También de este lado hay sueños. On this side too, there are dreams.
Lydia Quixano Pérez runs a bookstore in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She has a son, Luca, and by and large, they live a fairly comfortable life. But when Lydia’s wonderful journalist husband publishes a tell-all profile of Javier, the jefe of the newest drug cartel, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca are forced to flee. None of their lives will ever be the same as they join the countless people trying to reach el norte. Everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?
Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed. Today I’m switching it up and talking less about what to read in book club and more about the howlers chat a little about the logistics of book club when all the book clubbers aren’t in the same city.
To the club!!
Book Club Goes Long Distance
Even before relocating to the Pacific Northwest, I was in a book club with a group of my amigas who all lived at least two hours away from my place in San Diego. We met in person when we could, but relied on technology more often than not for our chats. I thought I would share my tips for long distance book clubbing for anyone in the same boat!
Structure is largely up to you. I do recommend designating one person to at least kick off the conversation (and maybe to reel it back in if the feelings get out of hand!), but tailor the participation level to your group.
Good Ol’ Fashioned Email – There was one month when the gals and I were just too busy to organize a chat of any kind and took book club back to email. Here’s how: 1) We appointed one person (me) to send out a batch of questions; everyone was asked to answer within a week of finishing the book. 2) Questions were of varying levity; some were fun (who would you cast in the movie adaptation of Gone Girl?), others more thought-provoking (discussions about women as unreliable narrators). 3) I compiled everyone’s answers (with a bit of humor and creative flair) and emailed that summary to the group. This worked well for all of our busy lives and was fun to read at each of our leisure. The email chain of our reactions went on for weeks!
Group Chat Goes Lit – Run book club via text, iMessage, WhatsApp, Google Chat, AOL Messenger if you’ve hopped in your time machine (side note: if you run into 2001 me, tell her to ditch the loser boyfriend and stop over-plucking her eyebrows). Pick the messaging platform that works best for you and then agree on a time when everyone has at least 30 minutes to chat. Simple, and technically doable from just about anywhere with reliable wifi or cell reception.
Call Me, Maybe – Set up a multi-way call, whether with just voice or video is entirely up to you. Personally, I love video calls (FaceTime, WhatsApp, Skype, etc) so I can see everyone’s facial expressions along with the lively discussion. My tip here depending on the time of day you chat is to create a whole vibe by having food and wine, coffee, tea, champagne, etc “together.” Of course, if a voice call is all you can manage, that’s perfectly fine as well. Pants are optional for both, so that’s a win.
The Odd One Out Is Still In – Of course, now that I’ve moved to Portland, all of the ladies in my book club have moved back to the general LA area. I’m the only real long distance member left, although in LA it can take as long to get from one zip code to another as it would take for me to fly in… Anywho! While all of them will likely pick a place to physically meet up, I refuse to miss out on our discussion of Kiley Reid’s Such a Fun Age. Remember that you too can insist that your friends set you up on a phone or iPad and participate virtually through the wonders of modern technology. They’d better not turn my volume down is all I’m saying.
A young man founded a book club when he was just ten years old (Books N Bros, amazing!), so he could talk to other boys about books. The club has grown to include over 250 “bros” and celebrates Black culture and African American lit. It’s no wonder he’s been turned into a Marvel Superhero!
Such a Fun Age is Buzzfeed’s February book club pick. Good job, Buzzfeed! That’s a good one.
Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your burning book club questions or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the Audiobooks newsletter, get it on the Read Harder podcast, and watch me booktube every Tuesday and Friday too.
Stay bad & bookish, my friends.