Starting or joining a book club is initially exciting. You're meeting new people, reading new books, talking about stories and authors for hours. How could things go wrong? Unfortunately, setting up rules and choosing books maybe everyone doesn't agree on can make things feel stressed. There's also deadlines to have books finished by and events to host. Book clubs can be intense, but they don't have to be.
Book clubs are all about exploring new books as a group and asking interesting questions. They're about listening to different points of view and how everyone interpreted metaphors or themes. After getting a degree in writing, my classes felt like being in four or five different book clubs at once, and I loved it. Now that I'm out in the adult world, I've been looking for ways to make book clubs less static and academic, more fun and easy-going.
If you're also in search of some fun ways to make your book club a great time for everyone, you're in luck! Make sure to spend time getting to know everyone in your group, don't be afraid to switch up your initial rules and routines, and follow these 10 steps:
1. Spend Your First Day Getting To Know Everyone And Come Up With A Club Name
Even if you already have an established book club, it's never too late to talk with everyone and get to know them outside of the book club. Cheesy icebreakers like sharing favorite ice cream flavors is one route, but you can also get to know your group by asking questions like what their favorite childhood book was and who inspires them the most. It also makes a book club 10 times more fun when you have a silly group name. Get creative and don't let any ideas get lost in the process!
2. Keep Book Choices Under 300 Pages
Rules are meant to be broken, of course, so this doesn't always have to be the case. However, keeping books on a smaller scale eliminates the stress of having to finish a massive book in a few weeks. This will also help narrow down book choices, because after being in a few book clubs, deciding on a book always seems to be the hardest part.
3. Celebrate After Finishing A Book
Meeting up to discuss a book is exciting, but if you celebrate it like you would a birthday or holiday, it makes it even more fun! Make it a pot-luck and have everyone bring something (simple) to eat. You could even make it themed around the book you read. If the book has a movie adaptation, have a movie night with popcorn and watch it together.
4. Switch Up Your Meeting Spots
Meeting at home is easy for some groups, but switching up your spot — a cafe, library, big bookstore, or even a park on a nice day — can make all the difference between a strict and laid-back book club. Open up the idea to your club and see what other places you can think of to meet at.
5. Use An Online Calendar
Technology comes in handy with book clubs. Create a Google calendar where everyone can put up their schedules and you can find a day that works for everyone to all meet up. If something comes up, it's easy to put in a note and say why you won't be able to attend. If you want, you could also include your thoughts on the book so you're still part of the conversation.
6. Open Up Book Discussion With A Game
Break out the board games! Scrabble, Scattegories, Banangrams, Apples to Apples, anything that screams fun! Sure it might seem a little silly and off track, but it'll make the atmosphere more open and easy to work with when it comes to discussing a difficult or controversial book.
7. Choose Local Authors And Recently Published Books
At least a few times a year, try to pick a local author or recently published book for your book club. With a local author you have a much higher chance of getting in contact and including her or him in your book club meeting. Similarly, with recently published books, you and your book club could plan around a book tour that's coming to your town. It's an opportunity to have fun, meet an author, and ask questions outside of your normal gatherings.
8. Break Up Into Small Groups
This helps for bigger book clubs made up of more than 15 people. Even if your book club is on the smaller side, this still helps for people who tend to be more quiet and their comments, questions, and thoughts get lost in the conversation. Small groups may sound a little like high-school, but by teaming everyone up it allows everyone to share their thoughts and come back together and offer an equal amount of time to each person.
9. Diversify Your Book Choices
Take a look at the last three novels your book club read and see if there are any similarities. Were they all written by white authors? Has your group ever read a translated book? Have you explored other genres? Break out of your traditions and explore a new book together. It might be strange and not work out, or it might inspire you to explore other authors, genres, and topics!
10. Include Booze
When all else fails, booze can always make a book club way more fun than intense. Break out a few bottles and remember to have fun!
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