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What is “Celebrating Books”?

February 28, 2011

I’m hoarse. Well, almost. I’ve been getting so many questions about how our public book clubs work. I think I’ll just blog about it and refer everyone here—would that be rude? (As if I could even stop myself from talking about it…)

Our flyer says, “We’ll select engaging books, provide fun games, book-themed refreshments and décor, and professionally facilitate rich book discussions. All you need to do is read the book and come to the meetings prepared to discuss it with fellow readers.” But as one of our current book club members complained, “That doesn’t even begin to cover what actually goes on at our book club.”

It is a bit complicated to explain, because my partner, Kay, and I never do anything the easy way—we like to go “over-the-top.” In fact our motto is “If you’re not ready to go overboard, don’t get on the frickin’ boat!” So I guess the best way to explain what we do is to give an example.

One of our book clubs last year celebrated Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, by Beth Hoffman. It’s a delightful book club favorite which has been characterized as “The Secret Life of Bees meets The Help.” So as that description might imply, in addition to a heart-warming story, there are also some darker issues such as Loss, Abandonment, Race, and Belonging that make for a rich book discussion. We re-created a garden party that was held in CeeCee’s honor from the book—and the group decided that they wanted to dress up “Southern Garden Party”-style for the occasion. (Being the dork, that I am, I came as CeeCee’s crazy dead mother with beauty queen tiara, sash, and red high-heels.) To help set the tone, the background music was inspired by the character Thelma Rae—whose home was always enveloped in classical music. The table tops were strewn with floral fabrics, floral arrangements, and even some fresh roses from a member’s garden. Each member received an embroidered handkerchief as a party favor (if you’ve read the book, you remember the pivotal moment when Aunt Tootie handed CeeCee hers), while we served camellia cupcakes, another member’s homemade brownies, and—a Savannah favorite—Long Island iced tea. (They were virgin—I did mention these were public book clubs, right?) After setting the stage, we opened the meeting by played a “famous quotes” game from the book, and the winner received a beautiful cloisonné humming bird—practically plucked from the cover of the book—as her Fabulous Prize. And then…we dove into the book!

This is why we call our program, “Celebrating Books”—it’s more than a Book Club, it’s a Book Party! And we realize this program may not be for everyone, but those who join have a blast—and Kay and I wouldn’t miss this experience for the world!

For those who live in the Yolo County area of California, we are holding an informational meeting for a new Celebrating Books program tomorrow at The Woodland Community and Senior Center at 1 pm in Room #3. You’re welcome to come and bring a friend—or just make new ones!

Cheers!

BCC

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