How To Start A Mother-Daughter Book Club

The CW

Hey, bookworm, want to know how to start a mother-daughter book club to help you stay connected as your paths diverge? Or maybe you've just moved back home and need to re-connect. Just sit down with Mom, answer the seven easy questions I have for you below, and get those covers cracking.

Mother-daughter relationships aren't one-size-fits-all, but every one is a complex weave of expectations and experiences. A mother-daughter book club probably won't magically fix a broken relationship with Mommy Dearest, but it can prove to be an excellent bonding experience for women who want to grow closer.

On that same note, if you start you book club on the wrong foot — with one of you in control of everything, say, or without consideration for another person's tastes — you could damage your existing relationship with your mom. You can usually avoid a bad book club experience by planning ahead and making others part of the conversation, however.

You'll notice there are book cover images accompanying the questions below, presented without any commentary on the plots inside. These are a few recommendations for your first mother-daughter book club picks. I've also included some links to other Bustle articles on books to read with your mom, so you won't want for reading inspiration.

Here's how to start your mother-daughter book club.


Who Will Join?

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It is 100 percent OK to make your book club about just you and your mother, but there's also no hard rule against welcoming other people into your little fold. You can invite your sisters to join in on the mom-bonding, or embrace a big book club that consists of your grandmother, her daughters, and their daughters. If you and a lot of your friends are only daughters, you might consider starting a mother-daughter book club that consists of multiple families. The possibilities are truly endless.


What Does Your Schedule Look Like?

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Although the "traditional" book club model tasks members with reading one book for each monthly meeting, there are plenty of other options available. If a bi-monthly or quarterly option works better for you, go for it! Likewise, it's possible to meet weekly or bi-weekly to discuss the plot as it unfolds, but you'll need to come up with a reading guide so that everyone knows what chapters will be discussed and when.

Does your group want frequent sessions, but have busy schedules? Consider limiting in-person meetings to once per month, with weekly or bi-weekly online chats in between. And even if you don't hold any meetings remotely, you should still be open to using Skype or Google Hangouts to accommodate someone who can't make it to an in-person meeting.


How Will You Choose Your Books?

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Real talk: even if you and Mom are the only two members of your mother-daughter book club, you probably won't agree on every single selection. You need to decide on a system for choosing books before you start reading. Here are some suggestions:

Alternating Months: You pick a book for January, Mom picks for February, and it's your turn again in March. This is arguably the easiest book-selection system to use, but it can get tricky with a big group.

The 5-3-1 Method: You pick five books, Mom narrows to three, and you pick one from her list of three. Alternate who picks the five during each selection period. For bigger groups, have one person choose five books and put those to a vote, then vote again on the top three.

Family Pick: If your book club consists of multiple mother-daughter duos, this might be the method for you. Each month, a different mom and daughter pick a book together for the group to read. Easy-peasy.

The Lottery: Possibly the best method for large and largish groups, you can have each person write down a title for a random drawing. Decide whether your book club will keep drawing from this pool until all the books have been read, or whether you want to assemble a new lottery every meeting.


When Are You Allowed To DNF?

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The last thing you want is for your mother-daughter book club to devolve into a bunch of nasty, "Why are you here? You didn't even read the book!" comments. You need to establish rules for if and when a member is allowed to give up on finishing a selected title. Reading the first 50 pages is my personal rule-of-thumb, but your mileage may vary.

Also, while you're well within your rights to restrict meetings to only those members who read the book to completion, please understand that it's kind to allow people who didn't finish it to join you. Book clubs aren't about just books, but community and bonding, as well. (Trust me, you'll want to finish Where'd You Go, Bernadette?)


Are You Willing To Try New Things?

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This is the most important question when it comes to any book club. You're going to be reading titles you did not pick out, and these might be books you would never have picked up on your own. Embrace that. Be open to reading new authors and genres. You might be surprised to find out just how much you like them.


Is Something Not Working Out?

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Your book club must be able to adapt if it's going to survive. That might mean changing your book-selection process, tweaking reading and meeting schedules, adding more wine, or giving a toxic person the boot. Be ready to calmly address major issues with your group; it's the only way you'll find what works for you.