A story is always better if you have someone to share it with.
This year my book club, Cover2Cover, turned 1 year old! To celebrate, it was only right that we all wear ONESIES for our one year ;-) lol
|Our uber cute invitation lol|
We had a blast! And as we continue to grow and indulge in more reads, I thought I'd share a few tips on how to start and maintain a successful book club.
1. Determine what your AIM is
When I started my book club, I knew my ultimate goal was to ignite a love of reading in my members. This is important! I knew that there were certain reads that I wanted us all to dive into but I also knew there were certain books that I couldn't read with a clear conscience.
Here are a few questions I asked myself:
- What do I hope to get out of having a book club?
- What types of genres would we primarily read? Would we choose one genre OR rotate through various genres throughout the year?
- How often would we meet? Monthly? Every other month?
- Did I want it to be all women or co-ed?
- Would it be a social book club or more scholarly focused?
- Who would facilitate the meets? Would I take sole responsibility or would members have a chance to host meets?
Having a clear goal helps to keep you on course but also makes it easy for members to decide if this is something they can commit to or not.
2. Spread the word!
Once you have a clear vision, it is time to get the word out! Go through your contact list and see who may be interested. I welcomed people who would honestly admit to not being avid readers, BUT who had a desire to read more. And of course, all my known book loving friends got an invite.
I'd suggest keeping your book club between 5-20 people. This way members all have a chance to be heard during discussions :)
Tip: If you'd like, start with about 5 members and allow them to invite a friend and watch how it grows. Be ok with the size fluctuating the first few months until recurring members become more obvious.
3. Establish the best time for meets
This was a tricky one. With so many different schedules, it can feel taxing to accommodate your members. However, flexing that extra brain power to find a good time will help to ensure consistent attendance in the future.
Take a vote amongst your members. Mornings? Brunch? Dinner? Will finding a babysitter be a concern?
Tip: Decide on the dates in advanced if possible. This way everyone can mark their calendars! Make sure you allot enough time for everyone to buy and read their books. I tend to set meets for every 5 weeks.
Avoid holiday weekends, graduation season, etc so you don't force your members to have to choose.
Note: Be resolved to have a majority rules clause. You may not be able to find a time everyone can agree on but choose what seems to be most appealing to your members :-)
4. Determine how books & facilitators will be selected
For our very first meet, it made sense for me to choose the book and to be the host. However, at the end of meets, I have several book titles in a fish bowl and allow 2 members to draw one. Once the titles are read aloud, we look up the summary/reviews of those books and do a group vote. The book that gets the most enthusiasm wins!
Tip: Get book recommendations from your members and check out best sellers lists! Allowing your members to contribute will help to build investment in the reads.
Tip #1: Allow the member who suggests a book to have the option of facilitating that book's discussion at your next meet!
Tip #2: Food makes the world go round lol. It can be potluck style or the host may want to own this. Determine and communicate this for each meet.
Tip #3: As you read your book, make notes to lend to discussion questions.
5. Have clear expectations and consistent communication
I've heard people describe book clubs as a social club comprised of wine, chatting and maybe a book somewhere in a corner lol. Although I am all for a good hangout, that doesn't sound like a book club. Plus, persons in the book club who take the time to actually read, may feel bamboozled when they realize they were the only ones.
It is so important that expectations of the book club are clearly communicated and understood by members. They also must be doable. Keep in mind, that as the founder, your members will look to your example--make it a good one ;-)
Tip: Choose an efficient communication style. Email? Text? iCalendar? GroupMe?
My book club uses GroupMe (free app!) and it's great! This way, members can post their reading updates and pics of our current reads leading up to the meet :-) It keeps us connected and keeps the momentum going.
Do you have a book club? Part of one? What are some things you feel make a book club great?