Set the Tone
People like to know what they’re getting into before they commit to something, so it’s important to take a second and think about the vision you have for your book club – even if you’ve never been in one before! Are you picturing something easygoing and social or more academic? This doesn’t mean you need to approach people with a 10-point list of rules from the get-go, but setting the tone for your book club is important.
Cast Your Net
If you have a bookish friend or two that you think might be interested in taking part, start there and let it spread! Social media (Facebook, Twitter) is a great way to let your friends know that your thinking of putting together a group and are looking for people to join in. Again, remember to let everyone know your general thoughts on the tone of the club, which can be detailed as you communicate further.
This ties directly into casting your net, because you want to establish an effective form of communication from the start. Whether you set up a Facebook or Goodreads group or talk through e-mail, you want some way to communicate easily with everyone in the club.
Probably the most wide-ranging difference between book clubs is how they go about choosing books, meeting dates and locations. Obviously, these are going to depend on your personal preference, but you’ll want to establish some kind of system early on. The difficult thing with dates and locations is finding a way to accommodate as many people as possible, but when it comes to choosing books you can really get creative. Some clubs assign each member a month when they can pick, while others choose all of their books for the year in January. You can decide as a group at the end of each meeting or put ideas into a jar and draw randomly. The possibilities are endless.
Do Your Own Thing
The possibilities are endless, so you don’t have to be like every other book club! Just because a friend has a group that meets the same Thursday every month with an assigned discussion leader doesn’t mean that’s the “right” way to run a book club. Remember: you set your tone, so you can choose to do your own thing. Read non-fiction! Bring a food or drink that pairs with your book to each meeting! Read a book before its movie comes out and see the film together! Be different instead of being concerned with doing things the right way.
What Has Worked for Me
About a year and a half ago, I reached out to a friend on Facebook and we posted about the possibility of starting a book club (very laid back, so laid back that our name is Books, Beer and Baked Goods). We created a Facebook group for those who were interested, where we discussed some possible books and made plans for our first meeting. Since then, the numbers of people participating have ebbed and flowed. We’re okay with it because we have a solid core of us that are there each time. To pick our books, we created a Goodreads group where we track what we’re interested in reading and make a choice at the end of each gathering. The meetings rotate randomly between our houses depending on who wants to host that month. Like I said, very laid back…which works – for us!
Keep It Going Strong
I think it’s important to remember that the whole point of a book club is sharing a fun love of reading. If it becomes a chore or something that’s creating stress, then part of the group is not functioning properly (size, overall tone, etc.). It might be time for an overhaul. I see just as many complaints about book clubs as I do expressions of love for them, so I wonder if sometimes we forget what the purpose is: books and friends and all that cheesy stuff (and probably some cheese).
If you’re part of a book club, what has worked for you?