Readers, today I’m delighted to welcome my friend and team member into this space, because she has a unique perspective on our bookish community. Nearly five years ago, Ginger Horton applied for a job she didn’t know existed (because I hadn’t said a single word publicly), and I knew at once she was the perfect person for the role of Community Manager for our then-brand-new Modern Mrs Darcy Book Club. She’s held the role ever since, and Book Club (and let’s be honest, my life) is better for it. Welcome to the blog, Ginger!
Throughout this post we’re also sharing photos from our members of their Book Club moments. Enjoy!
When I look back at my reading life, there are a few key moments that stand out—when I first read Jane Eyre in high school and learned I was a Reader (capital “R”), the first (and only) time I closed the back cover of a book then flipped right back to the beginning to reread it right away (for the curious: Atonement by Ian McEwan), and when I joined the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club.
These days, I work as our Book Club Community Manager, which basically means I get to hang out in our member community every day and talk books with other readers. Both for our members (hi!) and for those who’d welcome a peek at what we do, I thought it would be fun to take a look back at all the bookish goodness we’ve enjoyed together this year in Book Club.
What We Do
We like to say what we do is the three “C’s”—classes, community, and conversation (don’t book people love a good alliteration?). So I’ve selected one or two from each to give you a taste, but if you’d like to geek out with me first to some numbers, we’ve had
• 9 authors join us for live book discussions
• 5 sessions of Book School
• 3 each of seasonal book previews, film watch parties, and member meetup small groups
• 2 Ask Anne Anything sessions
• and 1 life-giving virtual retreat weekend (a moment of which is pictured above)
I wish I could tell you all the fun things we did this year, but it would be pages and pages, so here’s a little taste …
Since audiobook popularity is booming, Book Club hosted the Guide to an Awesome Audiobook Experience class in June where we explored why, where, and how to listen, highlighted tons of favorite books and narrators, and shared tips for finding the right audiobooks for you.
In what’s become a Book Club tradition, we celebrated Austen in August, reading The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner, who joined us to chat. (Delight doesn’t even begin to describe her stories about visiting Chawton House!). Then we got nerdy with our All About Emma class, where we explored literary context and fun facts to enhance your Austen reading experience.
We went Back to Book School this fall, starting a five-part series of accessibly nerdy classes on the literary life. We learned how to read with a literary lens, discussing genre, structure, characterization, theme, retention, plot, and so much more. It was all kinds of nerdy fun, and provoked so many great conversations.
In March, we finally convinced our own Anne Bogel to let us read one of her books together. This was the first time we’d done this as a club, and it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. Don’t Overthink It was the perfect book to read for 2020, when we all had to contend with overthinking—perhaps more than ever.
We put the strategies from Don’t Overthink It to good use, and discussed tips and tricks that were working well for us when we broke into small groups in our first-ever Member Meetup.
Getting to talk with fellow readers in real time, or any time in our member community, is one of the best parts of Book Club. Many members say they don’t have anyone in their life who loves reading as much as they do—and it’s great fun to find a community of kindred spirits. Member meetups were a hit! And we continued them on different topics throughout the year.
March was a busy month, as we also conducted one of my favorite sessions ever—Genius Moves for the Reading Life, where our team members and readers shared the often-unexpected strategies that make their reading lives sing: like what time of day they read, how they track their books, which bookmarks and post-its they love, and even what size tv to buy to read more. And one particularly controversial move that inspired much debate—whether to read the last page first or not.
May brought us a member favorite read for the year, Lovely War by Julie Berry. Having the author with us was a delight as she talked about the music in the novel, how the editors changed her ending (and then changed it back!), mythology, and her love for The Great Courses. Plus, we almost never make it through an author talk without recommendations from them for more great books they love, and Julie Berry did not disappoint.
We’re all still basically gushing over our new friend “Liz,” also known as Elizabeth Acevedo, after she talked to us about our September read, The Poet X (we loved her writing so much, we’re reading more of her work next year).
It was also so fun to talk to authors Marjan Kamali, Alix Harrow, William Kent Krueger (he gave us a reading of his very favorite passage he’s ever written!), Chanel Cleeton, and Tayari Jones.
With all this bookish goodness, it’s hard to imagine how we’ll pack more in before the year is out, but there’s more to come. We’re leaning hard into comfort reading this winter, starting with Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah along with our first-ever graphic memoir, Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley.
Readers, this isn’t even all of what we did in 2020. I didn’t have the space to touch on all the flight picks we read together, but I hope these highlights was full of good memories for those of us in the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club, and give you a good idea of what we’ve been up to.
It’s so good to be among people who are reading! We’ve loved reading with all our members this year and cannot wait to read with you next year. Take a look at our calendar of events to see what’s coming up and then sign up to join us for classes, community, and conversation!
P.S. Book Club makes a great last minute gift for your favorite bookworm (or for yourself). See all gift membership options here.