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Q&A with  Sanne Vliegenthart, author of Book Club Journal

Posted by Lucy H on 6th May 2021

Q&A with Sanne Vliegenthart, author of Book Club Journal

Book Club JournalWhat was the inspiration for this journal?

We wanted to create a journal that would be a really helpful, but also a beautiful tool for readers to document their reading for their book club(s), and at the same time include some useful tips and tricks from my experience, plus lots of reading inspo. I find that when I take the time to make notes during and after the reading of a book, it really helps me remember things that I can then use to have a really interesting discussion. So the journal is ‘guided’ in the way that it prompts you with different sections for each book you document. 

I was also really keen to include some tracker pages, for anything from who you’ve borrowed a book from, to your reading wish list. So lots of practical things, wrapped in a beautiful cover!

You’ve been on Twitter & YouTube since 2008. What are the most remarkable changes to social media that you’ve seen in that time

When I started it was definitely seen as a very weird and geeky thing to do, and not many people even knew what YouTube was. Now things like BookTube and Bookstagram are MASSIVE and for some creators it’s become their full time job. It’s fantastic to see more and more people share their reading online, and for lots of readers to find a place to find inspiration.

What inspired the YouTube name?

I always have a hard time coming up with titles and names for things and I somehow hit the jackpot with this one, as I’m very lucky that I still like it over 12 years later. I think I was looking for something that immediately communicated what I talked about, but also had a bookish and historical vibe. And very importantly, it was also available on all existing social platforms (except for LiveJournal, where it was fittingly taken up by a Hermione fan account).

We were intrigued by the “Reading” page on your blog – what will that feature in future?

My blog is still a work in progress, since my main focus is on YouTube and Instagram, but I like to use it to curate content that I already talk about elsewhere, but in a shape that makes it easier to Google and for it to be all in one place. So things you might Google like: ‘literary locations to visit in England’ or ‘where to start with Dutch literature’. To be continued!

Virtual socialising in lockdown has been invaluable. Once we’re allowed to meet up in person again, who’d be in your dream book club and why?

I recently found out that Housemans Bookshop in London has a Feminist Sci-Fi Book Club that I’d love to join in person. I really enjoy discussing books with friends, but it can be super refreshing to join a group of strangers with the same interest.

What are your best book club food and drink suggestions?

I think cookies are always a super easy to theme or decorate. Otherwise, finding inspiration from the country, setting or historical period from the book you’re discussing is a great way to go. And finally, a tea party always has a bookish feeling to it (especially with an Alice in Wonderland twist).

Who do you think is your typical reader, if such a person exists? Who would you love to use your book journal?

Book Club Journal spread 1

Anyone that loves to document their reading and look back on it. I have tons of digital notes, but it feels extra special to have your thoughts in one place inside a beautiful object. I’d love for it to be used by readers who are trying to read more and thinking deeper about what they’re reading. 

And I’ve already seen a few people who are buying the journal together with a friend or were prompted by the journal to start their own book club, and that’s of course the most fulfilling result I can imagine!

Do you have a favourite genre or author? What books or authors would you say were significant influences on you?

I’ve always worked in YA publishing, and it’s a category that didn’t really exist when I was growing up in the Netherlands. I will always have a soft spot for YA, as I love the fandoms and how YA authors often jump from genre to genre, but across the board my favourite books tend to be Dystopian and Apocalyptic. 

I also used to read a lot of historical fiction when I was younger, and I’m slowly finding my way back to that too. As for the dreaded ‘favourite books’ question, I love Wuthering Heights, Station Eleven and The Old Kingdom series.

The COVID-19 situation has affected us all in different ways. How have you been managing in the lockdowns?

I’ve been working from home as a freelancer for a few years no, and I’ve really missed being in creative spaces and working with friends. I ‘m always writing lists, so I had all kinds of ‘fun things to do during lockdown’ checklists, to make sure I had something to look forward to. I did everything from rewatching all of Outlander to joining my first online life drawing class and trying out new baking recipes.

What would your perfect day look like, and what’s the first place you want to visit after lockdown?

I would love to return to Stourhead. Some of the most iconic scenes from the Keira Knightly Pride and Prejudice adaptation were shot there (including the marriage proposal in the rain!) and I visited once before, over 5 years ago. Locations related to literature or book to film adaptations are my favourite to visit and that one is top of my list for a return visit! 

The perfect day includes a lovely walk in nature, good conversations with friends, a picnic and some time to read, whether it’s an audiobook during my walk or sitting on a bench with a book.

What are you reading at the moment?

Book Club Journal spread 2

I’m currently reading Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro. I absolutely adore Never Let Me Go and was really exited to see another dystopian themed novel by Kazuo. It’s also my second book of his that I’m reading, so can’t wait to see what I think and possibly continue with the rest of his books.

What was your favourite book as a child?

I devoured the Artemis Fowl and Darren Shan series (in translation), alongside a long list of Dutch historical fiction for children, but a big stand out title was probably Hatchet by Gary Paulsen, about a boy who has to survive in the Canadian wilderness after a plane crash. I think I’ve loved dark and plot driven stories from the very beginning.

How do you organise and choose your tbr? What is currently on your list?

It changes all the time! Sometimes I’m lead by whatever my next YouTube video is, but often I’ll just scan the room and see what draws me in. I have a bad habit of putting books down halfway through and picking up another one, so I need to make sure I keep all my ‘currently reading’ books in eyesight so I don’t accidentally abandon them.

Currently high on the list I’ve got Ace of Spades, Kim Jiyoung Born 1982 and a reread of Station Eleven.

Thank you very much for speaking to us, we wish you every success with the journal.

Order your copy of Book Club Journal here:

Author photo by Sanne Vliegenthart