Does reading have to be a solitary and personal experience? The quiet and peacefulness that accompanies reading is part of what draws me to a new book but discovering a great book does not have to be individualistic. Book Clubs are a great way to find new genres to read and also a great way to find new friends who share your passion for literature.
Do you have a book club that you are already apart of and have advice to share with those looking? In all honestly I can say that I have not participated in very many book clubs. Because I did a minor in English in University, it often felt like all of my classes were large group book clubs. I remember being amazed in my first English course how my opinion of a book could be so different from someone else’s. Every person in my class had their own feelings about the plot, characters, resolution and even the writing style of the books we read. At first it upset me and left me feeling frustrated; I might have absolutely hated an ending and someone else liked it (sometimes even the professor) but after a while I realized that other people’s interpretations of literature can help you broaden your own worldview. If this wasn’t the case then group analysis of books would not be as beneficial or widespread. Canadian Living discusses 10 benefits of being a part of book club:
- Intellectual stimulation
- New books and new people
- A break from everyday life
- The freedom to be honest
- Lifetime connections
- Spending time with other women (men)
- A welcome space for strangers
I think all of these reasons are valid and helpful. I know many people who would LOVE to join a book club but do not know where to find information on some or the knowledge of how to start one up themselves.
So have I convinced you and you have decided that a book club is what you need? You might want to do a bit of research before joining just any book club and/or announcing to all of your friends that you are starting up your own. Here are some of the questions you might want to ask yourself before starting up a book club:
What will be the theme, genre, style
- What types of books are you interested in? Are your friends that you want to ask to be apart of your book club interested in the same types of books as you or will you be flexible? If you only read Historical Fiction or Sci-Fi books you might bore everyone after book #2. I would recommend having some kind of book guide to help you choose your titles (ie. reading Canada Reads Longlist or Hot and New Fiction lists from Amazon & Chapters/Indigo, or only New Canadian Authors)
Make some (new) friends
- Give word to your existing friends that you are starting up a book club and what type of books you will be reading. Let them know that if they aren’t interested to share the word. You probably want between 5 and 15 people in your club but that doesn’t mean those have to be people you are already connected with. This is a great time to make some new friends outside of your regular social bubble.
Set some guidelines
- Pick a location, doesn’t have to be your own home. You might decide to meet at a different person’s house each week or to take the pressure off trying to have a clean house you could choose a quiet coffee shop or library to meet. Meeting outside of the home also checks off the “A break from everyday life” benefit of a book club. Pick a time to meet that works for most of the people you hope to have attend (ie. after bedtime or on a weekend). Pick a duration. Nobody likes to go to stuff that they are expecting to be 1 hr long only to find themselves stuck for 2+ hrs. Just give an idea of how long you plan for each meeting to be so that people know what to expect.
Pick a Co-Leader(s)
- You do not want to be the only person picking the books for your book club, for many reasons. Good co-leaders can help you keep up on what other people would like to read (this may not coincide with your own opinion). They can also take the reins if and when you miss a meeting. Everyone has their own talents and yours might not be social media or keeping up on emails. Pick some friends to be co-leaders that are reliable and maybe fill a few of the gaps in your own abilities.
Keep a record
- Social media is great at helping with this. You could open up a free blog (wordpress.com) or have a Facebook group for your book club. That way you can let everyone know where and when you are meeting and maybe even keep notes and write down ideas. Want to be apart of an ONLINE ONLY book club? You might think that is weird but it is actually pretty common. You can find book clubs online for just about any interest or genre or author. Goodreads Groups is great for this and it will even send you emails when someone comments on a thread or makes a new post in the book club you choose to follow.
For those local to me in Alberta, the Leduc Public Library offers a book club in the evening on the third Wednesday of every month (http://leduclibrary.ca/content/spring-adult-programs-registered). They even offer a writing club if you are looking to get some creative juices flowing.
For some book reading guides and to follow other book club ideas this is a great website too: http://www.readinggroupguides.com
I’d love to hear about your book clubs and what you are reading and how you decided on your book lists!