please? Okay, so here’s what happened. First, I shouldn’t have been all up in arms over 70+ RSVPs. Because only 35 people showed up. Which is still about 20 too many for a good book discussion according to Teddy B.

I had five round tables with seven people at each table. About two days before the program, I called our guest facilitator, Zarrin, and told her I needed a short presentation on her topic, about 15 to 20 minutes, and then she and I would bounce from table to table getting conversation started. Zarrin thought that was a good idea and reworked her remarks. I made up five packets of information on Jane Austen‘s life, the novels, a few discussion topics, some illustrations and historical background.

As the attendees arrived, I would chat with most of them and then cajoled wheedled abjectly begged invited my friends or most gregarious book group members to be table facilitators. I gave each one a folder with the information and told them to go with the flow, as long as conversation revolved around Jane Austen, no one would get too picky.

I announced to the crowd that they should feel free to move from table to table to take part in other conversations after Zarrin had provided some tidbits for us all to gnaw on.

This method worked beautifully. Zarrin and I moved from table to table and after a while, it was just me. Zarrin was the Austenite of the moment and was constantly getting flagged down to elaborate on her thematic overlay theories in Austen’s novels.

Conversation was fascinating. One table discussed the merits of literary continuations and retellings in the Austen vein; another table compared all versions of the Pride & Prejudice movies to the book; another table took up Zarrin’s topic and looked at the characters of all the cads and tried to determine which was the most despicable.

It went much better than I anticipated and I have given thought to doing another book group like this as a special event. It required very little preparation time and set up. We had copies of  to give away as table prizes. (donated by the FOL. I didn’t have any $$ to buy.)

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

2 Comments on "Austentacious"

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  1. mishamstone@yahoo.com' misha says:

    I wish I could have been there–it looks like this was a lot of fun. Great blog, too!

  2. cynthiabaxter@metagenics.com' Cynthia from the Pierce County Book Club says:

    Thank you so much for this timely article! I myself have a large number of rsvp’s – though nothing close to your count – however, 18 is a large crowd to have in my living room! Needless to say, I’m close to panic. We keep it pretty casual with our group – I try to create an atmosphere that enhances conversation about the Monthly Selection. This includes a soundtrack of music inspired by or mentioned in the book, a signature martini based upon the book (for example, we had Huckleberry Cosmos when we read Adventures of Huckleberry Finn) and a few hors d’oeuvres that again, are inspired by the book. The members also bring dishes that are within the theme (announced quarterly with the book selections on our newsletter) and we sit back and enjoy ourselves and enjoy talking about the book. Though we have 39 members in total – 7 are considered core members who show up at every event. This Saturday, we are discussing “Abundance” by Sena Jeter Naslund and we decided the theme was “overindulgence” which screamed “CHOCOLATE” – so everything is Chocolate – Chocolate martinis, truffles, cakes, cookies, bread….you name it – and I have 18 members coming….pray for me….

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