Need help getting your book club off the ground? These tips can help you find your reading tribe.
|9 Steps to Jump-Start Your Book Club|
Readers are usually happy to go it alone. I can spend hours buried in my fortress of solitude with a good book and a cup of coffee. Until…
Snape did WHAT? Could you believe that moment the girl with the dragon tattoo did—?! I almost lost my mind when the thief was actually working for—! Readers can’t stay curled up alone under our blankets at moments like these; we need a posse of book geeks to share in our emotional outbursts. Readers are a wild and crazy bunch, am I right?
I’ve been part of some phenomenal books clubs, some not-so-great ones, and some that never got off the ground. Right now, I am part of a fantastic bookclub with diverse reading tastes, and we’ve managed to find middle ground that keeps everyone happy. I’ve learned a few things, and I want to share them with you.
Here are 9 steps that will jump-start your best book club ever!
1. Start small
The easiest place to start is with one or two friends who share your reading tastes. If Sandy only likes horror and you like chick lit, your reading group will fall apart pretty quickly. Start by making a list of genres and titles you each like and find the areas that overlap.
2. Spread the Word
Put out some feelers on social media and word-of-mouth as to who might be interested in joining the book club. Be generous here. Out of 20 people who are interested, only 4 or 5 may show up. You can always break into smaller groups if your response is overwhelming.
3. Location, Location, Location
Decide on your first meeting location. Go to a local restaurant for drinks, or host it yourself with some easy bookish appetizers.
It doesn’t really matter as long as the location is accessible and entices your members to attend. You won’t really know who is committed until they show up, but this is a great time to show everyone why they won’t want to miss out. Keep it fun and social.
4. Set Expectations
At your first meeting you should also take some time to pick your first book and go over what everyone wants from the club. What do people like to read? How often do they want to meet, how will the group choose which book to read? What are the discussion ground rules? Start easy. Pick from books that are general crowd pleasers or trending in the media. Once the group is more established you can take risks.
Here are a few of my suggestions to get you started:
– Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
– The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
– Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
– Wonder Boys by Michael Chabon
– The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
– The Martian by Andy Weir
– The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
5. Avoid a dominant voice
Even if you have one person who handles most of the scheduling and communication, make sure everyone’s voice is still heard. You can rotate book choices, draw from a hat, work from a list, or turn in anonymous suggestion cards. Whatever you choose, make sure no one feels pressured to pick a certain book for the sake of the group. Honor each member’s choice because her book may turn out to be the best one yet. Being inclusive is key to keeping your book club afloat.
6. Don’t Get in a Rut
Your group may decide to re-read a popular series together, or read from a single genre. That’s great! Once you have all settled in to a routine together, take some time to reflect on whether you are challenging yourselves. The whole point of a book club is to inch out of your comfort zone and connect with each other through a shared experience. Throw in a few books your group finds intimidating or even controversial.
7. Employ Social Media
Hop on Goodreads and compare bookshelves and reviews. Consider starting a group Facebook page or collaborative Pinterest board to share book suggestions, literary discussion topics, meeting locations, etc. This approach also gives new members a way to connect and get a snapshot of the group’s past activity. Keep it simple and effective. The last thing you want is for your book club to become a hassle on an already booked schedule. Whether you communicate via email, text, or social media, choose a method that everyone can check without extra effort.
8. Multitask or Meet Remotely
Between work schedules, commutes, and family activities, your group may find it difficult to set a meeting time. Don’t panic! Book clubs tend to me more fun when they meet in-person, but that’s not mandatory. Brainstorm ways to multitask your get-togethers, like a conference call during your morning commute, lunch meetings, a walking or running book club, “books and babies” play dates, or other alternative book clubs.
9. Adjust When Necessary
Don’t be afraid to adjust your focus if something isn’t working. After all, book clubs are supposed to be a social way to read books that enlighten and entertain. If the group needs different genres, or a change in meeting frequency or venue, change it up a bit. Ask each other for ideas to improve the book club.
Your turn! Are you part of a book club or have you wanted to start one? What challenges have you experienced?