Book Club

In college, my sorority sisters and I referred to an unsanctioned after party as a “book club”.


Now, it means something different to me. I have two dear friends who meet with me online once we all complete our latest reading. We talk for an hour (after a brief update about our lives) then choose what book we’d like to do next based off what we heard was good or one of us enjoyed recently. We usually start with “What did you think overall?” and end with “What did the author want us to get out of this?”

Author Ashley Crookham book club inspiration


I’ve heard others have larger groups, meet in person, require set times, or follow rules in order to choose the book. In comparison, our book club is relaxed and I feel good about what we have. Yes, sometimes our schedules don’t align quickly and I read many other things during the interim. I sit to chat and it’s a bit like being at the movie theater. So many previews have shown I have forgotten what movie I came to see.


Yet it’s worth it because the three of us each bring something to the table. We draw on experiences of volunteering, adoption, teaching in public schools, pregnancy, achieving a PhD, international research, divorce, moving around the country, marriage, family rifts, jail, vacations, home buying, and deaths in the family. We look at the books from a learning perspective, academic discernment, and with technical critique. We all love to read and have enough books in common to make comparisons.


We’ve been discussing books since 2011. We’ve read serious books, and seriously popular titles. Classics and new Goodreads suggested. Some include:

All Our Wrong Todays

Born a Crime

Flight Behavior

The Girl on the Train

Men We Reaped

No Impact Man


Turtles All the Way Down

World on Edge


I look forward to our chats, and hearing what the others say. This reminds me how many ways there are to interpret a book, and how a book is a different experience to us at different times in our lives. I am no longer a harsh book critic. Instead I look for what the book could be to someone as well as what is was to me when I chanced to read it.


What have your experiences been with a book club?

Hey, you’re a Goodreads Author now!

One of the most exciting e-mails I’ve ever received had the subject line: “Hey, you’re a Goodreads Author now!”

Feel free to check out my page there, if you haven’t already. Then, vote on the best line from my short story “Born to Stub”.

Love, Ashley (Crookham)





P.S. Are we goodreads friends yet?

Goodreads Reviews: Why I changed my ratings

My real job is to help people learn about good nutrition.

I teach adults how to create balanced meals while sticking to their budgets. I teach older people how to adjust to making food for only one person. I teach busy parents how to find ways to add activities they like into their lives so they get enough exercise.

I teach young children to open their minds to new foods. I’ve fed kids quinoa, artichokes, and prunes.

What I’ve learned from kids is that there is often an optimal time to like something. Little Jimmy will eat a mushroom if it’s on his pizza. Little Sally will eat a raw tomato if she gets to pick it out of the garden. Little Kaden will drink skim milk if he gets to dunk a graham cracker into it first. Little Ryleigh will take a bite, but only if I take one with her.

All the time I tell kids they may need to try things over and over, in different ways, and with different people before they like a new food. I remind them that trying new foods is an act of bravery. I ask them for an instance of a time they tried a food for the first time, and they didn’t think they’d like it, but then they did. They can usually think of at least one example.


I used to be a harsh critic on Goodreads. Perhaps I wanted to prove myself as a serious reader. Perhaps I thought it was the job of the author to get my attention and admiration with their book, no matter what else was going on in my life when I chose to read their work.

Many of my friends are on Goodreads, and we have books in common. We don’t always give the book the same rating, and it occurred to me that perhaps the books I gave less than 4 stars to were just not read at the optimal time.

For example, I once didn’t like a book set in New York because I had just read a string of books with the setting. I was tired of it. If I’d have read it before a trip to NYC I was looking forward to, I might have loved it. This is how it is with books. Sometimes we’re in the mood for a serious book, sometimes we’d like something light to read. Sometimes we want to learn, sometimes we want to step away from reality.

Authors rely on book ratings to gain followers. Promotion of a book allows them to keep writing, to improve, to create stories the world is better off for hearing. A negative rating might influence a new reader’s perception of the book. They might not take a bite.


I spent one night deleting medium to bad ratings of books. I don’t think they were ever more than a representation of my mindset when I read them. I won’t go back and give 4 or 5 stars to books I read in the past, but I think in the future I will try to remember that every book must be judged not only on its merit, but also in relation to my reading needs at that time.

Love, Ashley (Crookham)