by Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh: President, Word Branch Media
What can be more satisfying to a book lover than talking about books with like-minded people? My own book club, The Underachievers, has been a place where I met wonderful people and was exposed to books and genres I probably would have never read. It has helped me grow as a reader, and it makes me feel more a part of my community.
If you are currently a member of a book club, you know what I mean. If you would like to start your own book club, you are beginning a journey that will enrich your life. Although it’s not difficult to do, there are a few considerations to make your experience rewarding and stress free.
Focus: If you are starting from scratch, ask yourself what type of experience you want from the club. Do you want to enrich a much loved genre (mystery, science fiction, romance) by discussing it with others or do you want to explore new territories? Are you interested in classics or new best sellers? If you have friends who want to start the book club together, include everyone in the discussion—don’t assume that everyone’s book preference is the same as yours.
Location: The first consideration for location is physical or virtual? Internet-based book clubs are becoming more popular and work well for some people. If your members have trouble finding the time to get together or live a considerable distance apart, this may be the way to go. There are a number of sites that offer free meeting places, including libraries, but Book Club It seems to have a simple, no-fuss platform. http://www.bookclubit.com/
If your location is physical, you have a range of options. Many clubs opt to have meetings in members’ homes rotating sites so it doesn’t get overwhelming for one person. This can easily become an opportunity to extend the meeting with carry-in meals or wine or coffee get-togethers. If this isn’t the best option, try a local coffee shop or book store. Contact the management first to make sure they can handle the extra people. You may even get a group discount. Libraries always have a steady stream of books clubs and often have a dedicated space.
Members: Before you begin recruiting members, consider the focus of the group. Start with friends and family who share the group’s reading interests, and ask them to pass the word. Post flyers at libraries, coffee shops, book stores and places where you might find compatible reads: i.e. an inspirational book club might post at a church or synagogue.
One caveat about members coming and going: Don’t be hurt if you lose members (and you will) because they either don’t have time or just don’t click with the group. It happens, and most book clubs are very fluid with membership.
Before the first meeting: A book club should be fun and gratifying, but if you haven’t made some plans, it will become chaotic pretty quickly. Some things that you want to consider are listed below:
The WordWeb Blog brings to you information, tips, trivia and more about writing, reading, editing and books written by experts in the field.