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Starting a Book Club: Chapter and Verse
Reading is usually a solitary activity. But talking about books is not – hence the origin of the book club. The website litlovers.com suggests you start with these questions:
What kind of club? Do you want your club to be social and light, or do you want a club that is more scholarly? Deciding where you want to be on the social-to-scholarly spectrum informs everything else, from the people you invite to the books you choose.
What genre(s)? You can focus on one type of book, such as mysteries or non-fiction or sci-fi, or you can read various genres. Either way, make sure you include both serious works and lighter ones. At your first meeting – or before – your club should come up with a plan for choosing books that ensures that everyone’s likes and dislikes are respected.
Who should join? Start with two or three friends you know love to read, and ask each of them to invite a couple of people. Litlovers suggests a total of eight to 16 members; that way you can still have a discussion if some people can’t make it, but you won’t have too many if everyone shows up.
You can focus on people in the same age group, or you can include people of different ages. Having different ages can bring different perspectives, but it also can make it harder to choose books and to schedule meetings. Find people with similar reading styles. Don’t have some members who read a couple of books a week, for example, and others who read a couple of books a year.
Once you have some members, you can move on to:
How often to meet. Monthly is frequent enough to keep members engaged while giving them time to finish the book. Then choose a day and time that works best for most members. For example, you might need to accommodate busy work or travel schedules. Some clubs decide not to meet during certain periods such as summer or the holidays.
Where to meet. Many clubs rotate meetings among the homes of members. But you also can meet at a public place, such as a library, restaurant or coffee shop. Either way, someone should act as host for each meeting, starting the discussion and making any arrangements necessary.
What to eat. Including refreshments can help encourage attendance – and it is fun. Some clubs take an ambitious approach, such as basing the food on the book. Others are simpler, ranging from coffee and cookies to wine and chocolate. You can have the host provide the food, or you can have everyone bring something.
What to call yourselves. Giving your club a name makes it seem more official and builds a stronger sense of community.
Finally, consider giving back. Some book clubs, for example, raise funds for book-related causes such as libraries. Others might collect books for underprivileged children or volunteer to read to kids at a local school. It can be a good way to share your love of reading.