How to Start Your Own Book Club
As in many other areas of our lives, the vast reach of the Internet has had a profound effect on the availability of book clubs and reading groups. While online book clubs offer forums for discussion, most avid readers still prefer the interactive, face-to-face experience of traditional book clubs. Starting your own book club can be an interesting experience, especially if there aren’t many existing book clubs in your local area. Once started, a book club is a great way to stay connected with old friends as well as make new ones.
The ideal number of book club members can vary, but most groups are between eight and 16 members. Your group’s size might depend on, or dictate, where you plan to hold meetings. You may find it difficult to host a group larger than eight or nine people at your home, for instance. On the other hand, you want to make sure you have enough members for an engaging discussion as well as an eclectic mix of personalities to make for interesting discourse.
A great way to form a fun and interesting book club group is to choose a core team of three friends who are devout readers like you and ask them each to invite three people. You can also form your book club by simple word of mouth at work, school and social gatherings. Posting flyers at your local library and area book stores is another good way to find book club members; it can also make for a much more diverse group than asking friends and acquaintances.
Decide on some “administrative” details as a group so everyone knows what to expect. Choose how often you will meet and where. A typical book club might decide to meet once a month on a pre-determined day (the second Saturday of every month, for instance) and have group members take turns hosting. Quiet cafes and restaurants are a great alternative as it removes the pressure of hosting – you may even receive a group discount if you frequent one place every month.
Letting members know any ground rules early on, or even deciding them as a group, can help avoid conflicts and everyone can coordinate their schedules accordingly. During the first meeting, you should also decide on a process for choosing what books you will read.
Another important decision you need to make is who will moderate the discussions. You can go with a professional leader to ensure the club has well balanced discussions and also to help the group decide what books to read. If your group is more informal, you can lead the discussions by doing some research on the book, author and other details – or you can rotate moderation to give everyone a chance to lead.
One fun and interesting idea is to maintain a memoir of all the books the group has finished reading with the plot summary and highlights of the discussions and members’ opinions. This is a great way to document your journey as a group and it’s also useful when bringing new members up to speed.
Have you ever been a member of a book club? If so, share your tips and suggestions with the community in the Comments section below.