In these unusual times many of us are finding ourselves at home a lot more. Whether we’re compelled by the government, just out of places to go, or are volunteering our isolation to protect the vulnerable, we’re all a bit stuck. If you’re not working from home or homeschooling kids (or you are, but need some non-work or kid-related interaction for your sanity), you’re probably looking for something to do. Why not start a book club?
We’ve had great success with our kits being used as virtual book clubs, but awesome as they are, you can do this without our materials, too. We’ll walk you through setting up a virtual book club for your own group. Following these instructions, you’ll see how easy it is to run a club that allows everyone to participate at their leisure and gives you all something to look forward to checking on social media besides the latest virus or shelter in place memes.
1. Pick a book
You probably have a good idea what some of your friends might like to read or re-read. Our kits focus on self-improvement books, but you could pick anything! An old classic or new bestseller, as long as you and a few friends are willing to chat about it, it’s a winner.
2. Make a group
Form a secret group on Facebook. Throw a cute picture of the book you’ll be reading into the banner, and invite all your friends. Anyone who has the energy to participate and willingness to read the book you’ve chosen can accept your invite and find themselves a copy. Many libraries are closing down, but others are offering curbside pickup, and any that offer online resources (like Overdrive/Libby, RBDigital and more) still have those available. Even if you can’t leave your house, chances are good everyone can get their own copy of the book.
3. Brainstorm questions & find content
As the discussion leader, you’ve already selected the book your group will read. Read ahead of everyone else to find topics and themes that tie in. Scan the internet for relevant blogs, articles, and memes. Also, ponder some questions the group could enjoy discussing.
If you’re using one of our big kits, send the Members Only guides in printed booklet or virtual PDF to your members so they can ponder more personal questions as they read the book. They’re beautiful in print or on tablets!
4. Ask (and answer) questions
Ask the group your discussion questions! The best way to do this is to post each question as its own status, or even make it into an attractive graphic that’s easy to spot. Then, everyone can comment with their answers below when they get a chance. The “reply” feature in Facebook’s comment section essentially turns any post into a forum for that single question. It’s surprisingly organized!
Speaking of organized, a good strategy is to schedule your questions and other content ahead of time. This way you can spread it out over several days to keep things fresh for the group, and you won’t forget to post on a day that’s especially demanding. Don’t forget to answer your questions! You don’t have to be the first one to offer an answer every time, but have a response or another way of wording the question at the ready. If you want the feel of an in-person book club, consider using a video call service like Zoom.
If you’re using one of our big or mini kits, you don’t have to brainstorm unique questions! Just post the questions we provide and join the conversation.
5. Repeat with another book!
Finally, when the group has had its fun, consider choosing another title together. Even when you can all see each other in person again. This might be your new favorite way of running a book club, or a temporary measure to stave off boredom and cabin fever. Either way, we hope you’ll give it a try!
Free Book Club Kit!
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Expecting Better, by Emily Oster
It’s been a while since Ariel and I came across a parenting book that we just had to read. When we heard the premise of Expecting Better, by Emily Oster, we knew it bore checking out.
Emily Oster is an economist (as is her husband). In a nutshell, what economists are pros at is analyzing information, evaluating the quality, and synthesizing it into reports to help people in key positions make decisions. In Expecting Better, Oster aims to use her economist skills to breakdown the data around the most common, thorny issues encountered in pregnancy, to help you decide what's best for your family.
Some of the topics tackled include the risks around foods (caffeine, alcohol, lunch meat, sushi), medicines (birth control, pain killers, antidepressants), and exercise. Oster also details risks of and protocols around genetic testing, common pregnancy conditions (such as pre-eclampsia and gestational diabetes), bedrest, and the options available during birth.
In which Brianna and Ariel discuss Neil Pasricha's upcoming book, You Are Awesome. Who is this man, what is his book about, and when is it available? We received advance copies of this book so that we could give it our honest review. This post contains affiliate links.
