That is what my sister Viktoria and our friend Dolinde decided to call the bookclub they started last year; International Jane Austen Book Club. I don’t quite remember how the idea got started, but I believe Viktoria and Dolinde had been discussing the books and then started talking about doing a club to get more people into the discussion. I was invited to join (of course, my sister could not very well start a book club about Jane Austen and then not invite me! :P) and we also asked a few other friends to join in. It was never meant to be big I think, just a few friends discussing good books together.
None of us had ever done a book club before, we didn’t quite know how they are ‘meant’ to be. But a way this book club differs from “normal” ones is that seeing as it was international and we had participants from different countries we have to do it online. Using that wonderful Swedish (yes I do need to point that out!) invention: Skype. Thanks to Skype we are able to do group calls and talk, chat and even for the last few months, see each other. Much as I love historicand old-fashioned things I cannot pretend that I don’t love modern technology too! It’s brilliant!
The plan in the beginning was just to do the 6 Jane Austen novels. We did one each month for half a year, and had a meeting every month. However by the time we had done all Jane Austen’s books, including an extra month for all her early and unfinished work, no one wanted to stop. So this book club has now become one with no ending in sight. After doing all the Jane Austen ones we moved on to Elizabeth Gaskell, and from there Jane Eyre and so on, and so on.
This all sounds very impressive and ambitious. That we all of us read one classic a month and then have a meeting talking about it. But the truth is, we don’t really… The books are (usually) books that all of us have already read, so even though we have said that we should read them before the meeting, mostly we don’t. And as for the meetings themselves, well let’s just say we are very good at getting distracted from the subject… 😛 It’s more like we have a theme for the meeting. The book is the theme, and so we talk some about that, and then we get distracted and talk about something else, and then we return to the book for a while, and then we get distracted again… It’s actually lots of fun! I admit in the beginning it frustrated me a bit, I was expecting us to just be talking about the book and focus on that, but that has never worked. And once I accepted that fact it’s just been great fun getting together with frinends for a few hours (yeah, our meetings usually last somewhere around 4 hours or so) and having a laugh (and also talk about good books!).
The participants have varied slightly, some join in once in a while whilst others join in every time. The tricky part is usually finding a time that works for everyone. Seeing as we are in different parts of the world and consequently in different time-zones it can be a bit of a puzzel fitting it all together. The time we had someone from Australia, Europe and the US was trickiest! But that too worked. 🙂
It’s been good doing this over the last year, I’m glad Viktoria and Dolinde decided to go ahead and start it. I thought I’d share about it on here, maybe there are others who’d be interested in doing something similar. I know a lot of people feel they haven’t got anyone around to talk about their favorite books with, and this way they don’t have to be “around”. They can be in a completely different part of the world!
So now our plan is that next month at least 5 of us in the book club will get together and have a “real” meeting, face to face, in Bath. That’ll be fun! 😀