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Book Club Beginnings

Published on: Jan 7, 2013No comments

I love book clubs because books are meant to be savored and shared, like a fine meal. The best meals are enjoyed in pleasant community, just as the best books are digested in wise company. The discussion of books is a fine appetizer and dessert.

I have created, adopted, and ran several book clubs in multiple states. I am getting ready to launch one now, in my new home of Indiana. So I thought I might share a few guidelines for starting a new book club:

Plan several months in advance and create a drop-in rule.

Requiring attendance and mandatory readings is a quick way to kill a starter group. Once readers begin attending, they will see the value of conversation and discussion and plan to stay. Some people might need a few months to plan their reading as well, especially if they aren’t a regular, avid reader.

Add liberal libations and hor d’oeuvres.

Books should be paired with food and drink, because they are in essence, a communion between readers.

Wine and bread are acceptable but cupcakes are never a bad idea. Books are meant to be devoured, as are decadent treats. And if you are stumped about what to add to the conversation, you can always hold up a finger, indicating that you are chewing and to move on to the next person.

Embrace name tags.

I am terrible with names and faces. Once you change clothes, I will forget your name once again. Having some simple sticky labels is mostly for me and my failing memory, but newcomers will appreciate the name tags as well. Adopt them for a few months at minimum.

Have discussion questions prepared in advance.

This will ease the conversation past any bumps and awkward silences. I will be adding discussion questions for many of my past, present, and future books on this site over time, including new questions from my newest book club, Reading Between the Wines.

Allow social time before and after your discussion time.

People need to get comfortable when they first arrive and a few people will invariably show up a few minutes late. Once you wrap up discussion, with a reminder about next month’s book and meeting time, you will want to encourage a few more minutes for socialization.

Encourage the wallflowers.

It can be intimidating to talk in a group, especially if you didn’t like the book or didn’t understand part of it. As a facilitator, keep an eye out for quieter participants. Make sure to include them on the conversation without putting them on the spot.

Expand your boundaries.

It’s important to read a variety of books. Some books lend themselves nicely to book club discussions. And some book clubs have favorite genres or styles (romance, spiritual themes, local authors, etc.) But consider adding one dark horse entry every so often for variety and enrichment.

What other suggestions do you have for beginning a book club? What are your best (or worse) experiences with book clubs?

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Copyright  2022 Nicole Amsler • Copywriter by day… Fiction writer by night