Interested in starting a book club in 2014? How vintage of you!
It may seem like book clubs are a relic of another era, but that’s half of what makes them cool, right? The major benefits of a book club – socializing, engaging conversation, and extra motivation to tackle that list of books you’ve been meaning to read…all still apply in 2014. So if you’re itching to spice up your literary life with a book club, read on for our best advice.
What Do You Want?
Before you involve anyone else in the process, you want to think about your desire for starting this group. What exactly are you hoping to get out of it? Do you simply want to spend more time with your friends? Are you looking for more stimulating social activities? Is this for fun or to further your career? Knowing what you want to get out of it will help you determine your logistics, topic, and members.
A book club that’s mostly for fun and socializing might want to meet at a bar or a cute cafe, or even rotate potlucks at the member’s houses. A book club that focuses on business books and furthering your career might want a conference room setting. What you desire out of the book club will also determine who you decide to ask to join. It could be your three closest girlfriends – or you could reach out to all the up-and-coming people in your industry that you’d like to connect with.
Take some time to imagine the best possible scenario for your group. What are you wearing? Who are you with? Where are you? What are you reading? This will help you create something that you love rather than something that ends up feeling like another obligation!
Choose a theme or a develop a system
Groups work when the members have a common goal and there is a clear way of operating. Depending on your preferences and the feelings of the people in the group, you’ll want to organize in one of two ways. I recommend either choosing a theme for your group or developing a system.
1. Choosing a Theme
Choosing a theme means focusing your book choices around a genre or subject. Romance novels. Beach reads. Career Boosters. Social Science. Biography. Memoir. Vampire Novels. Self-Help. Dystopia novels. Computer manuals. Mysteries. Dan Brown books. The Harry Potter Series. Books with the word “Love” in the title. There are so many genres and themes to choose from! Choosing a theme makes selecting the books you read easier and gives a common thread to your discussions. You can not only discuss within one book, but compare the books you’ve read and dive deep into your favorite genre. If you go this route, your group may be small so that you’re including only people who are super interested in your theme.
You can also use My BookClub to start a book club that looks for people in your area who are interested in joining your book club. If you’re the only person you know into your theme and want to meet others like you, this could be a great option!
2. Developing a System
If you are more interested in bringing together a group of friends that aren’t necessarily attached to one genre – consider developing a system. An easy one is that each member gets assigned a month and they get to choose the book for that month (or longer, depending on the length). You could also have your members contribute two titles of books they’d like to read at the first meeting and then you draw what you’ll read out of a hat filled with those suggestions. As you might guess, this can be tricky depending on how diverse your group’s interests are. Even if you don’t want a theme, it may be a good idea to give some sort of guideline – like deciding whether your book club is for fiction or non-fiction.
Invite Your Members
Brainstorm a list of 8-12 people you think might be interested in joining your group and invite them by email, phone, or in person. Give them your basic ideas for the group – where you’ll meet, how often you’ll meet, what type of books you’ll be reading, etc. You can either set a date and time for the first meeting in your initial email and see who can make it – or you can create a profile on doodle. You list a series of times that you are available and send your invitees to a link where they can show their availability out of the dates you’ve provided. Hopefully, you’ll find a time that works for everyone. Using this tool will give you a pretty good idea of the nights that people are generally available.
Have Your First Meeting
You’ve got a date, place, and time set along with a few interested folks – awesome! If you want to go ahead and pick the first book, let the interested parties know what it is and advise them to purchase a copy and read the first chapter before your meeting. Some of your first meeting will be about logistics and catching up (like agreeing to meet every other Monday at 8pm at the Starbucks on Waverly, for example!) – so keep the reading assignment light.
Good things to discuss at the beginning of a book are the meaning of the title (Based on the title, where do you think the book is going?) and history with the author (Have you read any other books by Miller? What did you think?) Do a recap of the first chapter to make sure everyone’s on the same page (no pun intended!) and set the amount to be read by the next meeting. Remember – this isn’t school! You’re allowed to talk about books and not feel like you’re in an 11th grade English class. Adult readers more often than not want to relate the characters and plot lines to experiences they’ve had in their own lives, pull personal meaning from the story, or talk about what a certain passage made them think about. They aren’t necessarily interested in analyzing the use of alliteration on page 4, paragraph 2.
Stay Connected Online?
You may want to add an online component to your book club or you may want to keep it away from the internet at all costs! Again, this depends on your desired scenario for the group and/or what your group decides on. Keeping up through a Facebook Group could be a fun way to stay connected in-between meetings (just watch out for posting spoilers!)
Alternatively, you may want to skip all the organizing and commuting and join an online book club! You can find them at GoodReads, BookTalk, and a slew of other websites. Just search for the genre book club your interested in and you’ll probably find something!
Take action! Tell us in the comments what kind of book club you want to create!
Final Thoughts: As great as it is to read a book someone else wrote, wouldn’t you love to write a book of your own? StoryShelter lets you answer questions about your life and we are excited to say we will soon let our users take all the stories they’ve written and create a custom keepsake from their stories! Feeling the desire to publish? We will also soon have a feature that will let you export all of your stories so that you can have a ton of great chapters to include in your autobiography!