So you want to start a book club?

It has been a hot minute since my last blog post (341 days to be exact). Life has been pretty heavy lately so I’ve decided to ‘choose joy’ & focus some of my energy on writing again.

One of my biggest hobbies (especially in 2020) is curling up with a new book & getting lost in a story. Since 2014, I’ve been a part of a book club and it has honestly been one of my life’s greatest treasures. I’ve cultivated tremendous friendships, read books I would have otherwise never considered, & supported every local eatery along the way πŸ™‚

If you’ve ever been slightly curious about how to go about starting your own book club, here are my best tips!

#1: Establish a virtual space

Yes, I know you are probably already in 101 other Facebook groups right now, but listen: your book club needs a Facebook group. When my friend Nicole started our book club in January 2014, she created a small little Facebook group and invited a few of her closest friends & co-workers. Establishing a virtual space to keep all things book club related is a smart idea. We use our group to choose the next book, discuss location/date of our meetings, and plan other fun book club events (*see my bonus tip below*). Creating a FB group also allows you to easily invite new members to check out your book club.

#2: Book Choice

I’ve read a lot about different book club set ups & they can all vary quite a bit. Some book clubs choose a ‘theme’ for the year or have a predetermined list of books that they will read. I love my book club because I’ve never once felt that we were stuck in a certain genre. Our philosophy has always been that the host chooses 3 or 4 books and the group votes on which one they’d like to read. On rare occasions the host has just picked the book outright, but our preferred method of choice is to vote!

#3: Time & Location

Once you’ve established the book choice, think about picking a date/time + location for your meeting. We prefer to put up a poll in our Facebook group to find the best time for everyone (or at least the majority).

When it comes to location, spice it up! I highly recommend switching up book club venues often.

  • Dine at a local restaurant
  • Cozy up in the host’s living room
  • Meet at a quaint coffee shop
  • Find an open spot at a park & have a picnic (bonus points if food trucks are involved)

#4: Discussion Points

Despite popular belief, our book club actually discusses the book. I know, crazy right?! Yes, we do love a good bottle of wine and pitchers of blood orange mimosas, but we also enjoy sharing our thoughts & opinions with one another. When it comes to discussion points, here are a few things to try:

  • A lot of books these days have discussion questions either included in the back of the book or guides that are easily accessible online
  • Have members come up with one question they’d like to ask the group–put it on a sticky note, toss it in a bag, and pull out questions at random.
  • Do you picture your book becoming a full length feature film? Write down which actor/actress you’d want to play each of the main characters. Have the host save the lists & maybe years down the road you’ll have predicted the cast!
  • Share connections you made with the book: either personal or with other texts.
  • How did the book rate? We always share a 1-5 rating at the end.

#5: Just keep going

Your biggest challenge will likely be how to keep your book club going. It’s easy for people to get busy & caught up in the daily grind. If you can establish the next host at the end of each meeting, it will go a long way! We have a core group of 5 or 6 of us who rotate turns hosting: any new members who join us get the chance to host next (if they want).

Within a few days after your meeting, have the next host pick (or vote on) the next book & throw out a general timeline of the next meet-up. If you can get into this habit, it will help you to keep the momentum going!

*Bonus Tips*

The five tips that I’ve included above are a great place to start if you are wanting to begin your own book club. If you happen to already be a book club member, here are some additional ideas for taking your group to a whole new level πŸ™‚

  • Plan a movie date together — It seems like every other movie being released is based on a popular novel. If you’ve read it in book club, go see the movie! One of the first books we ever read was Gone Girl, so it was extra special to watch that madness go down on the big screen together.
  • Don’t be afraid to try personal development — While most of our selections have been fiction, we’ve also dived into the world of personal development together. I’m a super big fan of this genre & it was extra special to read a book like Girl, Wash Your Face with some of my favorite ladies. I even hosted a Made for More movie night at my house complete with personalized notebooks, pens, & White Claws for all πŸ™‚
  • Reach out to the author, you never know what they can offer you — A few years back we read an amazing book called Maude. The host got in touch with the author and she actually called us during our meeting & did her own little book talk with us. That was probably one of my favorite book club moments by far!
  • Local library author talks — On a similar note, we’ve found authors who have scheduled visits to local libraries and chosen our selection based on the opportunity to meet them. In 2014 we read Finding Amy by Kate Flora and participated in her book talk (complete with a group photo at the end).
  • And sometimes you might have a friend with a celebrity connection….. — My friend Nicole, who started our book club, is the niece of Patrick Dempsey. At our very first book club meeting , we read The Art of Racing in the Rain and got to talk to “Uncle Pat” about the Hollywood side of making a book into a movie. Yeah, she set the bar REAL high for the rest of our meetings πŸ™‚
  • Get on Goodreads — If you don’t already have the Goodreads app, go download it STAT! Most of us use it to keep track of books we want to read, our progress on current books, and it’s a great way to keep tabs on who is reading the book club pick.

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