Being part of a book club is a great way to make friends, discover good books and relive the glory days of your favorite Lit class through lively discussions while munching on snacks. If you’re looking to start your own book club but don’t know where to begin, here are some basics to cover:
Pick A Theme
One of the first things to do when forming your book club is to pick a theme. It doesn’t have to be extremely rigid, but having no set vision will result in a misalignment of interests between the members. It’s important that people know what they are getting themselves into when they join your book club. Ask yourself what kind of books the group will be reading — fiction or nonfiction? Will the book club focus on a specific genre? Theme? Author? Time period?
Plan Your Reads
Once you have a theme picked, you have to figure out which books fit the description. For example, if your book group is focused on feminism and memoirs by women, consider Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking or Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman. Or maybe you’re a sci-fi junkie that wants to delve into Jeff VanderMeer’s Annihilation or classics from authors such as H. G. Wells. While your theme should be specific, make sure there’s some wiggle room so your group is reading a variety of works that aren’t so similar that the club becomes tedious.
It’s helpful to have a shortlist of books on your group’s reading list so potential members can see what’s lined up and determine whether or not they would like to join. Try outlining your club’s reading schedule so you have the next two books planned out. Once you have your club formed and regular members attending the meetings, you can have votes on what to read in the future and have your members make suggestions to keep it more democratic and diverse.
Scout Out A Meeting Place
Part of forming a book club is providing the meeting space, though this can be one of the not-as-fun aspects to organize. You need a space that will always be available to you and your group, and a place where you can all have an uninterrupted discussion. Coffee shops and cafes are certainly doable, but they might not be the best option, especially for a larger group. Try talking to some local bookstores in your area and see if they will host your club for an hour during a pre-arranged time, or see if you can reserve a room at your local library for a discussion. You can also open up your home to your book club if you and your members are comfortable with that.
Make A Schedule
When forming your book club, you have to determine how frequently your members should meet. It’s important to allow plenty of time for everyone to be able to read the designated book, but you don’t want to have too much time between your meetings because then the group dynamic might be hindered. A good rule of thumb is to begin scheduling your meetings once a month. If you find that many of your members, or even you yourself, need more or less time to finish the books, you can always adjust accordingly.
However, consistency is key — you want your book club to meet as regularly as possible so your members can rely on its consistent schedule and make sure it works for them. If you meet on Monday nights, stick to Monday nights unless the group as a whole decides to reschedule. If you’re reading a book that is longer than the ones normally assigned, discuss with your members on whether to extend the deadline and push the next meeting back. Communication is vital.
Spread The Word
So you’ve got the details of your book club planned. Now what? The next step is recruiting members, which can easily be done through social media or word of mouth. Let your friends know you’re planning a book club and to spread the word. Make a Facebook group or Twitter page and post about your first meeting and what can be expected from the club. You can even go old-school and put up flyers in coffee shops and libraries around your town. Don’t be discouraged if your book club doesn’t draw a mob of members — it’s better if the group is on the small side because that promotes a more inclusive discussion and experience. A typical book club is anywhere up to 15 or so members.