Book Club Basics

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Reading a book is a singular pleasure. Sharing a book amongst friends is a joy. Discussing whether or not the book was good is a downright guilty pleasure! So instead of walking the literary path alone, invite some of your friends together and host a book club. It is easier than you think. All it takes is some paper and pens to make your book club memorable:

When and how often? One can be tempted to host a book group once a month, it is a common mistake. While a month sounds like plenty of time to read a book and meet, chances are, you will need longer. It is better to host one every six to eight weeks. The time frame is more manageable.

And it is best to not require a book be read between Halloween and New Year’s, the months of November and December are filled with social obligations so finding time to read a book is difficult. That works out to about five or six dates a year, not including November and December. We have a great suggestion for the holidays further on.

Save the dates: Print out, in a fun bookmark format, future dates for meeting and pass it out to your prospective club members when you invite them. This way members can note the times in their own calendars. Giving out advanced dates isn’t just for convenience. It also helps book club members who can’t make every meeting know when the next one will be. Include a phone number or email as well, so when a member misses one meeting, they can find out what book is up next.

Choosing the books: Getting a group of people together and having everyone agree on what to read is rare. So, when choosing a book, take the drama out of it. How do you do this? With paper, of course.

At the end of every meeting, have each member write down a book they would like to read on a piece of paper and have them fold it up twice, that way no one can see the title. Place all the suggestions together and mix them up. Have one of the guests choose one. If the person who suggested wants to discuss why they picked it, great! But if they don’t they can keep it anonymous. That is the title, no ifs, ands or buts.

Get the discussion started: More often than not, the discussion will take care of itself. But for those times when there are pauses create discussion cards. At the beginning of the meeting, have everyone write down some thoughts on the book. It could be anything. What three words would they use to describe the book? Was there something they absolutely loved? Hated? Was there a favorite character? Who would they cast in a movie version of the book? Pull out a card at the first awkward pause.

A book club meeting for the holidays: Think of it as white elephant gift exchange meets a blind date. When hosting a holiday book group, instead of discussing a particular book, exchange them. Request members to bring a book of their own choosing to give. But instead of gift wrapping, have them wrap it in plain paper, tie a raffia bow on it and have them write in a few sentences on what the book is about. Place them all in a large gift bag. One by one, members can take a book out and decide to keep it or exchange for another members’ book based on the description.

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