Starting your own book club does require some energy and time setting up but promises to be a beautiful adventure worth all the troubles you might endure along the way. To help you start on this book-loving journey, here is everything you need to know on how to start a book club.
When looking at how to start a book club, begin with the basics, the name. You don't have to give your book club a name, but having one gives it an identity, and people relate to it better. When selecting on a name, go with something quirky and memorable that is bookish but also speaks of your individuality.
Unless you have a name in mind already, don't rush into it. Take your time, and in fact, open up the floor to your book club members, so that they too can suggest names. It's a wonderful exercise to break the ice during your first book club meeting.
Technology has made it relatively simple for book lovers to mingle with each other. As a result, when looking at how to start a book club, you need to decide if your group will meet virtually or in person.
Virtual book clubs, be it on Facebook or Twitter, have the advantage of being global in their reach. They require less involvement and are easier to manage. But virtual book clubs can be less personal, and it becomes difficult to go in-depth when discussing novels. Unless that is, you join What Should I Read Next with our extensive collection of chats where book lovers can socialize with each other and with authors through AMAs and exclusive talks.
For the purpose of this article, we will stick with book clubs in the physical world. Admittedly, they require a lot more management and planning, but also provide readers with a chance to make friends with fellow bibliophiles in real life, exchange novels and recommendations, and have detailed discussions about the books they love, over coffee and cake.
It is okay to be selective when deciding on who to invite to your book club, especially in the beginning. For a book meet to take off successfully, members must have similar tastes and get along with each other. Therefore, it is advisable to hold off on calling unknown book lovers until after a few meets, by then you will have every aspect of the club chalked out.
Once you know the type of book club you want, the next step is to choose how you prefer to operate it. The classic book club consists of everyone reading the same book and then meeting to examine different aspects of the novel. It permits a comprehensive analysis of the book, its plot, characters, and allows members to understand what the story means to different people.
A more contemporary club is one where each member brings a book of their choice and talks about it for a short time. While it doesn't involve much debate and discussion, this form of a book club is perfect for picking up excellent book recommendations.
It is important to have a set of rules in place for the smooth functioning of a book club. These can include the number of times a member can skip a meet and no usage of phones during discussions to taking turns while talking and avoiding political or religious comments.
Make sure you print and email these guidelines to all the members in advance and keep a check on the same during the meetings. It is also advisable to have a small committee within the group who can decide on the action required in case of any significant rule breaks.
To maximize participation, you must choose a location for your book club that is easily accessible, especially via public transport. Furthermore, it should be a relatively quiet place and with ample space to sit comfortably.
You'll find several bookstore cafes are excellent for hosting events, or else, some libraries have rooms that members can reserve for meets. A lot of book clubs also take place in homes, which creates a friendlier environment, especially if you have a small group.
Remember, it is not always viable to accommodate everyone when picking a date and a time for your meetings. The trick is to not get too bothered by it and just start. You can always change the timings after a few sessions if required.
Depending on your group's genre preferences, there is always the possibility of having a themed book club. Be it romance, murder mysteries, thrillers, memoirs, travel books, or YA novels, themes can keep discussions straightforward and improve participation if everyone has a liking for them.
In contrast, an open-themed book club provides for unique ideas to flow as there is something new every month. As the genres change, members get to challenge their reading preferences that can often lead to new discoveries and favorites.
A little bit of order can go a long way in hosting a well-organized book club. When planning on how to start your book club, start making points on how you want to structure the sessions. Depending on the size of your club, a typical meeting can last anywhere from an hour to a couple of hours or more. However, to keep things interesting, plan it out in such a manner that everyone gets time to interact as well as discuss books.
You can start with a 15-minute introduction session, followed by discussing the book of the month for a designated time. The meeting can end with a casual talk about next month's book, management issues, and some drinks and snacks over which members can mingle freely.
Part of planning the meet should also include having a discussion guide ready beforehand. The guide consists of questions regarding the book that can help conversations move in the right direction as well as cover aspects of the story others might have missed.
Even if starting a book club was your idea, it is best to adopt a democratic selection process when it comes to picking up the monthly reads. One possibility is to let one member select a book, and keep going until all have had a chance.
Another is to choose a set of five books and end your meeting by having a poll. The book with the maximum votes gets to be the next book club read. The main aim is to come up with a system that lets everyone become a part of book selection, guaranteeing better long-term participation.
An important part of running a book club is to remember that there will be different types of readers joining it. Therefore, when planning your initial few meets, start with books that are light reads and cover a diverse set of genres.
After a few meetings, once you have a general sense of what everyone likes and is capable of discussing, book selection can be more specific and consist of everything from literary classics to the latest bestsellers.
Books are adored by readers from all walks of life. When learning how to start a book club, keep in mind that your members will have distinct economic backgrounds and might not be technologically savvy enough to order books online.
Therefore, it is necessary to choose books that are readily available in the market and moderately priced to suit all budgets. There is also the possibility to appoint one person and make them responsible for the procurement of books.
Surprisingly, there are a few opportunities through which you can be assured of an endless supply of books from the very beginning. The best option is to approach a nearby independent bookshop and collaborate with them for all your bookish needs. If that is not likely, you can order online in bulk, and possibly receive better discounts.
If your book club is small and consists of members who are okay with leaving reviews, everyone can join services such as NetGalley, Edelweiss, and BookSirens to get advance reader copies of upcoming titles. However, these websites do have a fixed quota per book, and it might work best if you select novels that are open to everyone.
From the start, your aim for the book club should be to create a known brand. We will talk about this below. However, having a brand makes your book club stand out and visible to authors and publishers, who are more than happy to send copies of new releases for meetings, either free or at discounted prices.
Book clubs work best when more people are involved in the activities. Not only does it help with month-to-month tasks associated with the club's smooth functioning, it also gives every member a reason to feel good about being a part of the community. This can be easily achieved by dividing tasks such as procurement of books, food and drinks, emailing, and financials amongst various club members.
A book meet doesn't always have to be about analyzing the books you read. For a club to succeed over time, think of engaging book-related activities that members can partake in occasionally. You can have a costume contest one time where everyone comes dressed up as their favorite book character. Else, invite authors to talk about their books or on topics like how to write a book. The idea is to keep the meetings exciting with the right amount of bookish fun.
Munching on yummy snacks and sipping on a comforting drink does go hand-in-hand with reading a beloved book. Still, when hosting a book club, it is best to have some set rules on eating and drinking.
Avoid plating snacks until after the group discussion is over. The last thing you want is to have people talk with mouths full of food. Non-alcoholic drinks, such as coffee and tea, are fine from the start. However, once again, wine is best savored after you are done with the formalities of the meeting, and interactions are more casual.
Branding is everything these days, and irrespective of whether you are running an international book club or a small, homegrown one, having an identity can be a source of pride for everyone involved.
Therefore, when looking at how to start a book club, your plan should include giving your group long-term credibility. For that, you can have an online blog where members can occasionally post reviews of the books you have read. It can also consist of updates about who you are, how you operate, and when you meet, for non-member book lovers to gather information.
Moreover, social media is another fantastic option to take your book club global. Create an Instagram account and share photos from your meets. Similarly, a Facebook page can come in handy to keep discussions ongoing after you have met. It also allows members who might have missed out on attending the book club to easily participate in conversations.
Starting a book club is an excellent opportunity to interact with other bibliophiles, but it does require a fair amount of preparation and time. However, all the energy you put in is rewarded with insightful discussions, new friends, and a whole lot of positive bookish karma.