I couldn’t be more exited about this fun and inspiring guest post from my fellow book-lover and friend, Nicole Bennet! I LOVE book clubs, Nicole’s tips are great, and her club? Adorable!
For someone who had been devouring books since learning to read, and had enjoyed talking about books almost as much as reading them, last year was the first time I had the realization that I’d never been a part of a real, in-person book club.
I decided it was time to change that. I’d recently seen some inspiration both in real life and online, and had some ideas about what would constitute a fun, engaging group, so I made a simple plan and jumped in.
The result? It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable experience for all of us. And the takeaway? I wish I’d done this sooner!
In case some of you bookworms might be feeling the pull to gather some people who you can discuss books with, I thought I’d share the details of how I got mine started– it can be as simple or elaborate of a venture as you want it to be, and bonus: you don’t have to do all the leg work if that intimidates you.
How to Start a Book Club
The first step: choosing whom to join up with. I chose two friends at church who I often found myself discussing books with, Sarah and Susan. We happen to have pretty similar tastes in books so we had been frequently reading the same books already.
I approached both of them, and when they expressed interest, I asked them each to invite a friend if they wanted. Susan invited Hannah, and then I invited another reader friend, too, Rena. We decided to keep it fairly small, and got started.
After a couple of months, I ran into Amie, a friend I hadn’t seen in ages. She commented that she’d seen me briefly mention my new book club on my blog. Did we have room for one more? I ran it by the group, and we decided we’d love her to join us. Amie jumped in for the next book, making us six, and our group has felt like a great size.
There’s no perfect number for a book club, but we’ve found that keeping our group pretty small makes gatherings simpler and discussions have plenty of space for everyone to share their opinions.
At the end of each meeting, we draw a name of someone who hasn’t yet chosen a book. That member then gets to pick the book and host the next meeting if she wants. Easy Peasy! Sometimes we pick a book we’ve all had on our to-read list, and other times some of us end up reading something we wouldn’t have otherwise picked.
So far we’ve read Where’d Ya Go Bernadette? (my choice), In the Unlikely Event (Rena’s choice), The Lake House (Sarah’s choice), and next up is The Nightingale (Hannah’s choice).
For now, we’ve decided to meet seasonally, as I originally wanted to make our club fairly laid back. We all have other commitments in the evenings and weekends (like Bible study or church small group, or kids’ sports games) so I didn’t want it to add stress to our lives. It’s worked out to meet about every three months, which gives us plenty of time to acquire (often via library holds waiting lists) and read the book, and also have time to keep reading plenty of other books.
Maybe you’ll choose monthly or bi-monthly, or keep meetings spread farther out like us– do what works for your group.
After a couple of months have passed from our last meeting, the next host will send out a Doodle (a brilliant little free tool), which lists a handful of possible dates/times to meet. We all fill it out to see which time slot works for everyone and get the next date on the calendar.
Whoever chooses the book runs our discussion. Sometimes we find questions online (often the publisher or author has questions on their website), other times we just let the discussion flow. Either way, we all usually end up leaving book club liking the book even more after having talked about it together.
My favorite aspect of our club has been designing our gatherings– we follow the theme, setting, and time period of our book to spark inspiration– it’s so fun!
Sarah is our most careful reader (and also happens to be a total foodie), so she has volunteered to keep a running list of food mentioned in each of our books as she reads. She then emails it out and we use that to draw ideas from and decide what we’ll each bring. It’s fun seeing how food plays a part in the plot of our books, and when we eat together while we chat about the book, it makes us feel somehow more connected to the story (and each other).
Sometimes we dress up a little, too, or have fun setting the table or coffee table to jive with the feel of the book. For Bernadette, we all donned big sunglasses and and scarves (and Rena even wore a sweet cargo vest!), and for The Lake House we enjoyed Sarah’s beautiful tea set as we snacked (see first photo). This is the area where you can really get carried away and have fun with it if you want.
Our book club has been such a fun way to enjoy each other’s company and feel like we are getting a little extra something out of the books we read together. If you love to read, I highly recommend gathering a few friends to read with.
It doesn’t have to add any stress to your life– life which I’m sure is already full, and possibly busy. On the contrary, it will be sure to add an extra dose of joy and fun.
Nicole takes a book everywhere she goes. She loves encouraging others to read and talking about books, both in real life and on her blog. Sign up for her newsletter and you’ll receive a free ebook titled Read More: Why & How to Make Time for Reading Amidst the Busyness of Life.