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Thursday, March 26, 2015

How to Start a Book Club in 5 Easy Steps

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How to Start a Book Club in 5 Easy Steps
Every single time I talk about book club, someone says, "Oh, I would love to organize a book club...but I wouldn't know where to start." People, it isn't rocket science.  I am not a super mega event planner by any stretch of the imagination!  I have managed to organize two fantastic book clubs though.  (One is for my "grown up" friends...I use that term loosely...and the other is for a younger set of pals that enjoy middle grade books.)  No matter what age group, no matter the genre, here are a few easy guideline to keep in mind when planning your first book club:

1.  Determine how large you want your group to be.  I know some folks who have huge groups and love to mix and mingle and party en masse. I prefer a smaller group.  There are less than ten of us--and rarely are we all able to make it on any given night because life is just busy!  I treasure my time with these ladies though.  It is my favorite kind of evening:  books, something tasty, and intimate & stimulating conversation.

2.  Determine where you will meet.  My first book club meeting was hosted in my home.  We had coffee and dessert after the kids went to bed.  Super easy.  Lately we have been meeting at area restaurants, having dinner, and then discussing the book as we finish eating.  The location can be as simple or as festive as you choose--just make sure the venue is quiet enough to actually have a chance at discussion.

3.  Determine meeting frequency.  This can be tricky.  The larger the group, the larger the chance at scheduling conflicts.  Our group is relatively small, so we can mix things up pretty easily.  We take into consideration the length of the book chosen as well as holidays or other big events that might put us behind schedule.  Typically, we meet every 6-8 weeks.  It works for us.  I know larger groups meet more frequently and are much more strict with keeping on schedule.

4.  Determine how you will decide which books to read.  When we began meeting, I chose the first couple of books until we established what we liked as a group and what allowed us to have the most meaningful conversations.  After those first couple of books, though, I encouraged other members to shoot me an email with book recommendations as they came up.  I tried to work those into our rotation.  Some groups stick to a certain list.  For example, I have a Bluebonnet Book Club with my daughter and her friends that focuses on the Texas Bluebonnet List.  Other adult lists you might consider might be a genre list from Goodreads or one of the "Best of" lists from Amazon, NPR, or Huffington Post.  

5.  Decide the direction of the conversation.  Some groups probably have free conversation on like and dislikes...my group does this to some extent, but I also rely on discussion questions.  Often I am able to find excellent discussion questions online on the publisher's website, but there are those times that I have to come up with them on my own.  Occasionally I have found them on book blogs or bookstore sites.





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