|Barbara Delinsky (c) Mark Bennington|
Book Groups and Me
"I’ve met with more than 200 book groups—mostly by speakerphone but plenty in person, too—in the last few years. But when I say that I have a long history with book groups, I’m usually talking about my own. My book group has been going strong for 23 years now. We don’t have a fancy name – we just call ourselves BOOK GROUP. Our membership roster has 16 names on it, though we usually get 10 to 12 bodies at a meeting. We meet once a month, pick our books for the year over dinner each June, and our list has included fiction and non-fiction, everything from classics to hot new titles. There are no other writers in the group, which means that I bring a different perspective to the discussion.
That said, we don’t read my books. At least, we didn’t until last November. Prior to then, I’d always rejected the idea. I felt we’d all be too uncomfortable – me, because my baby would be the dartboard on the wall, the others, because they’d be afraid to shoot darts. I didn’t think it would be an honest discussion.
Why did I change my mind? Quite frankly, we had simply read one too many books that were supposedly hot book group titles but that left our group with little to discuss. I knew there was lots to discuss in my novels, any one of which would spark an interesting evening. And one did, once I finally got brave enough to give our group the OK to choose one of my books. We chose While My Sister Sleeps, which is about two young women—Robin, a classic overachiever with more than a bit of local fame, and Molly, her self-effacing and lower-key younger sister. When Robin suffers a sudden massive heart attack, her parents fall apart and it’s left to Molly to make the tough decisions. Molly soon makes discoveries that shatter some of her most cherished beliefs about the sister she thought she knew. Our group went on talking an hour later than usual—no dart boards needed. This experience underscored what I had been starting to suspect (hope?) as the meetings with book clubs have mounted up over the past few years—readers who belong to and enjoy book clubs love my novels. I can think of few compliments that please me more because I know how much my own book club means to me.
With regard to my newest novel Not My Daughter, my goal was to make readers—and book group members—think. Think about the limits of friendship. The effect of peer pressure. The meaning of being a good mother. These are the themes of this novel. And love. Not My Daughter is packed with love – love between mother and daughter, between husband and wife, between friends.
Love. It’s a beautiful 4-letter word that, sadly, in some circles, is considered soft, or frothy, or … or feminine. But it takes two to tango, doesn’t it? What about men? Don’t they love? Of course, they do. They often write about it, too. Isn’t that what the macho adventure writer is doing when the guy gets the girl at the end of the chase? There are any number of prominent male writers, whom I will not name here, who include relationships in their books. Are they called Romance writers? Or frothy? Or unserious? Of course not. I’ve occasionally thought of writing under a male pseudonym just to see what kind of reception my books would get. Think about it. It’s an interesting premise.
Now that the novel is finally available in paperback, I want to invite book groups to discuss these questions, if possible with me on the other end of the phone. I usually talk with book groups 2, 3, even 4 times a week—because I love talking through these issues. Life and how other people experience it are endlessly fascinating to me. If any book groups reading this post are interested in having me join them for a chat about Not My Daughter, you’ll find a simple form on my website, www.barbaradelinsky.com. Fill it out, and my assistant Lucy will work with you to coordinate times. It’s really that easy!"
Thank-you so much to Barbara for taking the time to stop by, even though she's deep into writing her next novel.
About the author: BARBARA DELINSKY is the author of more than seventeen bestselling novels with over twenty million copies in print. She has been published in twenty-five languages worldwide. Barbara lives with her family in New England.
My blog is not the only one that Barbara is visiting this week! Be sure to visit the following blogs who are participating in her blog tour:
Always With a Book (November 15 & 16)
Book Obsessed (November 17)
Library Girl Reads (November 19)
Now for the giveaway! Jen at Random House has generously offered five of my readers a chance to win one of their hottest paperbacks! If you win, you can choose one of the following books as your prize:
Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese
Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
A Gate At The Stairs by Lorrie Moore
Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larson
Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
One Day by David Nicholls
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
Persuasion by Jane Austen, annotated by David Shapard
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, annotated by David Shapard
1. *Mandatory Entry* Let me know what book you would choose if you win OR tell me if you've ever read a book by Barbara Delinsky (no need to do both unless you feel like it- this only counts for one entry). Please leave me your e-mail address so that I can contact you if you win. No e-mail= no entry!
2. *Bonus Entry* Become a follower of this blog through Google Friend Connect and leave me a separate comment to let me know that you now follow. Already a follower? Thanks! Just leave me a separate comment to let me know that you already follow.
3. *Bonus Entry* Spread the word about this contest in whatever way you wish. You can Facebook about it, Tweet the link, blog about it or add it to your sidebar. Whatever you choose to do, make sure that you leave me a separate comment to let me know what you did (maximum 1 bonus entry for this option).
This contest will run until December 2, 2010 at midnight EST. Winners will be notified by e-mail and will have 48 hours to respond. All prizes will be sent out directly from the publisher. Those with Canadian and US mailing addresses are eligible to win. Good luck!