Hello Hello all,
I recently joined a Book Club and we had our very first gathering a few days ago. I’ll admit it – I’m a book nerd. But to my surprise, I found myself surrounded by tons of women who were, conceptually and literally, anti-book nerds. They were beautiful and smart and funny and…SOCIAL. And there were A LOT of them. Needless to say, I had a fabulous time. As I left the party (believe me, I can call it that), I took time to reflect on the reasons this book club rocked my socks off. Lo and behold, I came up with some tips on how to start a successful Book Club:
1. Include a diverse group of members. When you are establishing your core member group, don’t limit yourself to the people you know. Encourage people to bring friends and relatives to the group, and even consider advertising at local places of business, college campuses, schools, gyms, etc. Online networking is also a great way to find new members. Advertising in a multitude of places will encourage people of different backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints. Not one person in our book club knew everyone else there, so it was great way to meet some awesome new people.
2. Establish ground rules. Get together with your potential book club members and set the group’s ground rules. Be sure to include everyone’s input. The ground rules should include how books are chosen, who hosts, who leads discussions and what kind of commitment is expected.
3. Use themes. Themes can keep the book club fresh and exciting. In our Book Club, we are reading only books that have been made into films. One month, we meet to discuss the book. The next month, we meet and screen the movie, then discuss the differences. Other theme ideas include: reading books only from the best sellers list, classics, mysteries, romance, etc. You might consider reading classics one year, a series (i.e. Harry Potter) the next year, and so on.
4. Alternate Locations. If some of the members have to travel great distances, membership may drop. Taking turns hosting each month eliminates favoring one location over another, and keeps each meeting unique. Have volunteers agree to host one meeting a year. Or, pick a public place that’s central to everyone in the group, such as a library or coffee house.
5. Use food to enhance the reading. The host should always provide some kind of food for his or her guests, to curb hunger and make them more comfortable, whether it’s light snacks, heavy hors d’ourves, a full dinner or just dessert. I’m a big fan of themes, so why not theme your food to the book you are discussing? If you’re reading Charles Dickens, serve some tea and biscuits. Or if you’re in the middle of Eat, Pray, Love, make the best pizza you ever have an your guests will be delighted.
6. Use Wine to enhance the discussion. This may be the most important tip on the list. Providing alcohol will indefinitely keep the discussion lively, uninhibited and more interesting than you could imagine. The first rule in our book club? Everyone brings a bottle of wine. The 2nd rule of our book club? Everyone brings a bottle of wine. I think you get the point…
7. Keep it social. Make sure you balance book discussion with socializing. In order to ensure members continue to return each month, you’ll want to make the book club the highlight of their social calendar! If the conversation is too focused on the book analysis, some may start to get sharp pangs from painful memories of high school, and be afraid to come back.
8. Keep it simple. Similar to the former, beware not to scare your members away with books choices that are too long or too arduous to tackle. Start out slow and simple, and gauge the group’s response and schedule. Again, the point of the book club is to be FUN, so make sure it doesn’t become a hassle or obligation.
HAVE FUN starting your book club!! And remember to share with me YOUR special secrets on keeping it cool. Everyone knows I need all the help I can get!
By the way, with the last comment…..I was just kidding….
All for now,