Violet2233 is the winner of Valerie’s giveaway! Watch for an email from her!
I’m so happy to welcome back Valerie Burns. She’s one of those people who I wonder how she does it all. Valerie is one of the hardest working women I know! She’s here celebrating the release of Bookclubbed to Death!
Thanks, Sherry Harris and all of the Wicked Authors for inviting me to spend time with you all today.
Bookclubs: Pack or Lone Wolf?
Over the years, I’ve belonged to quite a few different types of clubs. I’ve been involved with everything from dog clubs to an investment club at various levels. Some clubs require payment of monthly/annual dues, but not much more. While others require attendance at regular meetings and participation in the club’s activities. Even though I’m an avid reader, I have yet to join a book club. Nevertheless, a book club features prominently in my next Mystery Bookshop Mystery, Bookclubbed to Death. So, I’ve asked myself, why not?
What’s the big deal about clubs, you ask? Clubs represent a gathering of like-minded people to achieve a common goal. When I was involved in an investment club, our goal was to pool our money together to learn about and invest in stocks. The idea that one person alone investing a meager $25 dollars, wouldn’t be able to buy much when it came to the stock market. However, if twenty people all pooled their resources, together our combined $500 per month could result in bigger investments and consequently bigger returns. That was the theory, anyway. Along the way, we educated ourselves on the stock market. Things went along well for about a year, but then attendance declined. The zeal the members felt at the club’s inception petered out. Attendance at the monthly meetings declined. Dues weren’t paid in a timely manner, and we eventually disbanded the club.
Book clubs are different. Usually, no money is required to join a book club. A group of bibliophiles agree to read and discuss books. Sure, most members would need to purchase the books that weren’t available at a library, but then we’re talking about book lovers. Chances are, they were going to buy those books anyway. According to an article in Book Riot, more than five million Americans attend a book club either in person or virtually. And there are book clubs for every interest and socioeconomic classification. In person or virtual clubs abound for women, men, professionals, LGBTQIA+, or pretty much any other group imaginable. My sister’s book club reads the occasional book, but meets monthly to drink wine and socialize. Different strokes for different folks.
So, why haven’t I joined a book club? No idea. I have no doubt that I could find a cozy mystery lovers’ virtual book club that would provide a great opportunity to talk about cozies with people who love them as much as I do—my tribe. Yet, something always prevents me from taking the plunge. Based on my age and personality, I suspect that the group concept isn’t my thing, especially when it comes to books. Time is short—too short. I don’t want to take up my limited time to read books that don’t appeal to me. I don’t want to read books that I don’t want to read. I want to read what I want to read when I want to read it. When it comes to books, I expect Burger King. I want it my way!
In my newest book, Bookclubbed to Death, Sam hosts The Mystery Mavens book club at her bookstore. The leader of the club, Delia Marshall, is a demanding autocrat who runs the club with an iron fist. Plus, she’s also a book reviewer who wields a great deal of power. Even though, Delia Marshall bears no resemblance to any book club leaders (or reviewers) that I know, I suspect she and the Mystery Mavens represent my worst fears when it comes to organized clubs. Maybe now that the book is written, I’ve exorcised those demons. It just might be time to reconsider the book club thing. Afterall, no club could ever be as bad.
Readers: How do you feel about book clubs? Do you enjoy reading and discussing books with a group? Or, do you prefer to go solo and read what you want when you want? Let me know in the comments. One commenter (US only) will be randomly selected to win a copy of Bookclubbed to Death. The contest will remain open until December 31 and the winner announced on January 1.
BOOKCLUBBED TO DEATH
When the bookshop she owns becomes a crime scene, mystery writer Samantha Washington discovers there is such a thing as bad publicity . . .
After the local library in North Harbor, Michigan, is flooded in a storm, Sam offers her bookstore as a new venue for the Mystery Mavens Book Club. Unfortunately, she immediately runs afoul of the club leader, Delia Marshall, a book reviewer who can make or break careers—something Sam can ill afford with her debut historical mystery soon to be published.
