Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Author Karen Wojcik Berner: Starting A Book Club

I had the pleasure of getting to know author Karen Wojcik Berner last year when her debut novel, A WHISPER TO A SCREAM, toured. I’m delighted to welcome Karen back today on another WOW Blog Tour with her current release, UNTIL MY SOUL GETS IT RIGHT, Book Two in her Bibliophiles series.

UNTIL MY SOUL GETS IT RIGHT continues the series with the story of another member of the Bibliophiles Book Club: Catherine, the budding actress. The story details how Catherine doesn't do all her pretending on stage, she pretends in her "real life" and even to herself. This book is a great read as Catherine rockets around the country, moving to a new "home" every time things get uncomfortable.

Karen is sponsoring a special contest on her blog Bibliophilic Blather for those who missed A WHISPER TO A SCREAM the first time around. Readers can win a copy of Book One in the Bibliophiles Series. Click over to see how.

Since Karen’s series features the Bibliophiles Book Club and I’ve never been a member of a book club, I asked her to explain how one starts a Classics Book Club. 

Are you longing to revisit the classics you read back in school? Or, maybe you never read them, opting instead for Cliff’s Notes and regret your most unfortunate decision? 

Well, ladies and gentlemen, now is a great time to start, and I am here to help you. My series, The Bibliophiles, explores the lives of fictional suburban classics book club members. The first, A WHISPER TO A SCREAM (The Bibliophiles: Book One), centers on Sarah, a stay-at-home mother of two, and Annie, a PR executive with fertility issues. The latest, UNTIL MY SOUL GETS IT RIGHT (The Bibliophiles: Book Two), chronicles Catherine Elbert’s journey as she bounces from coast to coast in search of her true self.

Each novel features two pieces of classic literature that are guaranteed to spark some great conversations. Just follow the steps below, and you are on your way to your own fabulous bookUntilMySoulGetsItRight club meeting.

1. Gather friends who love books and enjoy talking about them. Or just friends who love to talk. Or friends who like to drink. Either way, it will be a lively gathering.

2. Set a date. 

3. Consult the handy party ideas and discussion questions below.

4. Read. Eat. Drink. Discuss.


In UNTIL MY SOUL GETS IT RIGHT, the Bibliophiles are about to begin “The Crucible,” Arthur Miller’s dramatization of the Salem Witch Trials. Here are a few hints to get your meeting started.

Classic: “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller

Food and Beverages: Puritan fare. Serve cornbread, roasted turkey and stewed pumpkin with ginger, butter and vinegar. To drink, Puritans preferred beer, wine or cider.

For more Puritan food tips, go to http://www.ehow.com/way_5486139_puritan-cooking.html

Discussion Questions

The Puritans of Massachusetts Bay Colony established a theocracy, in which religion and government became intertwined. What do you think life would be like living in a theocracy?

Do you think people nowadays could be easily swept up into the hysteria that plagued Salem?

Salem is clearly a patriarchal society. Discuss the village women and their roles. Would the witch trials have happened if more men were accused? How do you think the proceedings would have changed?

So far, my fictional Bibliophiles have discussed James Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” and William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.” If you would like more meeting tips and discussion questions, please visit the book club suggestions page on my website, www.karenberner.com.

Karen, thanks so much for joining us again and for sharing these great tips. Starting a book club sounds like a lot of fun.

Now a bit of background on Karen. She lives a provincial life tucked away with her family in the Chicago suburbs. She majored in English and Communications at Dominican University and couldn’t help but write about the society that surrounds her.

A book lover since a toddler, when she isn't reading, writing, or spending her time wishing she was Jane Austen, Karen spends her time sipping tea or wine, whichever is more appropriate that day, and watching Tim Burton movies or "Chopped," her favorite foodie TV show.

For more on Karen, her writing, and her books, check out her website, visit her blog, find her on Facebook, and see what she’s up to on Twitter.

Here’s another brief description of UNTIL MY SOUL GETS IT RIGHT:
The ladies (and men) of the Bibliophiles Book Club are back! This time the spotlight is on Catherine. Catherine Elbert has never been good at making decisions, whether it was choosing an ice cream flavor as a child or figuring out what she wanted to be when she grew up. The only thing Catherine knew for sure was there had to be more to her life than being stuck on her family’s farm. 

So Catherine became enamored with the complete opposite of the flat farmlands of Burkesville, Wisconsin – the ocean, lobsters, and rugged coast of Portland, Oregon. Despite her parents’ threat to disown her and her brothers’ bets on how many days until she comes home Catherine heads for Peaks Island, off the coast of Portland. 

She is finally free. Or so she thought. What Catherine forgot was that you can’t run away from yourself!

Be sure to visit Karen’s blog for a chance to win a copy of Book One in her series. Are you a member of a book club? Have you ever belonged to a book club? Have you ever thought about starting your own book club? Thanks so much for stopping by today. Have a wonderful day.


  1. Karen, thanks again for returning to Thoughts in Progress to talk about book clubs and your latest release. Wishing you much success.

  2. Mason - Thanks for hosting Karen.

    Karen - Thanks so much for sharing the details of starting a book club. I think book clubs are a really important part of the way people learn about new books/authors and they can give readers entirely new perspectives on a book.

  3. Mason, thank you so much for having me here today. I hope I can help your readers start their own classic book clubs, if they so choose. Or, if someone is a solitary sort, he or she can have fun reading along with The Bibliophiles. Either way is okay by me. :)

    Margot, you are absolutely correct. Every once in awhile, I visit book clubs who discuss my novels. It is really interesting to hear the different perspectives and interpretations.

    Oh, hey, a plug, if you don't mind--if anyone would like me to visit your book club, drop me an e-mail at karen@karenberner.com. If you are in the Chicagoland area, I can be there in person. Otherwise, we can Skype. I'd love to meet you.

    Thanks much!

  4. Sound like interesting books. Thanks for sharing about them.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.