Murder, They Read: Running Your Own Book Club

Large Inline Murder They Read
Radical Ging share their monthly Christie reading with fans via Instagram and their blog

We asked Radical Ging, hosts of their own virtual Agatha Christie book club, for their top tips about running a successful book group

Being involved with books - with a focus on crime fiction and all things Agatha Christie - is part of our daily routine, and our Radical Ging channel (@radicalging) has given us the opportunity to share it with many people. Thanks to the Read Christie challenge, we have been able to spread our passion for the Queen of Crime further, and had the chance to create and manage a virtual book club.

This reading challenge has made us engage with people from so many countries, all bound together by the passion for Agatha. It really feels like being part of a criminally good book club - without having to worry about being killed! That’s why we came up with some do’s and don’ts on how to host a book club.

Don’t panic! Do pick some rules

Take a deep breath! Remember that hosting a book club is supposed to be a pleasure, not a chore.

Do establish some ground rules (how regularly you meet, should the books be available in paperback, is there a maximum page count), but don’t be too strict. Just like Agatha Christie did, don’t be afraid to push the rules you created either.

Do agree on a book/books

You should ask yourself two questions: should the book club share a common read? Or should you choose a theme for the book club members? If you are not sure, ask the readers what they’d prefer! You can’t always find a book everyone will love, but members might like the author, so try then to suggest some alternatives from the same writer. After all it’s not just your book club, it’s for all of those who join too. Or, all read the same and share your different opinions, that’s also great fun.

Don't be afraid of technology

Decide how you want to engage with others, and where to virtually host your book club online.

You have plenty of options: you can open a Facebook group and use it to discuss the book in detail, asking direct questions using polls and written posts, and using occasional live post to find out the readers opinions in real time. A Facebook group is more of a slow-paced, consistent approach and this will ensure that people engaging in the book club will have the time and space to write about their reading when it suits them best.

Alternatively, you could try Instagram which is all about pictures! You can challenge people to share photos of their different editions of the books you set to read. Readers might find this an easy way to update you on their progress, posting stories and funny captions about their reactions to the story. A hashtag will be fundamental to keep up with all the participants and to spread the reading fever further (and possibly recruit new members).

Radical Ging have been reading a book each month based on the Read Christie challenge prompts

Do host regular meetings

Once you’ve decided on these things, the fun part begins! You can now start your book club meetings. Monthly 'meetings' allow people enough time to read the book club choice, but not long enough to forget what it's about. These can be hosted on a variety of video apps, or on social media. You might decide to check in with the group on their reading progress at the half-way mark, then chat about the book on the last Sunday of the month, for example.

Do prepare some questions

To break the ice, it’s good to prepare some questions you know you want to ask fellow readers about the book, and topics you really want to discuss. You could start by asking about the author: was this their first Agatha Christie? What was their favourite scene? Which characters intrigued them? Then let the conversation roll.

If you plan to run a crime book club, things get a lot easier! You can ask people all of the following:

• Who was their main suspect?

• What did they think of the crime?

• Did anyone guess the culprit? How did they work it out?

• What did they think of the criminal's motive?

    • Are there any TV or film adaptations? Has anyone seen them?

    • Did it remind them of any other stories they've read?

    You will see that once the ice is broken, it will be difficult for everyone to stop talking! And remember, running a perfect crime book club should always make you question whodunnit? And why?

    Don't delay! Get stuck in.

    These are of course just our suggestions, and there is no way to host the perfect crime book club. But if you follow these do's and don’ts, you're guaranteed to have fun! So, plot your favourite book club, look for people who would like to join you, spread the word, and start sharing your favourite books, authors, genres and stories now.

    Photo courtesy of @instantanea_di_un_libro, an Italian bookstagrammer taking part in Read Christie 2019 with Radical Ging

    Can you tell us a little bit more about your experiences of Read Christie 2019?

    Of course! The challenge itself was set up by yourselves at Agatha Christie Ltd, but putting our own Italian twist on it made a big the difference for our platforms too. We are having so much fun seeing which books people are choosing to read this year, their unique pictures with many different props hinting at the plot and the hilarious way they react when they discover whodunnit (all using #ReadChristie2019). We are delighted when we see somebody converted to Christie’s words (or worlds), and we are even happier (not to mention anxious) when people decide to read one of our favourite Christie stories! We wait eagerly to hear from them and see if they had our same reaction.

    One of the most wonderful things about the challenge is hearing people talk about how they came to read Agatha’s books. Many of them found them in their grandparents’ library, maybe they were passed on by their mothers, or perhaps they just saw a copy in a second-hand book shop and they just couldn’t resist. Follow the # on Instagram, join the monthly book club chats on Agatha Christie Ltd’s Facebook, or read the blog to keep up to date with the official challenge. Join us at @RadicalGing for our virtual book club too!

    This article was written by Davide and Marco. Davide Astegiano & Marco Amici are the partners in crime behind Radical Ging (@radicalging). Translators, Christie lovers, book reviewers and bookstagrammers are just a few ways to describe them.

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