Eleanor & Park & Lauren & Jim

For anyone who was unaware, Lauren Abramo and I decided some weeks back to do our first ever online book club. We went with Rainbow Rowell’s delightful novel ELEANOR & PARK which, disappointingly, we both enjoyed. As such, no one was treated to watching two terribly opinionated agents facing off against each other.


For anyone who wants to see how the action went down, go to Twitter and check out #eandpdglm.


Here’s a confession: I’ve never taken part in a normal bookclub. We have one in the office where we all read different books and pitch them to each other, but that’s obviously different. With this one, though, I got to see what it was like to join with other people to chat about the same reading experience. Obviously I talk about books every day, but there was something so refreshing about doing it in a setting where nothing was at stake.


But as a newbie to the world of the traditional bookclub, I was a bit disappointed that no fights broke out and no names were called. I have to ask those of you who do this more regularly: are these events more fun when there’s someone to argue with? Or what about when a book is complicated and you really need to hash out some points?


And on a more selfish level, I’m curious—we know how many people were actively involved in our Twitter chats, but we don’t know how many people followed along later or what people thought about the format. So here’s a question: should we do it again? If so, should be keep it on Twitter? Do a different genre? Pick something more controversial? Add in a pie tossing at whoever makes the least popular comment?


Let us know! Inquiring minds, and all that…

7 Responses to Eleanor & Park & Lauren & Jim

  1. Regina says:

    I hope you keep doing it. I moved Eleanor & Park to the top of my TBR list because of the great recommendations, but only skimmed the Twitter chat because of spoiler fear.

    I was in another Twitter YA book club a few months ago and really enjoyed it, but that sort of fizzled out.

    Next time, I’d like to get the book read beforehand, and actually participate!

  2. Katie says:

    I was very interested in taking part in this until I checked out the book. With limited time to read, I tend to choose books I think will challenge me in some way, ideally books that I can learn about a world issue. I’ll continue to read the blog, and check out your selections!

  3. Joelle says:

    Bring the group to my house with some wine (or tea) and chocolate, and I’ll tell you what I think of a book. As an author myself, I just won’t say much more than a book didn’t work for me in public. It doesn’t seem professional.

    Also, while this might sound odd, but I hesitate to say I don’t like a book (or movie, or music) to someone who really loved it because sometimes you can spoil the experience for them. I’ve finished books then read reviews where someone didn’t like it for valid reasons and suddenly my joy is tainted.

    I have been in groups like DGLM’s and I really like those better, but it was kind of fun reading a book and knowing lots of others were reading it too.

  4. Chelly Wood says:

    I already have an agent, but I was googling Jim’s name for a fellow writer whose work I admire, when I came across this article about the very book I’m now reading, ELEANOR & PARK, by Rainbow Rowell.

    So I thought, “There was a Twitter feed on this?”

    I’m with Regina. I don’t think I’d take part in a Twitter chat on the book for fear of spoilers.

    However if you gave people enough advanced notice–say a month or two–before you start the reading and discussion, it might be fun to participate.

    I’m on Chap. 46 of Eleanor & Park and loving it! In addition to being a writer, I teach school and work as a part-time librarian. Trust me…this one will get recommended!

  5. Emily Carter says:

    My BOOK CLUB days:

    1. It turned into a drinking club — run by the ‘party gals’ — who were total extroverts, got drunk, made jokes, became a kind of ‘well-groomed, middle-aged drunken stand-up comic,’ sitting in a nice restaurant, drinking wine and at least mentioning the title of the book.

    2. It turned into an ailment of the week discussion club — run by the ‘church women’ — who were ‘dear old things’ more concerned with the weekly snacks [low fat, grass fed, gluten-free], and HEAVEN-FORFEND! NO CHEESE OR CHIPS! What? Books?

    3. It turned into an every-woman for herself — each reading our own choices and sputted out fairly quickly.

    4. It is perfect! A group of women with literary backgrounds. We choose a list of books each year from non-fiction, literary classics, biography and new fiction. Everyone makes suggestions, everyone votes giving a book first, second and third place to fill 12 months of reading. Members choose to be discussion leaders — send out questions and comments before the meeting. Start each meeting with “Did you like it?” We actually do discuss the literary merits of the books, characters, authors. The library purchases copies of our books so everyone has one. We have a Goodreads group. And once a month, we have Movie Night — where we gather at the home of a member who actually has a ‘theater room’ in her house where we dring and watch a movie made of the book or a movie that has a similar theme. The thing that makes this group work is the structure, the meeting room at the library where we only drink water, the movie social event, and the good books approved by the Librarian.

  6. Kellie Lovegrove says:

    This was my first experience with a book club of any sort (well there was the required reading in school, but I don’t count that)and I loved it. If y’all decide to set up another one you can count me in. Also, while I did really like Eleanor & Park, I know the next choice may not be that way and I am completely OK with that.

    As far as a suggestion, I think that since the book last time was YA it should be anything but for the next one. Not that I don’t like YA. I like many of the books in YA today, but I would really like to read and discuss something out of my comfort zone.

    I’m fine with leaving it on Twitter, though my poor fingers might hate me for it. Honestly, I don’t know a better way to have a live discussion (but I’m also not very internet savvy so there may be something else out there).

    Once again, I had a great time and am looking forward to the next one. :)

  7. Christopher Shelley says:

    Dear Lauren and Jim –
    It sounds like you are hoping to develop a book club as fight club — and I am totally in favor of this. Honesty regarding novels is hard to come by in person. People spend thousands of dollars in Graduate writing programs do be exposed to a weekly dose of honesty regarding one’s writing. Honest is usually not that pretty. When a shared read thrills everyone, it’s great to hear people get creative with why they appreciate something. When it’s time to trash the book or story, it’s fun to see how creative people can be when trying to find positives in a sea of negatives. When people go into book club treating it as fight club — wow! That’s so hot it could almost be television. Imagine a battle of wits at this high a level! Conflict! Snarkiness! Constructive criticism! It sounds great, doesn’t it?

    Good luck with the next book club!

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