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February 25, 2009

Hard-to-Find Book Club Selections Part I

Posted by carol
In last week's newsletter to registered book clubs, I wrote about a friend who had been all over Manhattan trying to get a copy of his group's next pick: The Invention of Curried Sausage by Uwe Timm. It came out 10 years ago. No bookstores stocked it, not even the Strand, which has an astounding 18 miles of new and used books. Also, the entire New York City library system has only three copies of it, all of which were checked out and with a 35-person waiting list. He ended up buying it online after hours of searching at bookstores and libraries.

This story inspired us to ask readers to what depths they've gone to get their hands on a book club selection. Here are some of their answers. And tomorrow we'll share some advice from reading group members on how to avoid the book-finding dilemma.

Special Delivery
After reading a couple of "heavy" books we decided that we wanted something lighter. We had read Blessed are the Cheese Makers by Sarah-Kate Lynch several years ago and liked her fun and entertaining writing style. While at book club we searched on-line and came across a list of her books, and after reading a summary of each one chose Finding Tom Connor. The next day one of the members sent out an email saying the book was no longer in print and we might need to choose a new book. Not to be deterred I started looking on line to see how many I could find. There are 12 of us in our book group so we needed to find quite a few.

While searching the Internet I ended up on the author's website and contacted her to ask if she knew where we could find her book. She emailed back the very next day and told me that the book had only been published in New Zealand. A member of our book group had a friend that lived in New Zealand so she made contact with the author and the author's agent and got a box of the books and sent them to us. We are currently waiting for the book. Talk about Finding Tom Connor! ---Susannah, West Linn, Oregon

International Intrigue
The tale of the hard-to-find book club selection in the newsletter really hit home for me, so I thought I'd send you a mail to share our ongoing struggle with this problem.

I'm part of a fledgling 6-month-old group in Oslo, Norway, and choosing book club selections is always an adventure. We try to stick with popular contemporary titles to simplify the process, but even then, the bookstores in town rarely stock more than one or two copies of an English title. Thankfully we meet only once a month, so usually we can hand off a single copy to two or three club members before our end-of-the-month meeting. We've also started choosing books two months in advance, giving us one month to find the book, and one month to read it!

But when we each want our own copies of a book, it usually mans finding a "book mule." Anyone who has a trip to the US or UK planned suddenly finds themselves with a pile of requests for the next book club selection. I wonder what the Norwegian authorities would think if they ever stopped one of us at customs only to find half a dozen copies of the same title! Thankfully no one has been arrested as an illegal book importer so far! ---Meg Natraj

Do you have a story about a hard-to-find book club selection? Please share it in the comments section. We'd love to hear about it.