Between all of us at Bookclubz, we are in 8 + book clubs, which means we have some expertise on the matter. We believe book club shouldn’t be overly prescriptive (you do you), but a well organized book club is more likely to stay together. Our hope is that this blog series of tips and tricks inspires you to form a book club, reinvigorate a lapsed book club or introduce new traditions to your existing club!
We are kicking this series off with "Part 1: How to Start a Book Club.”` Starting your own book club can seem daunting at first because there are a lot of moving parts, from inviting members to planning meetings. However, here at Bookclubz we have ideas to get rocking and rolling!
Ready, Set …. Invite!
Head to Bookclubz.com or our mobile app to create your club. You just need an email and et voila you’re in! . Whether you are starting from scratch or integrating an existing book club, Bookclubz makes it easy. We supply a unique invitation link that ensures your clubs privacy, which you can send to prospective members in order for them to sign up and join the club. Once members start to join, you will be able to track who has joined under member settings, and then you can begin your book club journey!
Tackling the logistics
First question to ask is how often will you and your club meet? Most clubs tend to meet once a month or every two months. Some clubs decide to wing it and just schedule from one meeting to the next. Or you can plan every meeting far in advance, like say every first Tuesday of the month. After a while, you and your club will have a better understanding of what works for you!
Next, you have to decide where you are going to meet. Our current reality can make this decision challenging. It is important to do what keeps your members safe and healthy. If you decide to meet in person, try meeting outside either in someone’s backyard or a park. If meeting outside still seems too risky, there are always online platforms, and we have a designated area in the meeting portion of our app where you can include your online meeting link.
Another key question to ask is does size matter? Most clubs have around 10 members, but we’ve seen clubs of 4, 50, 500 thrive! You won’t see every member at every meeting, but that core group of members will form and be the glue for clubs of all sizes. You can also have an open door policy so other members can invite their own friends to the book club too. If you are taking a “more the merrier” approach, consider going public and signing up for our “Join a Book Club” page. Overall, it is most important to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Choosing your book
Figuring out how you will pick the books your club will read is another key aspect. You could pick a single genre to focus on, or choose to mix it up. We’ve found picking a main theme and then integrating a little variety here and there is the most enjoyable for us. Our website and app also has a polling feature that allows your club to vote on what book they would like to read. Democratize the process!
Will there be any rules?
Finally it is also important to decide if the club should be focused on socializing, literature or learning. In other words, how will you decide to structure your meetings? Maybe you will decide to focus on the book for the first hour, and then move on to other topics after. Also, you should decide how you want to handle spoilers for those who may have not finished the book in time. Ultimately, you’ll avoid frustration by determining your goals and expectations of the club with everyone else. You don’t have to be overly prescriptive but a few guardrails help keep the book club on track.
Let it flow
Our number one tip for getting ready for your discussion is to come prepared! You could nominate a member to start each meeting with an open- ended question, a report on your book’s reviews or a few fancy tidbits from an author interview. This will help let everyone get into the flow of discussing the book. Another tip we have is to introduce a ritua! Establishing a ritual, for example everyone shares their favorite quote from the book, will help get everyone warmed up and ready to jump in. Want to go deeper into discussion? You can check to see if we have a discussion guide for your book on Bookclubz! We work with publishers and authors to provide discussion guides and questions, find them under the “discussion Guides” link! You’ll have to decide who is going to be in charge of leading the discussions, and whoever that is will need to establish what you want to achieve from reading the book. Hint: there is no right or wrong answer!!
Need some easier starter discussion questions? Here’s some of ours:
- Which character do you identify with most?
- Was the book well written? What struck you about the author's style?
- How did the storyline surprise you?
- How did the novel speak to you personally? Did you laugh or cry?
- Did the book spark your curiosity about the setting? Author? Historical era?
- If they made the book into a movie, what actors would you cast?
Most importantly, you need to create a group where enlightened discussion can flourish! We relate to books on a deeper level, so some books can open up personal topics for members. It is important to foster an open environment where people can share their feelings, experiences and opinions and feel heard. Don’t be surprised if opinions differ, and welcome the discomfort of uncomfortable discussions with respect and curiosity. We bring our own life experiences. Keep this in mind as you add new members.