But the next morning, Sam opens her shop to find the unpleasant woman dead on the floor, bashed with a heavy—apparently lethal—tome: the Complete Works of Agatha Christie. While Sam is busy writing her latest British historical mystery in which the queen mother is suspected in the murder of a London Times correspondent, a pair of ambitious cops suspect Sam of the real-life crime. When she gathers Nano Jo and their friends from the Shady Acres Retirement Village to review the case, they discover every one of the Mavens had a motive. With her novel about to hit the stores, Sam must find out who clubbed Delia before a judge throws the book at her . . .
About the author
Valerie (V. M.) Burns is an Agatha, Edgar, and Anthony Award-nominated author. She is the author of the Mystery Bookshop, Dog Club, RJ Franklin, and Baker Street Mystery series. Valerie is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She is also a mentor in Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction MFA program. Connect with Valerie at:
I used to belong to a book club and the reasons you listed as to why you don’t belong to one are the reasons I had to quit. They would pick books I had no interest in reading and when I offered up a book, they weren’t interested. Also they met once a month, by that time, I would have read 10+ books. And the kicker is that 50% of the members did not read the book or finish the book. So now I read what I want when I want.
That part about members who don’t read the book has truly amazed me. I always wondered, why bother going if you weren’t going to read the book. Life is too short not to read what you want when you want to read it.
I’m more of a Lone Wolf reader. I have my favorite authors and genres and usually stick to that. I have nothing against book clubs, they just choose books that don’t interest me.
Brenda, I have a long list of favorite authors and thankfully, they keep me busy. So, no time to read books that don’t interest me, either. Good luck!
I like book clubs but because seniors are still worried about covid it hasn’t started back up yet.
Kim, It sounds like you have a good club. Hopefully, 2023 will bring your club back together again. Thanks for commenting and good luck!
Welcome back, Valerie! Bookclubbed to Death sounds fantastic! I’ve been in several book clubs over the years. They suited a need at the time, but now I want to read what I want to read. I do like talking about books I’ve read with people who’ve read them.
Just have to say HI! to Valerie. I love your books.
Sam and the ladies are so much fun.
As for bookclubs, I did well with an online one a few years back but it fell apart. I tried a mystery one at my library but their books were all thrillers and too graphic for my tastes. So a long wolf I am…
Janet, thank you so much for the kind words. I am always thrilled when I find readers who enjoy reading them. I’m not into graphic violence or gore, so I tend to stick with cozies and traditional mysteries with the occasional thriller. Cheers to the Lone Wolves! Good luck!
Sherry, Its awesome to discuss books with people who have read them. I think you have a great opportunity to do that here. What a wonderful group. Thank you so much for allowing me to spend time with your group. And congratulations on your new release!
I used to be a completely Lone Wolf reader and read whatever I wanted whenever I wanted.
But about a year or so before the pandemic, the director of my town’s local library started up a Mystery Book Club. I saw the notice for it in the newspaper and for some reason I decided to go to the first meeting.
I ended up enjoying the idea (though that first month’s book was TERRIBLE) and continued going. After losing it for two years, the director who had started it had moved on to a new position so it was left to the woman who would run the meetings previously. She asked me to help, and I said yes.
The club has never been large but the people who do attend regularly make it interesting when we meet to talk about the books that are chosen. Also, since no one else seems to really offer book title suggestions, I’ve taken to making a list each month to offer up a varied selection of books to choose from. I always encourage others to offer suggestions, but they never do, so at least this gives people some ideas. I also check the number of available books in the system to make sure there are enough copies for any book on the list.
And while there have been varying levels of enjoyment for the books, the cross-section of opinions is interesting to hear.
Jay, that sounds like a really nice club. I love that you make sure the library has plenty of copies available, too. That is very thoughtful. Not everyone can afford to go out and buy the books (especially if they are hardback) when they may not know if they like it. Very thoughtful. Good luck!
I’m with you, Valerie–Burger King, have it my way lol! I wouldn’t care for reading something I didn’t choose. Or having to explain why I feel like I do about a certain character, plot, etc.
Kathy, LOL – Everyone is entitled to their opinions and we all have different likes and dislikes. Life is too short not to “have it your way!” 🙂 Good luck!
