I’m thinking of starting an Irish-themed book club. Anyone interested?

book-clubThis blog has been going just three months or so now, and the growth in visitor numbers has been slight but steady (the discerning or the grumpy might suggest my posts could be similarly summed up).

Over the past week or so I’ve had some small but not-to-be-sniffed-at traffic spikes as a result of Twitter pointers from the likes of writer and broadcaster Sean Moncrieff, columnist and author (not to mention lots of other stuff) Martina Devlin and quality independent publisher Salt Publishing in the UK.

So in a bid to strike while the iron is lukewarm, I’m thinking of adding a layer of interactivity to the whole thing.

A large part of my reasons for starting this blog was that I was interested in reading Irish books – for the purposes of these pages I’ve stuck for the most part to so-called “literary” fiction, short stories and the odd slice of poetry, and events, publications and periodicals concerning those areas. (I have the height of respect for all those ploughing a furrow in theatre, film or non-fiction, but reading time is finite and I just don’t get read or experience enough of those to warrant their inclusion in this blog.)

I figure there are many others out there similarly disposed, who might be willing to try out an online book club to get stuck into a particular Irish book (from past or present), and chat about it once a month.

The plan, as far as it goes (and it goes about as far as this blog post), is:

–          to choose books (novels, short story collections, poetry) that are either written by an Irish author or authors, or published by an Irish publisher

–          to make selections that should not be too difficult for people to find in their local bookstore, if they’re lucky enough still to have a local bookstore. If needs must, you could purchase on A***** or download to K*****, but as a conservationist of the dying species of bookstores I won’t be condoning that sort of thing 🙂

–          to select books in rotation by bookclub member, and two months in advance wherever possible, in order to allow for time to find a copy of a particular book, busy schedules, postage delivery times or slow readers. (If you’re like me, a combination of several of the above…)

–          to have a sort of quota system of approximately 6-8 novels, 3-4 short story collections and 1-2 poetry collections per year, although this by its very nature this will no doubt be fluid and open to lively discussion. I wouldn’t have it any other way

–          to set aside two hours a month (I suggest the last Monday of each month) to chat about it

–          to have the discussion via Google+ Hangout. If you’ve managed Skype, a Hangout should be fine. Indeed, Google’s virtual meeting tool might be just about the perfect environment for online bookclubs

–          and finally, if things were to go really well we could organise a social meetup once a year. Or possibly every six months if there’s an appetite for it. There would be a wine or a beer, or two or more of each, if I’ve anything to do with it.

So that’s the vision. If you’d like to take part, and I hope you do, leave a comment below or send me an email at shane.breslin@gmail.com.

In the language of old-style Irish committeeeeees, we’ll need a quorum to get started. Three is possibly enough to get us going and hopefully it will build from there. If things go really well we might hit the Google+ Hangout limit of 10, but we won’t worry about that just yet…

Feel free also, if you’re dropping me a line, to make an initial suggestion for Book Number 1. So what are my chances of getting things up and running for February?

I’d be overjoyed if you could spread the word, and I look forward to hearing from you.

Shane

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8 thoughts on “I’m thinking of starting an Irish-themed book club. Anyone interested?

    1. Many thanks Gerard. I’ve had one or two declarations of interest. I’ll try to update and move things along later in the week; it would be great to get a February book selected by Friday, and provisionally pencil in Monday, Feb 25th for our first discussion.

      I love the Twitter feed, by the way. For anyone reading this who doesn’t follow Gerard’s Irish Literary Times on Twitter, you can do so here.

    1. Great, Emily. I think we’re now past our quorum. (I erroneously called it a quota in my original post…). Would be great to get one or two more – feel free to share to your bookish social channels!

      Started the blog late last year, trying manfully to keep it as current as possible.

      Chat soon,
      Shane

  1. Hi Nuala,

    I suppose I was trying to add to the immediacy of it by trying a Hangout. I’m nothing if not democratic, though, so I will gladly consider alternative options if people are interested in that.

    It would be great to have you on board…

    Shane

    1. Hi Eve,

      It would be great to have you along. If Nuala joins us – and one or two others have mentioned that they’d prefer a commenting/live chat type facility rather than Hangout – then that will be five. That’s more than enough to get a discussion going.

      Also, I’m happy to shelve the Hangout idea for now – if only because it means I can postpone the purchase of a decent webcam and mic.

      It has been suggested that The China Factory by Mary Costello might be a good place to start, and I’m in favour. I’ll provide an update by email on Friday to those who have expressed an interest, and I’ll get a blog up there too. I guess it’s an announcement, of sorts.

      Thanks again Eve, and I promise to keep the chick lit for my other blog, chicklitheaven.wordpress.com.

      Shane

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