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Joseph O’Connor’s Guide to starting a book club

We have a wonderful stage adaptation of Joseph O’Connor’s Star of the Sea coming up in November and feel that it would be terrific opportunity for a night out for book club members. So if you haven’t already decided what your November book is going to be, why not consider picking Star of the Sea?

Already a popular choice with book clubs, Joseph O’Connor has created his own guide to Star of the Sea especially for reading groups which can be downloaded from his website here

Moonfish Theatre's Star of the Sea is freely adapted (with the author's blessing) from Joseph O'Connor's acclaimed novel.

Moonfish Theatre’s Star of the Sea is freely adapted (with the author’s blessing) from Joseph O’Connor’s acclaimed novel.

But what if you’re not in a book club?

To find a book club near you visit the Donegal Country Library as they facilitate and support a number of Book Clubs around the County including those hosted and run by the library as well as those held outside the library. See their website for further info.

Start your own?

If you want to get proactive and start your own book club check out these handy tips from Joseph O’Connor:

THE PEOPLE

  • Decide how many people you would ideally like in your group. Less than 5 can be a bit small but more than 15 is a bit too large.
  • Ask your local library, college or bookshop to put up an ad for you on their notice board.
  • Spread the word amongst friends – get word-of-mouth going about the group.
  • Hopefully you’ll end up with a diverse group of people which will make discussions all the more interesting.

THE LOCATION

  • Libraries, colleges and bookshops are a great help as they may have a room where you can hold meetings.
  • You may prefer to meet in more relaxed environments such as a separate room in a pub or restaurant or even in members’ homes – alternating for each meeting so everyone has an opportunity to host.

THE MEETING

  • Decide how often you would like to meet – most groups tend to meet once a month giving everyone plenty of opportunity to read the chosen book.
  • Try and meet on the same day each time. This will give the group continuity, the meeting priority and will make it easier for people to keep it free and attend regularly.
  • Decide how long you would like the meetings to last – but be flexible in the course of each meeting.

THE BOOKS

  • Everyone in the group is going to have slightly different tastes in books so try and choose a real cross-section of authors and genres so that all tastes are covered and you all get to try different writing.
  • Decide how you are going to select what books are to be discussed – a rota system or drawing suggestions from a hat are a couple of commonly used systems.
  • Look to your local bookshop for suggestions through staff recommends and promotions such as fresh talent and book of the month.
  • Write to publishers and ask for their new title catalogues to get a head start on up and coming new titles.
  • Don’t forget to scour the shelves for older more established classics that you may not have read but have always meant to.
  • Think about whether every few meetings you’d like to have a themed evening, such as crime, or Booker prizewinners and choose two or three books to compare.

THE DISCUSSION

  • Discuss what everyone wants from the meetings – everyone’s expectations for the groups need to be fulfilled as much as possible.
  • Think about having a different facilitator at each meeting. Their role could be to present the book with a little background information on the author and book, this can help set the scene for the discussion to come.
  • Have some discussion points ready to get things going. A little structure at the start can be beneficial.
  • Try to avoid letting one voice dominate proceedings, this can be intimidating to other group members and hinder discussion.
  • Be aware as to when the discussion is getting bogged down and needs to be moved on.

GET GOING

Remember being a member of a reading group is meant to be fun and will enhance your reading – enjoy yourself.

Source: http://www.josephoconnorauthor.com/for-book-clubs-star-of-the-sea.html

Blending language, song, movement and imagery, this exciting and inventive production by award-winning Moonfish Theatre brings Joseph O’Connor’s epic novel to the stage as part of their national tour. Set in 1847, Star of the Sea is a famine-ship sailing to New York. Among the passengers are those with secrets to hide – a silent maidservant, a ruined landlord, and an infamous murderer.

Moonfish Theatre present their adaptation of Star of the Sea on Tues 21 November. Tickets are €18/€15 but if you are coming as part of a group please contact Daithi or Nicola at the box office on 0749120777 to avail of a generous discount. We’d love to hear from you!