You Are Awesome, by Neil Pasricha
Summary & Review:
Hello, dear readers! It has been a while since our last book review because we have been busy making book club kits. However, we’ve missed sharing our thoughts on helpful books with you and with each other. There’s a long, long list of all the books we want to review or that friends have asked for our take on. We were excited to take on this book because we were fortunate enough to get early access to it. So what is this book? It’s called You Are Awesome, by Neil Pasricha.
Neil Pasricha is the best-selling author of six previous books, as well as the creator of (at least) six failed websites. He’s also the son of two very wise and patient parents, whom I’d love to meet. In his book, which is an interesting blend of autobiography and life advice, Pasricha explains how he went from working the careers he was “supposed” to want, to finding his own path to success, happiness, and resilience.
What's in a book club?
If you’re using our book club kits, the answer is “questions.”
As group members read through the selected book, our reading guides ask them a variety of questions. Questions to startle, questions to remind, and questions to explore. We come at the text from different angles, so the questions aren’t boring or a mere reading comprehension quiz. What would be the fun in that? By answering our engaging questions while reading the book, club members will come to the meeting ready to share real insights. Awesome!
Even better? The discussion leaders have a different set of questions. Their discussion questions are in the same vein as those in the members’ reading guides but aren’t too similar. We love spontaneity and preparation in equal measure, and we believe that having coordinating (but not identical) questions will leave everyone feeling prepared but unrehearsed. How can you bond over genuine sharing when you filter out all the real stuff before the group has even assembled? Answer: you can’t. By keeping the discussion questions separate from the reading questions, we’ve left you with a safe amount of the element of surprise.
If you use our book club kits, what don’t you have to do? You don’t have to come up with insightful discussions questions. Gone are the days when you had to scour the internet and print out three lists of the same questions, only worded slightly differently. What else don’t you have to do? You don’t have to buy into the author or publisher’s premise. When you use the questions in the back of the book, you’re using materials that assume you agree with the author and their instructions for your life. Our questions assume a certain amount of receptiveness to the author’s message, but they also probe for areas where you may disagree with a book’s content. Because not every paradigm is right for every person, and we know that. Don’t be afraid to engage with the text- we sure aren’t!
What's in a book club?
In our book clubs, we have journal prompts.
People love journal prompts, and we find that journaling about self-improvement books really helps one synthesize and evaluate their message. With this in mind, we sprinkled journal prompts throughout our reading guides, for both the discussion leader and the group members.
To be clear: you do not have to share your journaling with the group. The discussion questions never ask you to share your journals, though in a particularly intimate group you may end up sharing anyway. But we ask some pretty personal, self-exploratory questions to get you really thinking about how you’re engaging with the text at hand.
Want examples? Here’s the ballpark:
What isn’t up to you? Coming up with thought-provoking journal prompts! Honestly, all book clubs should have a journaling component. By using our kits, you’re ensuring that your whole group is getting a fuller book club experience than any other. It’s ok to be pleased with yourself; we are, too.
What's in a book club?
One answer to this question, in our book club kits, is modules.
OH my bus, that is not an exciting word, “modules.” But the modules themselves are exciting. They’re what give our book clubs flexibility and thoroughness.
Most book clubs meet once a month to talk about 400-1000 pages. Unless you’re a great note-taker or have an amazing memory (hello, Mom Brain), there’s no way you remember the rich details from the beginning of the book by the end of the month.
Our modules solve that problem. Most of our kits break the book at hand into four modules. You can then meet as frequently as you like to discuss the chapters in each module. Some groups could increase their meetings to being weekly (yay, friendship!), while others could keep meeting monthly but have more in-depth talks and give people more time to prepare (yay, prep time!). The first club using one of our kits is meeting every-other-week. It’s up to you!
