How to Start a Book Club

“Would you like to join our book club?” she asked.

Those eight words were music to this bookworm’s ears.

I felt like I’d been asked to sit at the cool kids’ lunch table! I’d been hoping to bust into this group of voracious readers for some time. And then it happened. They finally had an opening. And I was in!


More Than Wine
This group of ten women has been meeting and reading together for years. We even have a name: The Lit Chicks. And in spite of many book clubs’ reputations as “organized wine drinking,” this one actually discusses the book. In great detail. And yes, we do also drink wine.

Joining the Lit Chicks has opened up my reading repertoire as well as my mind. In our club, the hostess gets to select the book. This has pushed me to read many books I may not have otherwise chosen to read. And our respectful, insightful discussions have challenged me to consider new ways of thinking.

We read mostly fiction. We’ve enjoyed psychological thrillers, historic fiction, best sellers, chick lit and romance novels. We’ve even had an author attend to discuss her work. And occasionally, if the book has inspired a movie, we’ll add a field trip to go watch it at the theatre.

How it Works
Our group meets in our homes with a different member hosting each month. We usually meet on week nights for about two hours. The hostess provides snacks and beverages, and facilitates discussion to keep us on track. At the end of a meeting, we compare calendars and select the next meeting date based on availability, and the upcoming hostess lets us know the book she has selected.

Lit Chick club members all live busy lives, but the expectation is that we come prepared, having read the book. After all, it is hard to discuss a book you haven’t read. Our group is a mix of women with diverse professional lives and political views. Because of this, we generally avoid partisan politics. But we do encourage respectful discussion about the books and their themes.

How to Get Started
If you’re considering starting a book club, here are some items to consider:

  • Think about your intentions for the club. Decide on your tone and theme.
  • Will you focus on a specific genre or type of book? Some clubs only do business or self-help books. Others leave it wide open.
  • How often will your club meet? How long will your meetings be?
  • How will you divvy up the responsibilities?
  • Will you be the leader? Or will you rotate who leads meetings?
  • What are the minimum and maximum number of members your club can accommodate?
  • Where will you meet? Consider a library, a book store, a restaurant, or members’ homes.

Remember, there are many ways to organize a book club. It just takes a few interested people to get you started. All you have to do is reach out to friends, colleagues, or fellow bibliophiles and say those eight magic words…“Would you like to join our book club?”


Here’s a list of the Lit Chicks 25 most recent books:

  1. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
  2. Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly
  3. Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
  4. Daring to Drive by Manal al-Sharif
  5. The Girl Before by J.P. Delaney
  6. The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
  7. Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger
  8. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  9. Room by Emma Donoghue
  10. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman
  11. The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
  12. The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
  13. Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  14. Prayers for Sale by Sandra Dallas
  15. The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
  16. The Aviator’s Wife by Melanie Benjamin
  17. Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline
  18. A Lesson Before Dying by Earnest J. Gaines
  19. Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
  20. Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilibagiza
  21. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  22. Constellation of the Vital Phenomenon by Anthony Marra
  23. Me Before You by JoJo Moyes
  24. The Storyteller by Jody Piccoult
  25. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple



Smelly dorm room? Know how to fight the funk!

If you’ve ever walked into your child’s room and been hit by an unknown odor, you know what we’re talking about here. Watch today’s vlog for ideas on how to fight the funk in your kids’ rooms.




Anxiety and college students

anxiety and college students

College can be stressful. Students must juggle school, work, friends, and finances, all while trying to figure out the trajectory of the rest of their lives. Feelings of loneliness, uncertainty and isolation can overwhelm even the most well-prepared students. They become stressed. Anxious.

As adults, we know anxiety is a normal part of everyday life. It is often a natural reaction to stress that can help a person stay alert and motivate them to take action. Anxiety can be uncomfortable, but it is usually brief and resolves itself when the stressor goes away or a problem has been fixed.

An anxiety disorder, however, occurs when these feelings of nervousness or fear grow out of proportion to the situation, become difficult to control, and interfere with daily life.

It’s a real thing.

And it’s becoming more prevalent on college campuses. In fact, anxiety has now surpassed depression as the most common mental health diagnosis among college students.

Nearly one in six college students has been diagnosed with or treated for anxiety within the last twelve months, according to a study by the American College Health Association, and more than half of students who visit campus clinics cite anxiety as a health concern.

How can a parent help?
At this age, students are still maturing and developing the coping skills to manage their perfect storm of emotions. Dr. Kimberly Christensen, a pediatric psychologist, reminds parents there is a typical adjustment to college for all students. “There’s excitement and stress, so keep that in mind,” she says. “Even a child who is depressed may be just stressed by college, and some of that stress is good. Parents need to tease out what’s depression and what’s typical stress.”

For many students, time and self-help are enough to pull through a “low” time. However, other students who have more severe feelings of depression or anxiety may benefit from professional treatment. Many students don’t seek help because they don’t realize the seriousness of their situation. They may be embarrassed, they may view their feelings as personal weakness, or they may feel too “stuck” to reach out.

