So you've put together a great group for book club, and everyone's excited to get reading. If it's your turn, hosting can feel intimidating, but hopefully these tips will help.
- Choose books carefully
If you're choosing what the group reads, be thoughtful about your selection, and don’t leave it to the last minute. Be mindful of what the group will enjoy and have a good discussion about. It can help if you or someone else in the club have already read the book. That way no one is caught off guard by content and you know you'll have plenty of topics to discuss. If a few group members have already read it, don't hesitate to choose the book anyway. Chances are they'll enjoy the month off and will still be excited to discuss their thoughts.
Be sure to mix things up as far as genre and audience go. Contemporary adult literature, historical fiction, and classics don't have to be your only options. YA and children's lit provide plenty of depth and a wonderful change of pace from typical book club reads, as do fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, and nonfiction.
Still feel a little overwhelmed by options? Bring it to the group! Even though the host selects the book each month in our club, they typically discuss options with all of us before making the final call.
- Review the book before you meet
Even if you’ve just read the book, doing a quick refresher on timelines, character names, and themes is a good idea. Sparknotes or Shmoop are perfect tools for this. I’ve been guilty of skipping this step and have been amazed at how much I’ve forgotten in the moment. It’s helpful to do as a book club attendee too.
- Plan out discussion topics and questions
You might think discussion will happen organically, and occasionally it does, but more often than not, you’ll need a plan. Discussion guides are easy to find online for classic and popular books at sites like LitLovers and Reading Group Guides. Author interviews or biographical articles also add a great depth to conversation.
If the book you’ve chosen is one of our library book club sets, you’re in even better luck. Even if you aren’t checking out book club set, we’ve already done the research for you and have discussion guides and relevant articles for each book available on our website (see an example here).
- Let them eat cake (or buffalo wings)
You don’t have to go all out, but refreshments can help loosen the mood and make things more fun. Don’t feel like cooking? My group often meets at restaurants, sometimes in ways that are vaguely related to the book (we met at Wingers while discussing CODE NAME VERITY, for instance).
- Allow time for casual chatting
Book club is about books, but it’s also about friendship. We usually spend a good hour catching up on each other’s lives before discussing what we’ve read, and we don’t feel guilty about it at all. It’s all about finding a balance.
Well, faithful readers, that brings our series on book clubs to an end. What did we miss? Why do you love your book club? How have you kept it alive and thriving?