Although I’ve never belonged to a book club, I’m not against them. It’s just that I’ve always lived in very small towns and a book club would almost be like a community gathering. As far as I’ve known, there’s never been one in my area. I’m not able to be on the computer long enough to do a virtual one and don’t know if I would be comfortable with doing that if I was. I do have several friends that we share books and often discuss them one on one after a book is returned to me or vice versa.
Love your books! “Bookclubbed to Death” is definitely on my TBR list. I would love the opportunity to read and review it. Thank you very much for the chance to win a copy!
2clowns at arkansas dot net
Kay, I think your method of discussing books with close friends vs a “community gathering” is working. Thank you so much. I am thrilled that you are still enjoying the Mystery Bookshop Mystery series. I hope Bookclubbed to Death doesn’t disappoint. Thank you for sharing and good luck!
I’m so glad to find that I’m not the only Lone Wolf reader when it comes to book clubs! Although meeting with people who like a genre of books I enjoy sounds appealing, I really prefer to choose which book I really want to read and spend time on. Time is precious when you’re much older! I would like to discuss a book I read but only if I have finished reading it, and everyone else has read it. I don’t want to inadvertently disclose a surprise or plot twist in the book to someone who hasn’t read it, or color one’s decision in a negative way that affects their decision on whether to read it or not. However, if I have nothing good to say I say nothing, but even what you enjoyed may not be another’s cup of tea. I think I’m overthinking this!
Mary, I think you are completely right. I hate giving something away to people who haven’t read or finished a book. That’s the joy of reading a mystery, finding the clues and putting them together to solve the mystery. We all have different tastes. I’ve loved books others dislike and vice versa. I used to feel the need to broadcast my opinion, but like you, if I don’t have anything good to say, I say nothing. Thanks for sharing and good luck!
Congratulations on another wonderful book! Discussing a book reminds me too much of English class. I always hated it. “Don’t call on me!” Instead of discussing a book I would much rather be home reading another book.
Violet, I used to avoid making eye contact in the hopes that I wouldn’t get called out in English class (usually to discuss Shakespeare and iambic pentameter). It seldom worked, but I always tried. Thanks for the kind words. Good luck!
Congratulations for your brilliant writing, Valerie!!! I am now very eager to read Bookclubbed to Death because you wrote it, but also because my book club is now about 80% of my social life. Our club started meeting at a local tea parlor (closed now) 7 years ago, and we have created life-long relationships that have endured time and distance. Some of our members have moved away from our little California town to places like Tennessee, Kansas and New Mexico. During the pandemic, Zoom got us back together. The owner of the tea parlor used to bake delicious items mentioned in the cozy books that we read, and now we just trade recipes, and I research any interesting facts or locales mentioned in the chapters we read. We meet weekly on Wednesday evenings for about 1 hour, and we even wear hats for the final review of a book. Thank you for delighting us with your FUN-tastic characters and intriguing plots! Happy New Year !!!! luis at ole dot travel
Luis, your book club sounds marvelous. If only all book clubs could be like that, more people would probably want to join. It’s always fun to try recipes from the books or learn fun facts about the locations. It sounds like you have a committed group and that’s awesome. Thanks for the kind words. I wish you good luck and Happy New Year!
Looking forward to Bookclubbed to Death! Sounds like a delicious topic and one that explains why I, like you, have never joined a book club. I do toy with the idea, but so far, nope.
Kait, I hope that you will enjoy Bookclubbed to Death. I hope no one ever encounters a book club like the Mystery Mavens, but I do hold out hope of one day finding the perfect group to discuss the books that I love. Good luck!
I’ve been in book clubs for nearly 20 years. Clubs where members are serious book lovers and are there to discuss the cover, author, content, style of the books. Your guest author is correct. Sometimes I’ve read books outside of my normal range but that’s what I love about book clubs. The opportunity to stretch my interests and grow. I’ve just published a historical fiction, The Bootmaker’s Wife, which I hope will be a book club favorite.
Mershon, it sounds like you’ve found some great book clubs. That’s awesome. I agree that reading outside of your norm can be a great opportunity. Good luck with your book.
