I recently shared my top five reasons for starting or joining a book club in 2018, and, as promised, I’m here today to share how to keep that club going strong.
As I thought about things that help a book club succeed, I realized I had tips both for getting started and for keeping things going, so today we’ll focus on the former. It’s all too easy for a book club to drift out of existence when schedules, reading preferences, and inconsistency get in the way. Making these few key decisions ahead of time can make all the difference.
Decide ahead of time:
- Who to include in your book club
This is probably the most important component of a successful book group. In my opinion, it’s best to keep things small if you want a lasting club, as larger groups tend to fall apart more easily because people don’t feel responsible to participate. My club, Team Don't Read Crappy Books, has ended up with nine members, which works well for us. As harsh as it sounds, it’s okay to bump people from the group if by the third meeting they haven’t read any books or participated in any meetings. You can always let them back in at a later time if they want to recommit (do I sound like a book club snob yet?).
If your group is tight-knit, be sure everyone in the group is on board if you want to invite someone new to join later on. Longterm friends are your best bet, especially if they know multiple people in the club. Our group member who joined later is a cousin and roommate of one group member, an old friend of another, and had already met several of us. She's been a great addition who we were all comfortable with adding.
More than anything, I encourage you to choose group members who are comfortable with similar levels of language and adult content as you are. It’s not at all necessary to have the same taste in book genres, but you’ll have a frustrating time trying to agree on books if some of your club members want only squeaky clean reads while others are comfortable with some dark or adult content. Think about what you’re comfortable reading (and what you aren’t okay with reading), and find group members who feel similarly. I promise it will make things easier.
- How often you’ll meet
My book club definitely struggles with this (balancing schedules is hard!), but we aim to meet every other month. It might help your group to have a set day of every month or every other month when you meet. If you’d like to use the Provo Library’s book club sets, you’ll want to meet every six weeks so that it’s easy to rotate sets. Whatever you choose, consistency is key.
- How books will be chosen
There are a few options for choosing what book you should read. Team Don’t Read Crappy Books rotates hosts, and the host chooses what we’ll read. This has worked well for us and has led to more variety in what we read. Another option is to choose as a group what you’ll read, which can work especially well if you’re checking out book club sets, as the more popular sets need to be reserved months in advance.
Like I mentioned above, it’s a good idea to know ahead of time what your group is comfortable reading. Lay the ground rules of what content you’re okay with in your very first meeting. It’s also a good idea to have a page number limit so that club members have enough time to finish the book before meeting. We’ve found a 500 page limit to be a good guideline, but we’re flexible about it.
- How club members will get copies of the book
Will one member of your club reserve, pick up, hand out, collect, and return a book club set from the library? Will that club member change each time or always be the same person? Will each member be responsible for buying or checking out their own book? Decide ahead of time how you want this to work.
- How your club will communicate
Team Don’t Read Crappy Books has a private Facebook group that is a perfect means of communicating for us. We use it to announce what we’ll be reading next, share pictures and happy news (book related or not), and decide when to meet. The polls feature is especially useful when we’re trying to figure out a meeting time that works for everyone. Facebook works for us, but group texts and emails are also good options.