How To Start A Feminist Book Club In 7 Steps
It's only three months into the new year, but 2017 has already proven to be a year of resistance for people across the nation — especially for women who have refused to let their voices — or their rights — be drowned out by the clamor of the Trump administration. If you're one of the many who have joined this massive activist movement and are looking for more ways to get involved outside of rallies and protests, I'm here to tell you how to start a feminist book club, because there's no easier (or more enjoyable) way to resist than with a good book.
Acts of resistance come in all shapes and sizes, but one of the most simple yet powerful ways to fight back is through educating yourself and others, and reading is a great way to do just that. As Bustle's own Books editor Cristina Arreola explained when discussing the new Bustle American Woman Book Club, "2017 is a year for action. It’s more important than ever that American women try to understand each other in the face of such partisan division and that we come together in the quest for social justice and equality." What better way to do exactly that than by starting a feminist book club to educate, celebrate, and give a voice to the many different women in the world?
While there are plenty of feminist book clubs out there you can already join, including Emma Watson's Our Shared Shelf and Bustle's book club, starting your own is as easy as gathering up all of your feminist friends, picking a
If you aren't sure where to start, here are seven easy steps to starting a feminist book club.
1. Define your club's goal.
From social opportunities to reading suggestions, book clubs serve a lot of purposes, and before you start your feminist own, you have to decide on a goal. Will your club explore the definition and meaning of feminism today, or focus on the history of the movement? Is your club's purpose to hear and share diverse stories of women, or are you gathering people to educate them on possible next steps of action? Are you a reading group, a support group, an activist group, or a mix of everything?
Once you have a clear understanding of what kind of club you want to create, you can begin to recruit people who share the same interest to join. Which brings me to my next point...
2. Get intersectional.
If you're going to host a truly feminist book club, you should include women and feminists from all walks of life. Being a feminist means being intersectional, which means not just accepting the experience of other women suffering from different degrees of oppression than you, but seeking out their stories. A great place to start would be inviting women outside of your own identity, whether it be someone of a different race, religion, sexual identity, or sexual orientation, into your book club to share their experiences and help shape your club's idea of feminism.
But being an intersectional book club doesn't just mean inviting a diverse group of people to join. It also means selecting a diverse reading list that is representative of every kind of woman's story, not just those you most easily relate to.
3. Start a feminist TBR list for your club.
Once you decide your club's main goal and begin to recruit fellow feminist members, the real fun begins: starting your TBR list. You can create a diverse list of fiction, nonfiction, or even poetry, but make sure every book has the same common theme: feminism.
4. Use current events to discuss your reading.
Whether you're reading a feminist classic like Sister Outsider or The Bell Jar, or a modern work of feminist fiction like Americanah or Difficult Women, framing your book club discussion questions around current events is a great way of diving deeper into your ongoing discussion about feminism as a whole.
Outside of your standard book club questions about plot, setting, tone, and characters, you can include contextualized discussions about the day's news or weeks events in feminism. How would the books character handle the administration's newest policy? What would the long-ago dead feminist authors of the past think about the problems of facing modern women? It's up to you and your book club to figure that out.
5. Set ground rules for your discussions.
Roxane Gay said it best when she explained, "There's no right or wrong way to be a feminist." Use her wise words as a foundation for all of your feminist book club discussions. When you talk about women's issues, keep in mind that they feel differently for every woman, that includes the individuals in your book club. Be respectful of each other's experiences and each other's opinions.
The most important rule in feminist book club: listen to each other. The rest of the world is already trying to silence women's voices. Your book club shouldn't.
6. Hold your club meeting at businesses run by women.
If you want to take your book club out of your apartment, a great way of making sure your club continues to support the feminist cause is by supporting local, women-run businesses. You can meet up at a woman-owned restaurant or a women-run bookshop, or if you would rather stay in, try and share food and drink with your group from businesses that support women.
7. Keep the discussion going outside of the meeting.
The best part about having a feminist book club rather than any old standard book club is that the discussion doesn't end when your meetings are over. If you want to run a truly powerful feminist book club, keep talking in between group discussions, whether it be through group text, email, or other messaging apps. Ask more questions about what you just read, continue conversations you started at your last meeting, or use current events to bring up new points about things you read in the past. It's a great way to keep everyone involved and engaged, and not just when you're sitting in the same room together.
Feminism is a 24/7 job, and one easy way of making sure you're staying involved is by using your book club to keep the discussion going. Now, more than ever, we can't afford to stop talking about it.