What isn’t up to you? You don’t have to break up the book into chapter groupings that make sense. We already did that for you. You don’t have to come up with insightful questions for group members to answer while they’re reading. We already thought of those. Nor do you have to concoct gripping, conversation-starting prompts for your meetings. We did that, too. See? Modules mean flexibility, and flexibility is awesome. Ipso facto, modules are awesome. Order one of our kits and see for yourself the magic of our modules.
Hello, dear readers!
Ariel and I have been blogging here on BusyNestNews.com for a year now (wow, that went by fast!) and we have big news! Are you ready?
We’re going to be selling book club kits! Beautiful, adaptable, personal book club kits.
You are probably most familiar with book clubs taking the shape of a once-a-month meeting to discuss some work of literary fiction that a celebrity or publisher told you was going to be huge this year. But what actually happens for many of us is that we’re too busy/tired/uninterested to really read the book (my toddler doesn’t know what a Pulitzer Prize is, sorry book club!), and so the meeting quickly dissolves into an excuse for an informal cocktail party. Why don’t we start giving wine o’clock the time it deserves and the books that challenge us the time they deserve? Socializing and relaxing are important for everyone (I know we’re big fans!), and so is diving into ideas that push us to grow wiser and happier. So what about those of us that actually want to read a book and talk it over with friends?
Ariel and I love a bit of fiction, but after becoming parents we really got on a nonfiction and self-improvement kick that sees no end in sight. If you want a better marriage, happier you, or (possibly) happier, healthier kids that the neighbors likely don’t hate, we’re here to help! We have developed gorgeous reading guides for both the discussion leader and club members. These kits will get everyone ready for the discussion while prioritizing self-exploration and personal growth. We make getting smarter and socializing easier and more fun than ever.
So that’s what we do now! We’re still going to publish articles on topics we’re passionate about on our blog, but very soon you’ll be able to buy entire, incredible book club kits to help you run the most amazing, insightful book club ever. We can’t wait to show you what we’ve got. We’re sure you’re going to love it!
Here at Busy Nest News, we try to be ready for anything. We're always thinking about contingencies and emergencies. Not in a stressed out, paranoid way (most of the time), but in a "challenge accepted!" kind of way. When disaster strikes, we want to win. That sounds a little nuts, but we've seen too many disasters (small and large) to let ourselves off the hook. This month, we're going to share some of our favorite ways to always be prepared.
In Case of Emergency (ICE)
Brianna and Ariel love to read all year, but there's something special about summer reading. This article is part two of a series about books that are perfect for summer. Using our affiliate links to purchase these books will help keep Busy Nest News going. Thanks for your continued support!
Book Review: Learning to Breath Fire by J.C. Herz
Welcome to Summer Reading! We know that summer can be a very busy season for families, but every bibliophile does their best to squeeze in a little reading time while the weather is warm. Perhaps you’re at the beach, traveling, lounging on a blanket or hammock, or it’s just nap time and so you grabbed the baby monitor and snuck out onto the porch with a big hat and a cold drink.
Brianna and Ariel love to read all year, but there's something special about summer reading. This article is part three of a series about books that are perfect for summer. Using our affiliate links to purchase these books will help keep Busy Nest News going. Thanks for your continued support!
Sometimes you find an author whose works you enjoy so much that you automatically buy whatever their latest book is, as soon as it’s announced. In fact, you pre-order. I tried to pick my favorite Sophie Kinsella book, and pretty soon I had six! You might know this author for her Shopaholic or Undomestic Goddess series, but it’s her collection of stand alone novels that I can’t get enough of! I made myself pick two. If you haven’t checked out her latest yet, run, don’t walk to get them. Both of these books pair well with a towel or plane flight in paperback form, but their audiobooks are sooo great, too. Fiona Hardingham reads both, but always does an excellent job of portraying a variety of characters with a multitude of personalities and accents. You’ll think your sweetest, most optimistic best friend is telling you about her bizarre troubles, only laughing out loud won’t hurt her feelings.
Ariel and Brianna are friends who met while working in a library. Now they collaborate to develop life-enhancing book club experiences.
Let's keep in touch!