About twenty years ago, a friend approached me to join a book club and I was adamantly opposed… and thennnnnn I decided to start a book club on my own!
My reasons for being adamantly opposed were I truly did not like reading back then.
Well – that’s not true… I would read People Magazine 😂.
And then my friend handed me the book The Lovely Bones.
And I could not put it down.
I had NO IDEA reading could be so enjoyable! It’s like it takes you to a different world!!!
I was an econ major in college and all reading I did back then was seriously NOT ENJOYABLE.
While that book club of my friend’s did not actually make it (that happens sometimes…), I decided to start my own book club a couple years later.
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In a rush?
Steps to Start a Book Club
Find Your Book Loving Friends
Like I said – I was adamantly opposed to joining a book club at first.
So if you have a bestie that is so determined that they would hate being in a book club – find one of those books that are literally the kind that you stay up all night long to finish because you JUST CAN’T PUT IT DOWN.
And hand it to her (or him or they!).
Tell her she can decide whether or not she would hate book club AFTER she reads that insane book you handed her!
A lot of people also like to use the excuse – I don’t have the time to read or commit to once a month meetings. My answer to that? Bulls*@t. We all have time to fit in things we love. It’s just a matter of if we MAKE the time!
This is a must read!!! But to sum it up – it is about how we need to find our collective effervescence (and spend time with others!!).
I have found the best number of members for a book club to be between 8-12.
When I started my book club back in October 2005 – there were only six of us. Which honestly – is the perfect number to start with (see below for coordinating that first meeting date!).
I can certainly tell you when all 12 of my friends are in attendance on book club night – the room gets loud! And there are lots of side conversations.
But I wouldn’t trade any of it for a more intimate smaller group 🥰.
Decide on a First Meeting Date, Place, and Time
One of the biggest reasons a book club (or any group for that matter) doesn’t make it – is there is not one person in charge of organizing.
YOU NEED AN ORGANIZER!
And one that loves that kind of thing 😂.
Although if you are reading this post – I am guessing that person is you :)!
So now that we have that figured out… it’s time to pick a first meeting date, place, and time.
And FYI – you will likely struggle to find a date that works for everyone – so just do the majority rules thing!
As far as a meeting place goes – we always do the host’s home. And that person is in charge of all the food for the group and picking the book of the month (which is usually announced at the meeting before!).
Pick the Book for the First Meeting
And here you go – the reason you are all getting together in the first place!
There is kind of a lot of pressure on the very first book choice – it has got to be one of those cannot put down kind of books so that you start right out of the gate with a bang!
I always turn to Reece Witherspoon’s Book Club for guidance when I choose my book for my month. She has literally never ever steered me wrong!
Here are some of my favorites from my group so far that would be great first meeting books (in my opinion):
- Where the Crawdads Sing
- Cartel Wives
- Before We Were Yours
- Underground Railroad
- The Woman in the Window
- The Nightingale
Set Some Group Guidelines
Here are my suggestions for good book club guidelines:
- Try to stick to a similar theme – my club almost always reads best sellers. Friends of mine used to belong to a self help books group (although tbh – that seems like A LOT of self helping if you ask me!)
- Attendance while not mandatory – CANNOT be an occasionally show up kind of thing. This really affects the bonding aspect of the members. You want the group’s relationships to all grow together – not for one or two occasional members to feel unattached to everyone else…
- Decide how the food is going to work. My group finds it best for the host to be in charge of all the food and beverage for the evening. However I have heard of some groups doing a potluck thing. Or if you meet at a restaurant – then that takes care of that!
- You will need a good way to communicate with each other – my group has tried it all – email, text, GroupMe. In the end good old fashioned texting is what works best for us. We had one member that did not have an iPhone which made our messaging rather frustrating for a year or so – but eventually she came to the dark side. I mean the fruit side 😂.
- Host needs to be prepared ahead of time with questions for the book. You can almost always just google “discussion questions for (book title)”. Or nowadays – a lot of books have the questions already at the end of the book for you! But if you cannot find questions – don’t fret – here is a list of great generic questions for you to use!
Set Up a Calendar for the Year
This is where the organizer has to take their job seriously!
When we first started out – we just kinda winged it with deciding who would host the next month’s meeting at their house.
Learn from our mistakes!
In fact – doing it this way is how some book clubs just fizzle out.
Did you know I love to plan? Anything and everything!
Okay – now that you are aware of my passion for planning… here is what I did to make sure this group of mine that I absolutely love and would be devastated if it fell apart works:
At that very first meeting you have – have a piece of paper with every month written down on it. And then pass that paper around the circle until everyone has committed to a month.
If you have more than 12 members, this will obviously be a problem. However, you can have members pair up to host together (at one of their houses that is).
I have also found that sometimes, people are just not that big of fans of hosting others at their house and that is okay too! Do not force anyone to be a host if they just do not want to be!
There are always those of us that live for hosting – so for those people – just give them more than one month to host! They will love it!
My group has been together for so long now that we all have our favorite months to host so it is just known what month is your hosting month in my group. However things come up and life changes – so if people need to switch months – it has never been a problem!
Your goal here is to just get these hosts of the month on the calendar so that no one is hmming and hawing at a meeting wondering who/what/where the next meeting is!
FYI – you do not commit to a day of that month when you are making this hosting schedule – just the month.
My group tried REALLY hard to commit to the first Friday of every month but to be honest – that just did not seem to work well for us for attendance.
We now pick the date that works best for everyone at the meeting before.
Well and obviously the best date that works for the hostess! Can’t do it without her!
I have seriously looked forward to my book club Fridays for over ten years now! It is one of my favorite days of the month!!
Our relationships have blossomed into some of the best friends in my life.
About three years ago, we started going on girls weekends together (and said – why on Earth did we wait this long to do this???!!).
I also host an annual book club Christmas book exchange (more on that in another post!) and a Galentine’s Party with these lovely ladies – you can read about that fun event here!
I cannot express enough how important having a tribe is!!
And if you got that email from me last weekend – you read the passage from an amazing email I received myself last week talking about finding your aliens! – OMG best email I think I have ever gotten!
Soooo – are you ready to start a book club???
I really hope this post was inspiring enough for you to do so – I promise you will be so happy you did!!
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~ T.S. Eliot
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Have a wonderful day my friend! I hope something makes you smile today ;).