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Christina Shanahan
Jul 01, 2015 @ 9:30 am

She won an Oscar for her role in the film adaptation of Kathryn Stockett's The Help. Next, she'll star in the movie version of William P. Young's The Shack. To top it off, Octavia Spencer just released the second installment of the young adult mystery series she penned, Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective. Take a cue from this book-club ace next time it's your turn to host.

What book got you hooked on participating in a book club?
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle.

What's on your nightstand right now?
I'm about to start Fortunately, the Milk, by Neil Gaiman, and Wench, by Dolen Perkins-Valdez.

What genre works best for group reading?
Mystery. Everyone will have different theories and opinions, so there will never be a shortage of conversation.

Any tips on how to choose a book?
Have each member of your club bring a few options from their personal libraries for consideration, then take a vote. The person who brought the winner gets to reread a fave, and everyone else discovers a new title, not just one that's trendy at the moment.

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An idea for décor based on the book theme?
Take a paper tablecloth and stencil little quotes and affirmations from the book you read at each place setting. When guests take their napkins off the table, the stenciled sayings are revealed. It's a clever alternative to place cards.

How do you encourage thought-provoking conversations?
Choose postcards reminiscent of the book's setting and write ad-lib prompts on each one for the group to complete. For example, "I'm unlike the protagonist in that I enjoy ____." It's like Cards Against Humanity, but less raunchy.

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