Signs of anxiety
Signs of anxiety are varied and often hard for parents to catch, especially if children attend college far from home. It’s difficult to decide over the phone if she’s just having a bad day or if she’s truly struggling. Here are some signs that your student may need help:

  • Negative feelings that persist for several weeks
  • Irritability
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of motivation, missing class, procrastination
  • Sleep disturbances, difficulty waking up
  • Lingering, unidentified illnesses
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Rapid weight loss or gain
Difficulties with alcohol or other drugs

Anxiety disorders are treatable
Is your student feeling overwhelmed and out of control?  It may be time to suggest a visit with a counselor. The campus counseling center is a good place to start. Licensed professionals are available for confidential consultations and can refer students for further help. Some centers offer drop-in sessions that teach stress-relieving techniques. Often these visits are at no extra charge, paid for by student fees.

Other ways you can support your student

  • Be an active listener when your student is feeling stressed or anxious.
  • Don’t judge. Just listen.
  • Avoid criticizing or belittling the severity of their symptoms.
  • Encourage healthy coping strategies. Remind them to get out of bed and out of that dorm room.
  • Help them research the next steps they can take for overall wellbeing.
  • Don’t stop telling them how much you love them. They may never admit it, but they still need your words of support and validation.

Resources for parents and students:
Anxiety and Depression Association of America

The JED Foundation


You are not alone. Did you know?
One in four students have a diagnosable mental illness
40% do not seek help
80% feel overwhelmed by their responsibilities
50% have become so anxious that they struggled in school
—National Alliance on Mental Illness



*This is an excerpt from Out to Sea: A Parents’ Survival Guide to the Freshman Voyage by Kelly Radi

10 Tips to Prepare for Final Exams

Follow these tips and watch your productivity and test scores rise!study image

  1. Study in 25-minute bursts, taking a 5-minute break between these sessions. It’s called the Pomodoro Method of productivity.
  2. Listen to music. Studies indicate that music can actually help you study.
  3. Attend study groups.
  4. Alternate where you study.
  5. Alternate how you study. Use study tools like notecards, whiteboards and practice tests.
  6. Study smart. Spend less time studying the material you already understand and more time on the challenging material.
  7. Practice positive self-talk. Envision doing well on the test.
  8. Exercise each day. As little as 20 minutes of daily activity has been shown to boost test scores.
  9. Eat well. Your brain can’t be expected to operate without fuel.
  10. Get adequate sleep. Seriously. All-nighters are NOT the answer.










10 Gifts Your College Student Will Appreciate

 1.  Collapsable Microwave Popcorn Popper 

This ingenious contraption fits right in the microwave and delivers delicious popcorn with no oil required for healthier snacking. The bowl is easy to clean and collapses for smart storage. $9, Amazon.Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 11.08.10 AM

2.   Laptop Decals 

An inexpensive way to motivate them and personalize their laptops. Hundreds of styles to choose from on Etsy, like this one for only $3 from StickersForYouAll. 

Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 11.18.05 AM

3.  Spongelle Shower Sponges and Buffers

With fragrances for men and women, these multi-use, anti-microbial body sponges are the gifts that keep on giving all year long. $14, Skin Spa.


4.  Fun Phone Chargers

Staying charged up is critical for a student on the go! There are many creative chargers that double as conversation-starters, including this pineapple. $30, Target.Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 11.39.35 AM 5.  Packing Cubes

Packing (and unpacking) is a breeze when they use these lightweight travel organizers. $22, Ebags.Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 11.46.37 AM

6.  Cards Against Humanity

Entertain the entire dorm floor with this game! $25, Cards Against Humanity StoreScreen Shot 2017-11-11 at 11.54.56 AM

7.  Hammock

Hammocks are all the rage on campuses. Students can pick a spot outside and set up a study camp. Or take a nap. $50, REIScreen Shot 2017-11-11 at 11.57.04 AM8.  Bendable Tri-pod for Cell Phones

Another way for the selfie generation to up their photo game. Also great for snapping next year’s family Christmas card photo! This one by DaVoice comes with an adapter and travel bag. $10 Amazon.Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 12.10.14 PM

9. Customized Sorority or Fraternity Gear

Has your student gone Greek? From clothing and accessories to stationery and pillows, like the one by Sororitee ($30) below, Etsy is filled with customizable products that proudly represent Greek life.

Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 12.19.50 PM
10. A Pair of Sneakers

With the school year well underway, a new pair of kicks just might be the ticket to a comfortable walk to class. Screen Shot 2017-11-11 at 12.29.32 PM

Hope this helps! Happy holidays, parents. Wishing you a season of peace.


P.S. For more guidance on parenting through the high school-to-college transition, buy yourself a gift —  Out to Sea: A Parents’ Survival Guide to the Freshman Voyage.