A review of How to Turn Your Book Club Into A Spectacular Event by Mayra Calvani

Reviewed by Magdalena Ball

How to Turn Your Book Club Into A Spectacular Event
By Mayra Calvani
Twilight Times Books
ISBN-13: 978-1606192290, Aug 2010, Paperback: 50 pages

Is your child struggling with reading: treating it as a school subject that has to be gotten through rather than enjoyed? Or conversely, does he or she love to read? Either way, Mayra Calvani’s book presents a wonderful idea for encouraging literacy and camaraderie at the same time. It’s a fantastic antidote to the computer generation. How to Turn Your Book Club Into a Spectacular Event is a simple, easy to use manual that describes, step-by-step, how to start a book club, find a catchy name, recruit members, hold meetings, discuss books, record results, choose books, and even choose a funky pen. Calvani has a thorough understanding of teens, and the book is written in catchy, enticing language that will make teens excited about the prospect of a book club. If you’re a teen’s parent, you’ve got to be excited about the prospect of your teens holding a meeting to talk about books with their friends and if it means you’ve got to front up for the carrot sticks, so be it.

The book is definitely geared more towards girls than boys, with the use of the words ‘hostess’, and book lists that are slightly skewed towards the feminine. That doesn’t mean it can’t be used by bookish boys, but it’s hard to picture the reticent teen boy chatting about anything other than the latest Xbox Kill-em-up game – though maybe that’s just my teen boy (and he reads a lot – mostly kill-em-up action novels that seem to follow the same plot as the xbox games). Girls on the other hand, love to talk and work through things verbally (maybe that’s just my girl…) and a book club is absolutely perfect. The way in which Calvani has laid it out, makes the whole thing seem so fresh, cool, and fun, with stylish, reasonably healthy food suggestions (food for thought), and even dressing tips (“comfortable and chic”) that it’s hard to imagine a teen gal getting this book and not wanted to start a book club.

Although How to Turn our Book Club Into a Spectacular Event is targeted to young adults, there’s no reason your social nine or ten year old couldn’t use it, to create a club for younger readers. It’s a good excuse for a little regular party after all, and as long as your child is reading on par with his or her friends, a chance to work through jointly read books in a fun, structured manner has got to be one of the best learning experiences you’ll ever find. The younger your child is, the more involvement you’ll need to have, while older children will enjoy the independence of doing their own carrots, creating their own invitations, and even buying (with their own money if you’re lucky) their own pens. However this book is used, it’s got to be a good thing to get kids talking in general (with mouths rather than fingers), and better still, working together in a relatively structured manner to illuminate good books. If you give this book as a gift to a twelve or thirteen year old girl, the value would go well beyond the pleasure of reading it. This is an excellent idea, well presented.

About the reviewer: Magdalena Ball runs The Compulsive Reader. She is the author of the poetry book Repulsion Thrust, the novel Sleep Before Evening, a nonfiction book, The Art of Assessment, Quark Soup, and, in collaboration with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, Cherished Pulse , She Wore Emerald Then , and Imagining the Future. She runs a monthly radio program podcast The Compulsive Reader Talks.

Article first published as Book Review: How to Turn Your Book Club Into A Spectacular Event by Mayra Calvani on Blogcritics.