Alright, ladies and gentlemen, today we are going to share with you some of our deepest trade secrets and most prized information. Sarah and I are part of an enviable book club known as Booze & Books (can you tell we like alliteration around here?). About every other month (sometimes once a month), our closest friends get together and have a themed book club party.
Our book club started four years ago as a way to combine friends and throw more theme parties–my ladies love a good theme. Post-college, I also honestly just missed reading books with other people, so I figured I would just attempt to make all my friends read with me–it worked out pretty well 🙂 Our group of friends loves planning and crafting and reading, so it just made sense to start a book club and put our talents to work. We are a pretty intense and fun-loving group of ladies, and we tend to have a “go big or go home” mentality for pretty much all of our gatherings. Our book clubs are no exception.
This week we will be celebrating book clubs, and we will offer advice on how to start your own book club. Today we will be giving you the essential considerations that you need to establish a functional and fun-loving book club.
The Essentials to Starting a Book Club
1. Who wants to be in the club?:
Setting a good foundation of readers.
My book club ladies are my life. We are a fortunate group of people, and honestly pretty selective for who we let into our club. Perhaps that makes us a bit elitist, but I really think you need to be able to trust the people in any group dynamic. Our book club has had an immense impact on all of our lives. All of us went to college together and most of us played rugby together there, but it wasn’t until we started meeting regularly as a book club that all our friendships were really solidified. Eventually these ladies turned into my best friends and my greatest support system. Honestly, I don’t believe I could have made it through our twenties without these hilarious, beautiful, intelligent women in my life. I love you guys 🙂
Alright, enough gushing. The big take away here is make sure that you really think about who is in the club: Do you trust them? Will they read? Will they get into it like you will? Don’t just settle for anyone because you want the numbers. Having a small group of good readers and good friends will be much more fun than a large group of strangers who have dissimilar mind-sets and commitment levels.
2. Which book should we read?:
Handling the selection of your books.
One of the major things is figuring out your book club’s tastes. Some groups theme their club: strictly romance novels, only classics, only non-fiction, only female authors, only best-sellers, etc. We honestly just did some experimentation in order to figure out what we would actually read. There were some books that none of us could really get into, so that month we had a little less discussion and a lot more wine. In general, our Booze & Books girls like YA Fiction and memoirs best. Both genres tend to be easy to read for most of us in about a week’s time (sometimes just one night’s time if the book is REALLY good).
There are a lot of ways to go about selecting your books. We tend to simply ask for recommendations from the group, and try to be fair–if someone picked last month’s book we will go with another person’s book for the next month. Some people never recommend a book, some people read more often so they tend to recommend more. We usually do a poll on which book to do in our Facebook group and message feed that we use for Book Club. To find some inspiration, try looking at book lists, Goodreads, or some book reviews. Check out some of our reviews below for some inspiration!
- Borne Back Ceaselessly: My Favorite Book
- Nothing Ever Truly Dies- Why Deathless Is My Favorite
- Book Review: 13 Reasons Why
3. Did you finish the book?:
Handling the guilt of not reading.
We all have busy lives and if your club meets often, you will find people will have a difficult time reading every single book every time. Sometimes it is lack of interest in the actual book, and sometimes members just run out of time. It will be up to you how you handle people who do not read the book.
We have a pretty lax policy, but most of us finish 75% of the books that we assign, or at least eventually finish the books. Many times we will have people only able to finish the first half of the book,and then they are still able to participate in the discussion. For our book club, it is far more about getting together and having a good time, so we tend not to worry too much about page count. Some book clubs are far more stringent and have full rules including barring people from attending if they did not read the book.
4. Where should we have it?:
In terms of hosting, we attempt to switch off from each person in our seven person book club. However, if someone really wants to host a book (say it was her recommendation or she has already read the book and has some good ideas for it), we absolutely let her. I’ve heard of some book clubs letting the host choose the book and then just hosting that book. I love this idea too. You will just have to figure out if a casual or more regimented approach works for your club.
If you do host, you’ll need to make sure that you have some parameters on what it means to host the club in order to be fair. For each Booze & Book Club, the host provides a coaster as a favor (these are usually hand-crafted, and themed for the book), decorates her home in the theme for a book, and ensures that there is a place in her home for us to discuss the book. Each member, whether she is a host or not, brings a themed dish and themed drink to the party. This really works for us, but you will have to decide what is expected of each host to make sure that people don’t get resentful or feel overwhelmed with hosting.
5. What should we talk about?:
The questions I get all the time is “Do you even read the books? Don’t you just drink a bunch of wine?” Both of these are fair, legitimate questions, and, as stated earlier, if the book isn’t great, then, yes, we do partake in libations a bit more. However, we’re lucky to have some English majors and teachers in our book club, so discussion usually goes pretty well–If I can make teenagers talk about Hamlet, I can get my friends to talk about Yes, Please.
One of the best tips to having a lively discussion is keeping a reading journal or annotating your book. In terms of annotation, most of us use our phones or kindles to take notes and highlight our favorite passages for discussion. However, you can also take notes on your favorite quotes or reactions to the book using a journal. I like the idea of having one place for all of my book club musings. Doing either one of these things makes the discussion go smoothly and allows people to connect with each other and the book.
Got the basics down? Try 5 Ways to Transform Your Book Club from Boring to Brilliant.
Need recommendations? Top 5 Book Club Books from Our Booze & Book Club
Lit & Love,