HOW TO CREATE A LIFELONG BOOK CLUB IN SEVEN EASY (WELL, NOT ALWAYS SO EASY) STEPS by Chris Rylander
As a writer, you get to be in charge.
You decide a character’s name. What they look like. Are they liars? Do they swear a lot? Are they good or bad or somewhere in between? You get to decide what happens to those characters. You get to choose the words that make a story.
This goes for books and blog posts.
Which is why, today, I’m taking us on a side quest. Sure, I could write about a theme central to my newest middle grade book, The Hurricanes of Weakerville, and then deftly tie it all back together in the end. I could write about my how my main character, Alex Weakerman, the socially awkward seventh-grade baseball nerd is named the manager a real life semi-pro baseball team full of mis-fits, coulda-beens, and never-weres. About how he faces the challenges of Flumpo, the cause of his many social miscues, Tex Cohaagen, the team’s zany and colorful new owner, or the prospect of getting a team that has stunk for over a decade back to the playoffs.
But I’m not going to do that.
Instead, I’m going to write about book clubs.
I worked on Hurricanes for over six years. During that time, my book club read 68 different books with perfect attendance at every meeting. In fact, I even named a character in Hurricanes after each person in my book club. An honor they will list at the top of their resumes for the rest of their lives, no doubt.
But back to this perfect attendance for 68 books thing. How can such an insane feat be accomplished, you ask?
Well, I’ll tell you. Here, in this blog post (which is happening right now!) and is called:
HOW TO CREATE A LIFELONG BOOK CLUB IN SEVEN EASY (WELL, NOT ALWAYS SO EASY) STEPS
STEP #1: Gather up some people (friends optional).
Not too many, though, unless you want your book club meetings to be six hours of chaos. Five to eight people feels like a right amount. It helps if some like to read, but it’s not totally necessary. One of the joys of a good book club is watching non-readers turn into readers right before your eyes. Plus, if you get a few non-readers, you get to make up references to other books that don’t even exist, and they’ll never know it! Like the time I said our book pick one month, The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, reminded me of this other book I read called Lord Cheeseburger Eats a Hot Dog: And Ninety-Four Other Disastrous Occurrences at Barnaby Barnacle’s Barnburning Barnacle Burn-Off, by the infamous and reclusive author Sambuck Bucksam.
STEP #2: Read only “unread” books.
Take turns picking books, with just one rule for each selection: NOBODY, not even the person who picked it, can have read the book (or even seen a movie/TV adaptation) before. This will broaden everyone’s horizons and keep that one annoying member from picking their childhood favorite, The Very Hungary Caterpillar, over and over again.
STEP #3: It’s not all about reading.
Keep things fun and creative. For instance, we have a ratings system we use to rate the book at the end of each meeting. The system changes every year and gets to be picked by the winner of some sort of side contest. One year it was a huge video game tournament we had at a local arcade. Another year it was the winner of the Book Club fantasy football league. We also have fun side rules involving what we drink and eat at book club meetings. The point is: book clubs are supposed to be fun, so make sure it is!
STEP #4: Everything counts as literature.
Don’t limit things to just novels. We allow comic books, graphic novels, religious texts, non-fiction, informational pamphlets, literally any sort of published written word can be a book club pick.
STEP #5: Pick a date!
We pick our dates well in advance and are sure to pick only a date/time that works for everyone. But once the date is set, it should be a top priority… on equal measure with your own wedding, or perhaps even your own funeral! Would you ever miss your own funeral? Is that even possible?!?! Exactly.
STEP #6: RULES ARE RULES ARE RULES.
The most important step/rule of all is no joking matter. In fact, some say it’s unreasonable. Mean. Even cruel. People gasp when they hear this rule. But it is perhaps the most vital part of a successful book club: If a member ever misses a meeting or doesn’t read the book (and there is not a serious illness or death in their family) then they are BANNED FOR LIFE from book club. And we mean it. Thankfully, we’ve never had to enact this rule for a standing member, probably in large part because of the rule itself. It’s like a reverse Catch-22. Is that thing? A 22-Drop? Anyway, moving on.
STEP #7: Last but not least… your first book pick!
For your new book club’s first selection, choose The Hurricanes of Weakerville by Chris Rylander. This puppy has everything. Humor, heart, baseball, jokes, lasers, aliens, ghosts that haunt hot dogs and hot dogs that haunt ghosts, talking dogs, and even a guy who wrestles three bears at once. You don’t want to miss it.
So that’s it!
You now have the ability and knowledge needed to start your own successful book club. (And, no, you can’t just join mine.) My book club is one the regular activities in my life I look forward to most.
It’s like that famous, ancient saying by that one person goes, “Everyone needs a good book club.”
So, what are you waiting for?
About The Hurricanes of Weakerville
Middle grade star author Chris Rylander brings his signature sense of humor, a compelling and original baseball story, and tons of heart to the story of the Hurricanes of Weakerville.
All his life, Alex Weakerman has had one passion: baseball. Specifically, the Hurricanes of Weakerville, Iowa—the scrappy independent-league team owned by his Grandpa Ira.
Even as team and the town have fallen on tough times, there’s no place Alex would rather be than at the ballpark—a hot dog in one hand, a pencil and scorebook in the other, keeping track of each and every statistic. Alex has never been all that great at playing baseball, but that doesn’t matter. For someone as painfully awkward as Alex, being a fan—and a wiz with baseball stats—is all he needs.
When Grandpa Ira passes away, though, Alex is crushed. He’s lost his best friend, and he doesn’t see any way that the team will survive. But Ira, it seems, has one last trick up his sleeve: his will names Alex the new manager of the Hurricanes.
Alex is as excited as he is terrified at the chance to finally put some of his fantasy baseball genius to use. But as he sets to work trying to win over the players, he soon learns that leading them to victory is about more than just stats. Will he be able to save his team, his hometown, and his family legacy?
From the author of The Fourth Stall, a SCBWI Sid Fleischman Humor Award winner and multiple state-award favorite, The Hurricanes of Weakerville is sure to appeal to middle grade readers looking for a funny book abut real kids.
Chris Rylander is the author of the acclaimed and bestselling “Fourth Stall” saga, the “Codename Conspiracy” trilogy, and co-author of book three in the New York Times bestselling “House of Secrets” series. He lives in Chicago, where he eats a lot of raspberry jam and frequently tries to befriend the squirrels on his block.
Publishing June 28, 2022!
The Hurricanes of Weakerville Blog Tour
6/21 Nerdy Book Club @nerdybookclub
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