Thursday, September 12, 2013

How To Start A Book Club in 7 Easy Steps

What are Book Clubs?

Do you remember back when you were in school and you were assigned a book to read?  During the process of reading individually, the class would also discuss the storyline and chapters.

Now that you're all grown up, you might find that you still enjoy discussing books with friends but would like something a bit more structured with maybe some food, drinks, and socializing.

The goal of a book club is to read, discuss, learn, and of course socialize.  Without socializing, what fun is the book club.  One might as well be back in school doing book reports.

To help you get started with a list of books visit or join us on our Book Club page.

What Kind of Book Club?

Although there are many genres of book clubs there are only two types: Informal and Formal.

An informal book club is usually about the entertainment value of a book.  The discussions typically are about the book itself.  To me, this group is more on the order of a couple girlfriends getting together and discussing their favorite book and characters.

A formal book club tends to discuss the author's point of view or specific aspects of the book; mood, particular phases, style of writing, location, time frame.  This type of book club often has a leader for the group or meeting along with prepared questions for the discussion.  This group reminds me more of a classroom setting with a teacher and students.

What Genre Will We Read?

  • Specific Author - Read everything from a particular author (remember the movie about the Jane Austin Book Club?)
  • Children - Introduce children to important aspects of reading and to show them the life-long joy found in books
  • Horror - This is certainly not for the faint-of-heart (remember Stephen King's "Pet Cemetery"?)
  • Mystery - Enjoy suspense, intrigue and possibly even some laughs along the way
  • Christian - This is a nice way to expand reading and understanding from Bible Study groups
  • Fiction - This is a very broad genre covering anything that is not Non-Fiction or may combine historical facts within the context of a novel
  • Romance - This can include historical romance, current romance, time-travel romance, chick-lit
  • Science Fiction - Sub-generes may include; Steampunk, Futuristic, Time-Travel, Aliens, Paranormal, and of course Super Heroes 
  • Non-Fiction - Including historical events, biographies, real-life, autobiographies
  • Poetry -  Discuss what the poet was saying or the meaning behind the poem
  • Home and Garden - Discuss housekeeping tips, decorating ideas, parenting, gardening (flowers, vegetables, herbs), crafts
    • This is a nice group to actually try out some gardening or crafts as projects during the meeting
    • Try decorating or re-decorating a room in the host's home
    • There are several books/novels or series that include knitting, crafts, gardening, and tea
  • Cooking - Review recipes or cook books
    • Prepare appetizers, dessert, drinks, or a good meal as part of the meeting
    • Mystery novels revolving around cooking are fun and often include specific recipes mentioned within the storyline
Your group may inherently lean towards a specific genre or be as eclectic and unique as the group itself.   It will all depend on the group's reading preferences.

What Type of Books should We Read? 

Choosing books may depend on your location, structure of your group, and of course finances.
  • Library - Work with your local library to choose books with enough copies for everyone in the group to read at one time 
  • Take Turns - The host for the month gets to choose the book
  • Suggestions - Have everyone list their selections and go down the list or draw from a bowl
  • Paperback - Save some money and only read books that are in paperback format

How Many People Should be in the Book Club?

Start with three people who are avid readers that like to discuss books and meet for a month or two and then ask each member to bring one person to the next meeting.

Six to eight people is ideal for a book club.  The group is small enough to fit in someone's home or around a table at a nearby cafe.  It also allows each member the opportunity to voice their thoughts about the book.

If for some reason, one or two people were unable to attend a particular meeting, there would still be enough people for ample participation.

However, if you're more inclined to have 12 of your closest friends, then each person would only have to host once a year.

When, Where, and How Often will the Book Club Meet?

Start with meeting once a month.  This time frame allows people with the busiest of schedules to complete a book of about 300 pages or less.

Choose a particular time and day to meet.  The meeting could be on the 3rd Thursday of each month starting at 7pm or say the 15th of each month at 7pm.  Whichever fits your groups schedule best.  In any case, try to stick with the same time and day or date of the week.

Places to meet might include a meeting room at the library, in someone's home, at a cafe or coffee shop, in a small room at a restaurant, or at a book store.

What are the Guidelines for the Meeting?

Most gatherings tend to stay relaxed and successful if scheduled at no more than 2 hours.  If everyone meets at 7pm, chat and snack for a few minutes (say 30 minutes) then discuss the book until 8:50, then choose next month's host/book/time/etc.  Or have everyone jump right into the book for an hour upon arrival and then mix and mingle for the remaining hour.

Once a year, once a quarter or every six months, have an administrative meeting to discuss upcoming books, thoughts, issues, time of meeting, location or anything else.

What is the Goal of the Group?

  • Socialize
  • Read good books
  • Donate books or goods to charitable groups
  • Meet new people, strengthen friendships
  • Enjoy learning new foods, crafts, or how to garden
It is always nice to have a goal or a purpose for the group.  This purpose keeps the group focused, however there may be times that the group will alter for one reason or another.  An example of altering may be that one of the members might want to donate her books to the local library and may ask if others would like to do the same.   Another example might be that your group has come up with an awesome craft and want to sell it at the next craft fair to raise some extra money for the group.

Do you belong to a book club?  Have these steps helped you decide to start a book club?

If you are in a book club already, would you please share your ideas and thoughts to help others?

Please share me with your friends!
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