A Year in the Life: A Look Back at 2021 in the Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club

Readers, I’m delighted to welcome back my friend and team member Ginger Horton. She’s the Community Manager for Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club. I asked her to share some reflections on what Book Club was up to this past year. Welcome to the blog, Ginger! – Anne

I’ve been a member of the Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club community literally since day one. As I admitted last year, I was a fangirl before I was a team member. The moment the MMD Book Club was announced in 2016, I couldn’t sign up fast enough.

Over the past five years together, I’ve met kindred spirits, heard from some of my favorite authors, added countless books to my TBR (and as importantly whittled books off of my TBR as I learn more about what suits my reading life), and learned to read better together with some of the most insightful readers I’ve ever met.

I thought it would be fun to take a look back at all the bookish goodness we’ve shared together this past year. As we celebrated our five year anniversary this summer, the Book Club member site got a new look, new features, and a brand new Instagram account.

If you’d like to nerd out with me over some numbers, we’ve had:

  • 13 authors and experts join us for live book discussions
  • 7 Member Meetup small groups
  • 5 film watch parties
  • 4 seasonal book preview unboxings
  • 4 winter series sessions on setting your reading intentions to go along with the Reading Challenge
  • 3 sessions of Book School
  • 1 Ask Anne Anything session
  • a 3-day Readers’ Weekend

Here’s a small taste from each of our three “C’s”—classes, community, and conversation.

Photo credit: @daysathomereading

Classes

Our Winter Series to go along with the Reading Challenge is still paying dividends in readers’ lives. We set our reading intentions, exploring why we read and what we hope to get out of our reading lives. We cleaned out the bookish clutter, and created a capsule bookshelf.

Then this fall, we went back to Book School, learning what kind of classics readers we are, learned more about the writing process for readers and aspiring writers with Kimmery Martin, and explored one of our most frequently asked questions: how to write a book review.

Classes on the Harlem Renaissance, Things You Should Know About Publishing, how to Discover Your Summer Reading Style, and How to Find Your Book People rounded out the year.

Community

If you ask me, the best part of Book Club is the community. It’s such a thrill to be able to hop on the member site any time, day or night, to gush about that book you just have to talk about right now.

From the dashboard to the forums, from live Member Meetups where we chat in small groups about everything from spring cleaning your bookshelves to discussing that month’s flight pick, from watch parties to seasonal book unboxing events, from informal sessions of Ask Anne Anything to our Readers’ Weekend complete with a bingo challenge and opening and closing ceremonies, bookish people are the best people.

There are fun traditions like YA in May and Austen in August, plus new traditions like Shakespeare in September and our summer Backlist Book Club. We watched films like When Harry Met Sally to King Lear. (Yup, we really watched Nora Ephron and Shakespeare this year, and a few others besides. I love being in a place where people love both Kathleen Kelly and Joe Fox and Cordelia and Lear).

Photo credit: @hattiesbookshelf

Conversation

When I began to compile the numbers for this post, I could barely believe how many authors and experts we talked to. I remembered how delightful Louise Miller, J. Ryan Stradal, and Nadia Hashimi were when they shared favorite foods or cookbooks. I remembered how Devoney Looser, M.L. Rio, and Bezi Yohannes were so sharp and smart that they took me right back to that delightful “best professor ever” classroom feeling. And I remembered learning things I never knew about graphic novels from Lucy Knisley, the writing life from Lily King, immigrants in the southern United States from Stacey Lee, and moonshine from Amy Jo Burns.

I had forgotten just how many authors we talked to—13 in all! That’s more than one a month. Sure we discuss their books, but as you can see, the conversation always leads in new and surprising directions, and we hear that author talks are one of members’ very favorite parts of Book Club.

With all this bookish goodness it’s hard to imagine how we’ll pack more in before the year is out, but there’s still more to come. On December 16 we’re talking with Ingrid Fetell Lee, author of Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness. (I can’t stop talking about why I love this book!)

We’ve already applied a few Joyful principles in Book Club: abundance, freedom, and surprise are guiding us as we depart from our usual routine in January. Instead, we are hosting a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure read next month, tapping six of the best-loved Book Club reads and empowering members to choose their monthly pick. Rereading is one way experienced readers get more out of their reading lives, and we plan on making a gentle case to consider rereading in a class this January—A Conversation on Rereading

Take a look at our calendar of events for all that’s coming up and consider this an invitation to join us. As we say, it’s so good to be among people who are reading!

P.S. Book Club makes a great last minute gift for your favorite bookworm (or for yourself). See all gift membership options here.

P.P.S. Fill your house with joyful light and A Year in the Life: A Look Back at 2020 in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club.

13 comments

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  1. Janice McBratney says:

    Ginger, such a great post! You all work hard at MMD to meet your readers’ needs and wants. I love being a part of this inspiring community. Happy New Year to all!

  2. Ruthie says:

    GREAT post. What a packed year! Seeing the tantalizing array of events, classes, and other resources displayed as a bundle made the value of membership apparent. Okay, you got me. I bit.
    I’ve been interested in the book club since its inception, but am not a “joiner,” and didn’t want to be locked into an obligation (e.g., meeting times, or expectations to speak / actively participate), but with so much of the content available as a video library to watch as I please, when I please, those potential barriers aren’t issues after all.
    I expect to use the video library to watch author talks and classes as calming and inspiring sessions to help me relax at the end of the day… my “introvert’s cool-downs.” I’m a big fan of Ingrid Fetell Lee’s work, and look forward to her upcoming talk.
    Congrats on a stellar year in 2021! I’m looking forward to the year ahead as a MMD Book Club member!

    • Ginger says:

      We’re so excited to have you with us, Ruthie! It really is fun to see it listed together. I love hearing how you’re planning to use your membership as an end of day “introvert cooldown.” Genius moves.

  3. Kate Dillingham says:

    MMD Book Club has been a huge part of my life since I joined in spring of 2020. My reading life has expanded many times over in that Book Club exposes me to genres and stories that I never would have found on my own. Listening to the authors talk about their books adds another dimension to my appreciation and I look forward to every class. Thank you so much, Ginger and Anne, for making this book club relevant and so enjoyable.

  4. Thank you so much for the recap Ginger! The author chats are so well organized and what a GIFT they are to us members! Hearing the BTS from the authors is so fun! Thanks again MMD Team – you enhance my life so much! Love this community.

  5. Gini says:

    Was anyone else worried by that introduction?! I thought Ginger was leaving us! So glad you are just providing the recap. Whew!! It has been a year of great books and book talk. Keep it up, MMD team!

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