Thursday, May 12, 2016

10 Do's and Don'ts for a Happy Book Club



Book club - Amazon Book reviewMaybe you want to launch a book club but don't know where to begin. Or maybe your book club opened strong but excitement has waned. Here are ten tips to start—or jump-start—your book club.

 

  1. Do use the first meeting to lay out the ground rules. It's fine if you want a book club that's more about sipping wine than reading; just make sure that all members are on the same page about the reading expectations. Now is also the time to decide as a group how you're picking the books, how often you want to meet, and where you're meeting.

 

  1. Don't be a dictator. There's a line between being in charge and being bossy; try not to step over it. If you find yourself picking all the books and inviting all the new members, take a step back to consider whether you're in danger of smothering your club. At the next meeting, ask members if they want the club to operate differently.

 

  1. Do reward the regular readers. If you belong to a book club that spends only five minutes on the book because most people didn't read past the first 100 pages (if that), set up a system for rewarding the members who do complete the book. Some examples: a bottle of wine for the person/people who read every book five months in a row, or if you finish all the books three months in a row, you get to pick the next book selection.

 

  1. Don't lose momentum. If you let too much time go by between meetings, the club's enthusiasm can wane (and eager readers might forget book details). Try to meet at least once every two months. If you're having trouble scheduling a large group of people, try using Doodle. It's far easier than a tangled email chain.

 

  1. Do read outside your comfort zone. Pick a theme everyone wants to explore (say, food memoirs) and read several in a row. Or expand into areas you haven't read in a long time—perhaps poetry, graphic novels, or middle grade books—to get a dose of new material and new excitement.

 

  1. Don't assume book clubs are just for gals. A book club with a mix of men and women tends to read a wider range of books because different people contribute different interests. All three book clubs I've been in included men, and now I wouldn't join a club that didn't have them.

 

  1. Be open to change. Perhaps the way books are picked is not working for your members. Perhaps the club size is too big or too small. Perhaps members feel like they don't have enough time to read between meetings. A book club is supposed to be fun, not a grueling reading workout. Adjust on the fly and communicate clearly.

 

  1. Don't let one person sink your whole club. The problem I've seen most often is a member who doesn't read the books and steers the conversation away from the books as quickly as possible. Have a private discussion with the member and ask if the book selection isn't to his or her taste.

 

  1. Do bring in new members. One of the book clubs I was in lasted seven years and had many people rotate in and out—and I made a number of great new friends through that club. Let the other club members know that they can and should recruit their friends to join.

 

  1. Don't get discouraged if your club fizzles away. People get busy, you might have read a few stinkers in a row, or the club members aren't meshing. Put your book club "on a break" and decide whether you want to tweak the club you have, take a year off to rebuild your own enthusiasm, or start a brand-new book club.

 

 Most important: Have fun! There are few things as joyful as sharing a good book with friends.

 

Adrian Liang has started three book clubs on two different coasts. Her current club focuses on food and travel books and most recently read Jacques Pepin's memoir, The Apprentice.

Portions of this article were previously posted on SheKnows and Bustle.

 

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