How to Start a Medieval Book Lovers Club…plus 10 great book suggestions
A few years back, a group of my friends got together to start a book club. Each of us was already in a book club, some in two or three. And while we were certainly enjoying our time and reading excellent books, we still felt there was something missing from the experience.
Like most book lovers, we often read more than one book at a time. And we discovered we were having passionate discussions about the same books … none of which had been chosen for our various book clubs.
What we were getting so excited about was the historical fiction and non-fiction books we were reading, specifically on English royalty – the medieval kind! Plus at the same time, we were also talking exhaustively about every single detail of the hit TV show, The Tudors.
“Ah ha!” Lightbulb. And so our royalty book club, Tea and Tudors, was born. What fun it is to get together and discuss our most favorite people, the Plantagenets and Tudors.
7 Simple Steps to Get Started
Have you ever thought about getting together with your friends and neighbors to discuss books you love to read? Focusing on just one topic can really help you explore the history. It’s so easy to get started. Here’s how:
Invite your friends you think will be most interested. SERVE wine or tea or coffee and a snack or two. That’s very important.
Decide on your historical framework and stick to it! Otherwise you could get overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of history. We decided to focus on the Plantagenets and Tudors – because we LOVE them. But we had a friend who didn’t join because she loved the Hanoverians. (Go figure!)
Decide on how often you will meet. Ideally once a month is best. That way everyone can put it on their schedule and plan for it. Plus, people will have enough time to read the book. For us, since so many of our members are in other book clubs, we thought every other month was realistic to read the book.
Plan it for the same day of the month, i.e. the first Tuesday of the month. People are more inclined to show up for regularly scheduled events and to make their other plans around book club.
Have the meeting at a different house each time. That way you’re not always the host. Always decide who is going to host the book club the following month at that night’s meeting. Or you’ll start missing months because you don’t know where you’re going to meet.
For the first meeting, you choose the book. But for subsequent months, the group can mutually agree on a book to read or the person offering to host the club the following month can choose the book. This might motivate people to host an evening. We mix our book selections between fiction and non-fiction. (For a list of suggested books to start, see below.)
And finally … always serve refreshments. Even if it is just popcorn and soda, or cookies and tea, or cake and coffee, food always makes an event a party.
How to Discuss Your Book
To facilitate the book discussion, consider asking these questions to encourage discussion. For example:
CHARACTERS: *Who is narrating the story? *What is the main character’s attitude and behavior? *Can you trust the narrator? *How do the characters interact? *What do the characters represent? *Are the characters believable? *Who are your favorite characters? Why?
THEME: *What is the overall theme of the book? *What message does the author convey? *How does the theme relate to our lives? *Is it still relevant? *Is the theme universal? How? *Is the book timeless?
SETTING: *What is the time and setting of the story? *Does the author do a good job evoking the time period? *Do you feel as if you were there?
PLOT: *What is the plot summary or outline? Is it historically accurate? If historical fiction, where does the author digress from real events?
SYMBOLISM: *Are there recurring images? *How do they relate to the theme? *How does the author use symbolism to further his/her message?
SHORT BIOGRAPHY OF AUTHOR: *Birth date, country, and death date *Other works
GENERAL QUESTIONS: *What did you like most about the book? *What did you like least about the book? *How did the book affect you? *Would you read another book by the same author or on the same topic? *Was the book difficult to read? *Did the book broaden your scope of history?
These are just suggestions to help your group. By no means, turn them into “rules”. Keep it loose and kept it fun. Don’t be afraid to mix up the medium. Consider for example, reading a biography or novel about Eleanor of Aquitaine or Henry II, and enjoy a group viewing of the DVD, The Lion in Winter.
A Few Suggested Reads from our Book List
Now everyone’s tastes are different and in our group we had beginners to very experienced readers of royal medieval history. For some the books chosen were a brand new adventure, for others it was re-visiting an old friend. The important thing is to pick a book and get started!
Here are a few suggestions from our Tea and Tudors Book Club list to get you started…
The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman
The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George
The Plantagenets by Dan Jones
Katherine by Anya Seton
The Women of the Cousin’s War by Philippa Gregory
Elizabeth, the Struggle for the Throne by David Starkey
Queen Isabella: Treachery, Adultery & Murder in Medieval England by Alison Weir
Crown in Candlelight by Rosemary Hawley Jarman
The Queen’s Bed: An Intimate History of the Elizabeth’s Court by Anna Whitelock
Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
Many of the books suggested, along with others, have been reviewed by our crack staff of reviewers. Simply click here to check out our reviews. More reviews are added every month so please check back regularly.
Meanwhile for your convenience, you can click here to order the above-referenced books through Amazon…