I’m with you. I love the idea of a book club, but I can’t be enthused about someone else dictating what I read. I already have my reading schedule set into the first part of February, so I don’t have the time for that. But I would very much love to be able to discuss books I’ve loved with out people in real life. (No need to enter me in the giveaway.)
Mark, I am in awe that you have your reading schedule set. That’s impressive. Thank you so much for commenting. Happy New Year and Happy Reading!
Right there with you, Valerie! I was in a book group at work once, with three other tech writers who also had PhDs (men) and several women who didn’t. We ladies wanted to say what we liked about it. The guys wanted to analyze it endlessly. No thanks!
Congratulations on the release – it sounds like a great read.
Edith, I think endlessly analyzing books would be painful. Glad you got free. Thanks for the well wishes and for letting me join the Wickeds today!
I have belonged to a mystery book club for over 30 years. I have enjoyed our discussions over the years. We all have different tastes so I’ve read some thrillers I might not have tried, and I have introduced the group to cozy mysteries.
Lynn, congratulations. It sounds like you’ve found a great club. Thanks for sharing. Good luck!
I’ve never joined a book club because I want to read on my own timeline. I don’t want to read a book that doesn’t interest me and have to read it in time for the next book club get together.
Diane, I agree 100%. Thanks for sharing. Good luck!
I like the book clubs I’ve been part of but generally am a solo reader. I like the clubs largely for being introduced to new books but also the camaraderie. They were great for me during 2020 when I had little social interaction.
Rachel, I’m glad you found a book club you liked during the pandemic. Social interaction is important. It’s nice when it can include something you love, like books.
Years ago, I belonged to a book club that read a variety of types of books. It encouraged me to read outside of my box. Mostly, I loved it. We then moved and I found a cozy mystery book club. Definitely, my cup of tea (or coffee.) It is held at a wonderful indie bookstore (Aaron’s in Lititz, PA). The owner provides a list (with descriptions) of cozies that we choose for the next 6 months. We can either buy the books from her or get them at the library. She doesn’t care either way. However, we do only choose paperbacks because they are more affordable. Also, if anyone has a suggestion, it is always seriously considered. We rotate the facilitator each month so no one is the “boss”. I’m sure it helps that our group generally has between 8 and 10 members. We discuss the book, eat a goodie, and then chat about anything and everything else. A once-a-month respite from the rest of the world.
I was just ready to order Bookclubbed to Death when this blog appeared. Now, I’ll be sure to get it, as I love your writing.
Ginny, thank you for the kind words. I think your club and indie bookstore sounds great. Plus, you gotta love snacks. Thanks for sharing and good luck!
I agree with you and have never belonged to a book club. I always say to myself, what if they pick a book I don’t want to read or one I don’t like if I start it? I want to read at my own pace and some books take me longer to read than others. I read for pleasure and relaxation. I want to enjoy what I read after all is enjoyment why I read in the first place? Once someone tells me what to read and there’s a deadline to finish the book, it stops being pleasurable and relaxing. There’s pressure involved and it’s too much like a job with responsibility, expectations and deadlines. All the enjoyment kind of disappears. I will most likely never join a book club because I am one of those Burger King Girls, too. I want to have it my way.
Laurie, I think you’re right. Having a deadline changes reading from fun to a chore for me too. Burger King girls unite! 😀 good luck!
Huge congratulations on the new release, Valerie! I’ve never been part of a book club, or really any other club for that matter. I imagine that’s due to the introvert in me. Anyway, cheers to you!
Thanks, JC, I think a lot of authors are introverts (slowly raising my hand). Hope all is well with you. Keep the pics of Maria coming. She’s adorable.
I definitely enjoy book groups and discussing books with other people. I currently belong to 3, 2 in person and 1 on Zoom. While I enjoy the social aspect, my favorite part is reading outside my usual genres. I usually get books from the library, but one of the groups is run by a local independent bookstore and I buy the books to support the store.
Your series sounds delightful, not sure I’d want to be in a group run by an autocrat I’d enjoy reading about one!
