Written by: Zoe Lea
What can be better than reading a great book? Discussing that great book with other readers!
I’m the type of reader who doesn’t quickly forget a book once I’ve finished the last page. I love nothing more than talking about it. I’m curious to know the thoughts of others, those that have just read the same words I have, whilst the narrative is still fresh and the characters are still real people inside our heads.
I want to know what they made of a certain scene compared to my thoughts, if they loved a character as much as I did, if the ending was satisfying or disappointing. And it’s for this reason that book clubs are wonderful things.
Before starting one up, I always shied away a little from the idea of a book club. The name held images of stilted conversations, awkward silences where no one wanted to voice their opinion first and I imagine some book clubs are like that, which makes me shudder, because they really don’t have to be.
With a little planning, you can start up a book club that you can’t wait to attend. All that’s needed is some consideration over the following points.
Decide on the purpose of your book club
Sounds obvious right? You want to read books of course! But think about it, what kind of books do you want to read? Will it be only in one genre or a mix? Fiction or nonfiction? Will it be purely for socializing or do you want to have heated discussions?
Laying down some basic ground rules concerning the type of books in your club, and what you expect the outcome to be will help you make the right choices before your first meeting.
Where will your book club happen?
If you’re after a relaxed club with the benefit of socializing, then it might be a good idea to hold your book club in someone’s home. You could alternate the host of the book club each time you meet, meaning the club would always be at a different location. If you’re not able to meet in person, you could meet online, through a website or somewhere more formal, such as a library or rented room.
The location will very much provide the atmosphere to your book club, so if you’ve taken the time to consider what type of book club you want (see previous point) then it should give you an idea of the best place to hold it.
Who to invite?
A great way to get a diverse group of people together for your book club is to invite three or four friends and get them each to invite another.
This gives you a group of about eight, which I think is just the right amount. Too many and not everyone will get a chance to speak, and you might get break off groups having their own discussions. Too little and the conversation may be over quicker than you would like!
Organize a pre-book club meeting and decide on some ground rules
It’s always a good idea to get together before anyone actually reads anything and go over what’s expected in the book club.
Do people have to read the book if they aren’t enjoying it? Should they prepare something in advance, such as scores or marks out of ten? Who leads the discussion and most importantly, what will be your first book!
Set out a schedule for the meetings
Most book clubs meet monthly, but if you choose a very long book, you might want to think about meeting every six weeks. Make sure you have the contact information for each member and that everyone is aware of what’s involved and what’s required of them.
Once your book club is up and running you can mix up how to lead discussions to see which works best. You might want to prepare questions, read some scenes from chapters aloud or let members take turns to lead the discussion.
After you’ve established the routine and everyone is comfortable with the format then the book club is bound to change and grow as you do as readers.