After church Mel and I would sit around and just talk about everything. But our conversations were always centered on books; the ones we read those we wanted to buy and some we’ve collected. After several chats we realized we enjoyed many of the same authors and genre, except Mel is a huge fan of mystery while I have an affinity for inspirational reads. One Sunday after church Mel said she was starting a book club and I told her to count me in. We had our first official meeting October 8th, 2006, and at that time we were called “Fat Gurrl Book Club” affectionately named after Mel’s business.
After a few months I told a few friends and I told more friends and so on and so on. Then in August as a book club we went to the “Soul Expression Tour “and met someone who practically joined that day. Rewind just a little bit; in April 2007 we were four strong and decided to change the name to reflect all members of the book club and we took a vote and came up with “Reader’s Paradise”. The name came from us truly escaping into that book and it becoming our paradise until the last page. Fast forward beyond August 2008 currently Reader’s Paradise has 7 members; 4 of which are active.
Each member take turns hosting our BOM discussions; the host plans the food, theme, discussion and location, and as a group we vote on the book of the month. We meet on a monthly basis preferably the last Saturday of the month. During the holidays we prefer to meet the week before.
When I invited you on the blog, part of your response included, “…we are small but we’re here.” Chicago is a big city, tell me why you remain small? Every year I create a survey and ask all active members to complete it. Each year when the results are returned the majority says “I rather keep it 10 and no more”. We enjoy the intimacy of a small group and blessing other book clubs with our presence. In October this year we had our second year celebration at a café in the Hype Park section of Chicago and invited another book club to join us named Kreative Readers and we had a blast! We also invited 2 Chicago authors D.J. McLaurin and Phylydia Hudson. We shared a meal, our thoughts, and some personal things about us. One of the benefits of keeping it small is space, all of us have small homes so trying to host a BOM at home works. (smile) We recently opened our membership to serious readers in the Chicagoland area. But we will keep the number under 10. Prior to joining the member will have to attend 4 meetings and be able to meet on Saturdays for 2-3 hours for the discussions. The prospective member must also have email, and check it daily much of our communications are done online.
Tell me about a Christian or inspirational book your group recently read and enjoyed and what you liked about it. I would have to say “Conversations with God”: a true story by Neale Walsch. We watched the DVD and was truly inspired by it. Sometimes many of us walk around wondering is God speaking to us if He is why can’t I hear Him, How is it that she can hear Him and I can’t. Mr. Walsch believes that communicating with God could be a feeling, or those voices you hear while asleep, and that in fact it is audible. We just have to fine tune our receivers, absolutely a spiritual reawakening.
Anything you’d like to see more of in Christian Fiction? Less of? I’d like to see fewer stories about characters losing faith and more of Christians dealing with life and the struggles. How we call on the Lord and journey with one another while trying to live righteous.
While reading I keep a note pad with me at all times. I jot down things I think I might want to add to my review, locations, events, characters words and my feelings. I also look within the book to find out if the author tells us what he or she is attempting to do with the book. If it is listed I will mention whether I felt the author succeeded or not.
Does Reader’s Paradise have any special plans or goals for 2009? 2009 we’ll be planning our annual retreat for 2010; also we are partnering with a ministry in the Chicagoland area to do some Outreach and mentoring. I’m very excited about this because I have always wanted us to be more than a book club. In the last 2 years we have grown and our circle continues to grown closer and I am grateful to God for each and every member and what they add to Reader’s Paradise.
Anything else you want to share about your book club? I would like to say Reader’s Paradise is a fantastic book club and the nucleus of our group is our Lord & Saviour. I don’t think a business can flourish unless you go through some things and it is then that you know what you KNOW! Stay in His grip ladies of Reader’s Paradise!
How can readers and authors find out more about Reader’s Paradise? If you are interested in more information about Reader’s Paradise you can stop by my inbox anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit use 24/7 at www.myspace.com/readersparadise
Great Interview, Missy. Thanks for stopping by!