Most of you are well aware that I am passionate about Book Club. Are you a member of one? Maybe you might want to be a member but you don't know anyone that has a club that you can join. Maybe it is time for you to branch out and start your own. I am going to help you with some tips and lessons I have learn from being a member of two different clubs.
Who Do You Invite?
This is important when starting up your own book club. Decide what type of book club you want to be involved in. Do you want to keep it strictly to close friends? Or maybe you want to get to know some members of your church and know that a couple of the girls enjoy reading. Sometimes you can mesh the two groups together. As for me, I just wanted to read. I invited everyone without thinking ahead of time.
Think of the people you will be inviting though. Is one easily offended? Is one just wanted to read G rated books? Or maybe you have a couple of members that are not interested in religious book or are interested in just a specific genre such as Historical Non-Fiction or Romance. Invite anyone and everyone and discuss these things at the first meeting. You can find out a lot about someone from asking them their favorite authors and books. If you find that maybe there are a few that won't enjoy radical or controversial books and another group are more conservative then see if they would be willing to divide into two groups. If you have lots of time then two different groups would be a great way to go.
Decide on how many people you want. My family one is small. Just Mom, Sister, Sister-in-law and I. Sister-in-law brings the kiddies which is fun. Friend book club: The more the merrier! The more members you have the more opinions/views/discussions arise. I feel 6-8 is ideal. It is enough but not too many to find a place to sit (:
With any type of Club there must be rules. When my friend and I first started our "Friends" Book Club about 3ish years ago we didn't even think of this aspect. We quickly learned that there should be some kind of set rules to keep "order" if you will. It is easier to set these rules beforehand so as to not make things uncomfortable later on. Here I have list ours as an example.
Friends Book Club:
#1 No husbands allowed. Most husbands don't want to be around so this hasn't been a huge issue. I always feel most comfortable around just us members. When someone outside of our members is around I feel more introverted for fear of being judged, which is something I don't want to have to worry about.
#2 No religious books. We have decided this would be a good idea since we are all different and have different religious views.
#3 If you are member you must be willing to be a host. Everyone should take a turn hosting. It is fun to see what members will come up with as a treat and it is nice to not have to host every month.
#4 Try your best to complete the book. We are not overly strict about it. We understand, things come up.
Family Book Club:
#1 Don't find smutty books for fear of a awkward conversation with Mom (:
That is pretty much it. They are pretty basic. Maybe you don't want kids included. Maybe you don't want a particular author included such as Stephen King, Nicholas Spark or Stephanie Meyer. It's your club, you decide. But, make sure the rules are established early on. It seems sketchy if you are constantly telling people that "Oh, no! I can't stand her! We can't ever read her books." Or "No, lets not do it this way." Discuss things. Listen to other peoples opinion and if something isn't working then be willing to change ideas when the majority feels it is the right decision.
My favorite part about book club is how creative or how laid back it can be. It can be as extravagant as basing your food around the book or ordering take out.
Our friend group has tried 3 different ways and I feel we finally have found one we can all agree upon. I describe all 3 and tell you the pros and cons to each.
#1 The host of the month will pick 3 books prior to the meeting. Each member gets a minute or two to go over the synopsis of each book and a vote is taken to see which book will be the winner.
Pro: Every couple of months you get to decide what books to read. It was fun to see what types of books other members enjoyed.
Con: It was not fun to read some types of book other members would choose. I am thinking of a particular member that loved classical books. I am not into that. Those months were rough.
Also, the other 2 books that were not chosen were never heard of again. I feel we missed out on some good reads.
#2 Write down all types of book genres. Add them to a bowl. Each month pick a genre and the host will pick a book from that genre.
Pro: Broadened our horizons and forced us to read out of our comfort zone.The members and I were not too thrilled about the science fiction month. Surprise! We really enjoyed the book.
Con: Not enjoying the genre whatsoever and forcing yourself to read books you don't enjoy. Book Club should be fun and reading shouldn't feel like torture.
#3 Each month each member brings a book title they are interested in reading. Add the choice to a bowl/vase/goblet (picture goblet of fire from Harry Potter) and choose out of the vase monthly.
Pro: Eventually you will get a book of your choice.
Con: Might run into the whole not liking what "Sarah" usually reads.
We are doing #3 right now and we have found it to be the best option for us, although we are always opened to new ideas and ways of doing things.
What do you discuss?
Sometimes we run into a book that we really can't muster a whole hour of deep meaningful discussion. "The book sucked!", is the best way to sum it up sometimes. I have found a couple of things that have helped me in this department.
#1 Book Journals
I have one. It is very helpful. After each book I finish reading, I write a couple of thoughts, some meaningful/pivotal moments from the book. Sometimes there are books that have a large amount of characters and I have found it a good idea to write down their names since I am reading so many books in between book club meetings. I have found that when I write thoughts down I can remember them better at the meeting. Being prepared with topics to bring up is important. Reading Journals are relatively inexpensive. You can find them here and here. I bought this one for only $11 but it is now only $6. Lucky for you (:
#2 Conversation Cards. I bought a pack a couple of months ago. I have been hesitant to use them because I have found that I feel beyond dorky with them. After some persuasion from the members, we finally whipped them out the other night and I am really glad we did. I handed each member a card and we discussed each question. The questions brought up a lot of good subjects in regards to the current read and helped us to understand why we didn't like the book as much as we were hoping to. I bought my cards from a boutique for $25. I have been looking online and it appears that Table Topics and Amazon are not selling them right now. I bet you could find them at gift shop or book store though. I have seen them a couple of times.
Conversation Cards are a really great idea for groups that have 1 or 2 quiet members. It helps everyone to have a chance to voice their opinion. They were worth every penny.
Hopefully this was helpful for those of you wanting to join/start a book club. I have been involved in a group for about 3 years and I hope to always be involved in a discussion group. It has helped me to respect other peoples opinions/ideas and it has also broadened my choice of books.
What do you do at your book club? What has worked and not worked for your group? Do you have any fun recipes to offer up to me? I love your comments!