Readers face a constant dilemma that seems to have two horns: one is struggling to find the time to read everything in the teetering stack of books on the bedside table; the other is choosing which books to read in the first place. After all, if we’re going to invest our precious time and money in a book, we really want to know in advance that’ll be worth it!
Well, no has yet come up with the solution for those of us with the teetering book stacks. But when it comes to choosing really GOOD books to add to your list, Reading Group Choices have fantastic resources to offer.
Barbara and Charlie Mead ARE Reading Group Choices. It’s their one and only business, they do it full time, and they treat it like the calling it is, rather than like a job of which they might tire one day. I had the pleasure of meeting this dynamic couple several years ago, and their passion for books—and especially for Book Clubs—sets alight everyone who comes within their circle. Barbara summed it up with, “We LOVE book clubs.”
RGC was actually founded in 1994 by another dynamic couple, Donna Paz Kaufman and Mark Kaufman, whom I also have the pleasure of knowing. Donna and Mark are primarily consultants to book stores, yet they responded to requests from book club managers by creating a small printed guide filled with reading suggestions they’d culled from publishers’ recommendations and their own careful reading. To the mutual satisfaction of all, the Meads took over a decade later.
What’s changed since they took the helm in 2004? Probably everything, except their core values. “Book marketing is changing so fast! The exciting thing is there are now so many more ways of reaching readers,” Barbara enthused. “At RGC, now we have our website, e-newsletter, and my blog. And we still have the printed guide, its eighteenth edition just going to press.” Do they really still love their work as much as ever? “Oh, it’s such a good thing,” she confirmed, “to talk with publishers, authors, and be the resource for book clubs.”
I asked what they offer that would be hard to find elsewhere. “What we provide is intimate, hands-on service. We’re not a sterile on-line-only provider, nor are we offering a lot of other services. This is ALL we do. For example, we send a personal response to any book club inquiry, whether it’s about genre or content. And the thing is, we know our books, and we tune in to our readers.”
How does membership in a book club actually enhance someone’s life? Barbara echos some of my own thoughts from Author On the Bookcase: Mara Purl today. “Unbelievably!” she exclaimed. “When you get together with people who’ve read a book, not only do you discuss the characters and their situations. What’s more important is that the book then extends to their lives and to the worlds they live in. Perhaps the book is from a different culture, or a different time period. Well, you discuss what life might be if you lived there or then. It opens every possibility for the reader.”
So, suddenly you’re not alone, feeling a little crazy as a reader. Now you’re getting vivid validation as you say out loud your innermost impressions and feelings. And you’re traveling somewhere in good company.
Reading Group Choices is free to book clubs. All that members have to do is visit the site, or make a call. Publishers appreciate their services too. “We provide bridges from the publishers to the readers,” Barbara explained, “so they can really reach the right readers. Most publishers are not able to send their authors out much. So we bring the author and the reader together as much as possible. That’s what we want to do, get the readers and the authors together one way or another.”
Well, that’s my goal too—to connect with you, my readers. So enjoy my post on Barbara’s fantastic blog. And feel free to make use of the Reading Guide for What the Heart Knows posted on the wonderful website www.ReadingGroupChoices.com.
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