This is a great way to share books. From small clubs that gather in living rooms and libraries to the millions who tune in to find out Oprah’s picks each month, book clubs are everywhere!
The easiest way to get a club started is to just phone up another friend or two who like to read. You can also put up posters advertising your club if you want more members. Post flyers at your church or library.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of a reading club is choosing the books. You want the perfect book: one that’s not too easy, not too hard, that will hold the interest of a diverse club of readers and will also inspire a lively discussion. Sometimes it’s risky to try a book that no one’s heard of before, but you may be surprised. Choosing a focus of the book club can help narrow down book choices. Some suggestions are: local authors, best sellers, prize winning books, or specific genres such as mysteries, children’s books, science fiction, or nonfiction.
Next, choose a location. You could meet at someone’s home or a public facility such as a community center, local bookstore, or library. Size of the club can depend on location. For example, if the meeting is in someone’s home, then small a group of 6-8 works best. Larger groups can be accommodated in public facilities. Since some people won’t be able to make every meeting, make sure you can still have a good conversation with a couple of missing members; if you have more than twelve, it’s hard to let everyone speak their minds.
Consider serving light snacks and drinks to add to a more relaxed atmosphere which is conducive for discussions. You can have a potluck where everyone brings something, rotate the food responsibility to one or more persons, or folks can chip in some money to cover expenses.
Generally, topics for discussion at the book club are: the author, book themes, characters/plot, specific passages, and what you liked or disliked about the book. It is important to designate a discussion leader (or rotate the responsibility) in order to help move the meeting along, guide the discussion points, make sure everyone has a chance to speak, and keep within the time-frame of the meeting. Some clubs have the person who proposed the book get the conversation started. You can also have each member come up with a couple questions of their own. Don’t be afraid to use outside help. Find a Reading Club Guide for your book online and use those questions to start the discussion. Sometimes it can be tough to spark a good debate, so it never hurts to have a lot of questions and tricks up your sleeve.
Once your discussion is rolling, you need to keep it on track. Remind members to ground their comments in the text; if they have to point out specific examples from the book, they probably won’t ramble too much. You might have a couple of people in the club who add a lot to the conversation but also have a tendency to get off topic. The most important part of a Reading Club is the book, so try hard to keep the discussion focused.
Usually book clubs meet once a month. Make sure you allow enough time for everyone to obtain and read the upcoming book for discussion. Book club gatherings can last anywhere from 1-3 hours depending on the host availability and group consensus.
Once you’ve decided on a date and time, consistency is important. That way everyone is aware of the commitment and can bring friends or give advance notice if they can’t make it. Attendance can be a big deal with clubs just starting out. Make sure your friends are really dedicated to reading the books and will come to the meetings.
The first few weeks will be a little crazy as you’re working stuff out, but you’ll be surprised how much fun you and your friends can have discussing the great books you read! Good luck!