Judith, three book clubs is amazing. I’m impressed. You have obviously found several good groups. That gives me hope. Thanks for sharing and good luck.
I belonged to a book club for a number of years before moving 200 miles away from my former home 8 1/2 years ago. And I had definitely reached the point that mirrors your reasons for not belonging to one, especially when reading the club choice steals away reading time from my ever-growing want-to-read list. I’ve enjoyed participating in a few FB book discussions in the past, but much prefer reading what and when I read on my own timeline. I’m looking forward to reading the latest installment of Sam’s series!
Cheryl, there are some amazing Facebook discussions. I’ve participated in those,too. I am glad you enjoy the series. Good luck!
I belonged to an investment club for 20 years and like yours, our dues were $25 a month. After 20 years, our kids were grown and on their own and many of us traveled a lot so couldn’t contribute the monthly reports an investment club required. We had become great friends and didn’t want to disband so we morphed into a book club where anyone could attend even if they hadn’t read the book. We spent the first half of the meeting socializing and the second half discussing the book. I enjoyed it but I moved cross-country and lost touch with many of the members. Looking forward to reading your new book!
Our senior group did a book club three times. I doubt the whole club will do it again but a separate book club was mentioned. I didn’t love any of the books, and some of us were livid that the last two were by the same author, and Dave had another one ready. If we have a book club, we need different people to recommend books, different genres, and more people involved and not just Dave. However, I did enjoy talking about books with others. Love your series.
Sally, I’m glad you enjoy my series. How strange to read so many books by the same author. I think rotating the book choice may be key. Hope you are able to find the ideal group. Good luck!
I like to read on my own and at my own pace. Never got into book clubs
Crystal, I think there are a lot of people who enjoy the same thing. Thanks for commenting. Good luck!
Yes. firstname.lastname@example.org. I am a member of Brenda Novak’s online Book Club. I enjoy most of the books that she has chosen. There have been a few that I have not liked. We have an option of reading one of her books if we do not want to read the one she has chosen. I also am an ARC reader and street influencer. I really enjoy reading books by authors that I enjoy. It was wonderful seeing you last night. Thank you so much for sharing. God bless you. Happy New Year.
Debbie, that’s awesome that you have a book club with options. How nice. I enjoyed the panel. Thanks for watching and commenting. Happy Holidays.
I have never belonged to a book club because I want to select my own reads. I have never found a cozy readers’ book club. That is the only kind of club that I would consider joining.
Patti, I think most of us feel the same way. Thanks for the comment and good luck
I like to read books that I like and on my own schedule. I am not a very fast reader and am not good in groups either.
Linda, I love to read books at my own pace, too. I guess I don’t like people telling me what to do. 🙂 Thanks for the comment. Good luck!
Congratulations on the release of your new book…I can’t wait to read it! I agree with your thoughts on book clubs. I don’t want to waste time reading books I’m not interested in. Life is too short!
Christi, I agree. Life is too short and my TBR pile is too large to take time away to read books I’m not interested in. Thanks for the well wishes, the comment and good luck!
I am part of one, but I only participate if it is a book I am interested in. Most of the time I prefer reading a book when I want to but sometimes it is fun to change things up.
Cherie, that’s nice that you have the flexibility to participate when you want. However, I agree that change is good (sometimes). Thank you for sharing and good luck!
I’m new here and just signed up for the newsletter. I found this via Edith Maxwell 🙂 .
I haven’t joined any book clubs other than a book club online. I think the main reason is I read approximately 9-10 books a month. Going back to a book I read a month ago is hard for me. The online book group I belong to usually is a book I’ve already read. The site admins post questions eveery few days for a few chapters and that is easier for me.
Welcome to the blog!
I’ve joined a book club years ago. I did enjoy it. Loved meeting other book people like myself. I’m more of a solo reader now. I like reading at my own pace and picking out what book to read from my own shelves now.
Thanks so much for the chance!
Yes! I do not like book clubs because they want to read NY Times Bestsellers that are weird and not that good and they try to be so into heavy comments. I used to teach English, and we would read books and discuss them and that was the way to do it.
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