Choosing Book Club Titles for 2016

Book Club Post

Hello! I’m so sorry I disappeared there in December. The holidays and my trip to Colorado seemed to come upon me sooner than I expected and I didn’t write the holiday posts that I had planned – I suppose there’s always next year – onward to 2016!

My book club is going into its 4th year of existence (our anniversary is in March) and I decided that this year we needed to find a new way to choose our books. The first year we voted every month on a list of titles that I compiled, the second year I chose all the books for the year in advance, and last year we took turns choosing titles every month. This year I wanted the process to be a bit less…contentious. Perhaps that’s not the right word – anonymous is probably better. All the members of my book club are lovely people, but there have been instances of dissatisfaction, irritation and disagreement from time to time with the books we choose and the process that we’ve used to choose them. So this year I did something a little bit different.

Back in November I used Survey Monkey to solicit 3 suggestions from each member. Since we decided to focus on classics this year all suggestions needed to be published before 1970. Once I had the suggestions I compiled them and sent out another Survey Monkey link to where everyone could vote for their top choices. Everything was completely anonymous. We only chose for the first six months because I wanted to make sure this worked and I thought trying to choose 12 books might be overwhelming for our first time with this new process. After all the votes came in I made a list of the 6 books that got the most votes and those are the titles that we’re reading from now until June. What did we choose? Here are our selections:

January – Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

February – My Antonia by Willa Cather

March – The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte

April – Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

May – The Picnic at Hanging Rock by Joan Lindsay

June – Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini

I think this was a successful way to choose our books and that we all enjoyed the voting process and finding out which books got the most votes. Though I administered it all I was just as surprised by the selections as anyone else was. I think we have a good variety of books and I look forward to reading all of them. This method will definitely reduce the level of indecision about what to choose and the small disagreements or resentments that happened sometimes in previous years.

Have you read any of these titles? How does your book club choose books?

21 thoughts on “Choosing Book Club Titles for 2016

  1. I love Cranford! and haven’t read the others. I think if I were in your book club I’d be very happy with this list!


    1. I hope the members of my group will be happy too! I got the sense that they were all pretty positive about our choices this year – we’ll see how it goes. I’m listening to Cranford right now and it is fantastic – I think I’m enjoying it better as an audio than actually reading it!


  2. One of my book groups meets in the early fall with suggestions, and somehow a schedule gets worked out – I’ve only been at one of those meetings, and I was impressed how easily it all fell into place. The other one is month-to-month – we’re all assigned a month, and when we meet to discuss the current book, whoever’s up next is supposed to announce her book for the coming month. That doesn’t always give enough time to find the book, especially if it’s a popular one with long lines at the library (I’ve learned not to buy book-group books).

    I like your system – if it wasn’t too much work for you?


    1. Oh yes, I know about choosing popular books – we’ve actually had to switch titles mid-month because titles were scarce at area libraries.
      It wasn’t much work at all! Survey Monkey is so easy to use so all I had to do was create the survey and email the link. Then I just counted up the votes – we only have 7 members so that didn’t take long. And it was all worth it to prevent discord.


  3. I’ve read and enjoyed the first three. I wouldn’t be interested in the C.S.Lewis book, but would read May and June. It sounds like a good way of choosing books.


      1. No, I won’t be reading that C.S. Lewis one! I have read – out loud ALL of the Narnia books, to a small son who was well able to read them for himself, but loved being read to. The things mums do!


  4. I think that’s an excellent system — I think it’s better than the one I used! From your list, I’ve read the first three, and my favorite was My Antonia — I love Cranford but I secretly like the TV adaptation better than the book — I find the book meanders a little (and the TV series actually includes different Cranford stories written by Gaskell, which surprised most people). But I think you have a really good mix of titles. I do want to read Scaramouche someday so I look forward to reading your review.


    1. Cranford is slow-going for me, I’m afraid. I started reading it and had to switch to the audio in hopes that it would be more interesting – and thankfully it is.
      I think anonymous voting is good for choosing lots of things, so why not use it to choose book club titles? Then no one has to feel guilty or shamed when the book bombs with the group. 😉


  5. Excellent book-choosing system! My book club used to have a system where the person who hated the most recent book the most got to choose for next time. That person would choose three books, and everyone would email them to vote for ONE of the three books, and whichever book got the most votes was the one we’d go with. It was a good system. Nobody could ever feel hard-done-by in the book selection, because it was always a vote.


    1. I like that system, but it would so not work for my group! We have one member who usually hates everything we read – and I don’t want her picking the books every month. Haha!


  6. That sounds like a good system and it has given you a great variety of books. I would be interested to hear what you think of Scaramouche as I love Rafael Sabatini and that is my favourite of his books. I really enjoyed Cranford, My Antonia and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall too. Happy reading – and I hope your group has some great discussions!


    1. Thanks, Helen! I was hesitant about Scaramouche, but it sounds like lots of people enjoyed it so now I am feeling pretty good about reading it. I’ll definitely post my thoughts in June.


  7. That’s a great list, a mix of stereotypical classic and not so. Voting sounds a good idea, letting everyone have a say and you’ll know that it’s the majority opinion which should help with any unease. I’ve read Lewis and Gaskell but not those books. I hope to read Cranford soon, though.


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