is a series of posts focused on all things book club related: discussions, listicles, how to’s and more!
I started this feature because I love book clubs. I adore them. I think they are an incredible way to connect with people, enrich our lives, and… well, you can read the other reasons here.
People have asked about my own book clubs many times over the course of the past year. I reference them often. Not only because I am passionate about them, but because they consume quite a bit of my reading. People have asked about how many I participate in, what types of book clubs they are, and why I love them. In this post, I’m going to give you a glimpse into the book club world I live in. I hope that this will provide you some opportunity to reflect on all the book club options in your world.
This book group began hosted by the library closest to where I live. We met once a month at a local coffee shop where a librarian would lead us through a book discussion. The book group was intended for those in their 20s and 30s. But, unfortunately, funding was eventually pulled for this group. This group of very dedicated ladies (4 of us!) still meets 11 times a year at the coffee shop, even if the library doesn’t sponsor our discussions any longer.
I love this group because we are small and intimate. We select our own books a year in advance so everyone always knows what is next. No one person really has to lead the discussion, and we often discuss non-book things for at least a third of our time together– that time varying from 1.5-3 hours. Favorite books this club introduced me to include Rebecca, The Shadow of the Wind, and The Night Circus.
Another library-hosted book group for those in their 20s-30s, this one couldn’t be more different than West Side Stories. I started going here as they were close to my job and met at a bar – the perfect after work event! This is a group of ~60 people who inconsistently attend. But that still means our meetings have 20-30 people attending! Led by two librarians, this discussion always lasts EXACTLY 60 minutes. No more, no less.
This group is fun because there are always new voices to hear from and different opinions than my own. I appreciate how well-organized the library staff is, but they select the books for us to ensure the library system has enough copies for such a large group of people. That said, sometimes it can be a challenge to find a place to speak. Favorite reads this club introduced me to include A Tale for the Time Being, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and Lock-In.
When Emma Watson announced she was starting a feminist book club, I KNEW I was in. I desperately wanted a forum I could express my thoughts, learn from others, and more strongly form my own opinions around equality while feeling safe. Yet, I needed a personal connection. So, I took it upon myself to host a “local chapter” of Our Shared Shelf in my living room. It was the first time I really took complete charge of a book club and I found it is a great fit for me.
Meetings started out strongly. The first 6-8 meetings were well attended. Everyone brought a snack and their book and we had amazing, powerful, passionate discussions. I wrote up 10-15 questions to discuss if conversation lulled. We typically met for ~2 hours. However, interest eventually faded. Now this book club manifests itself in many ways. Sometimes we still meet together if a book really draws people in, but many times I’ll just meet 1:1 with someone in a coffee shop. At this point, I’d say I talk about these books quarterly in person, and on the Goodreads group fairly regularly. Favorite books this club introduced me to include The Color Purple, Mom & Me & Mom, and How to Be A Woman.
No offense to my other book clubs, but this is THE book club in my life. About 5 years ago, one of my friends read The Happiness Project and decided “I too need a Kids Lit book club in my life!”. Originally, four of us got together at a local wine bar to discuss books and, obviously, drink wine. Over time our size has grown, but these ladies are some of my favorite people in the world. It is always the highlight of my month to see them. I don’t know when or how we got so close, but I completely blame books for these wonderful relationships.
We meet monthly in a rotating home to discuss a book selected jointly by everyone who attended the previous meeting. We always meet on the same day of the month for 3-5 hours depending on our schedules. We talk about the book we read, but we also talk about other books and our lives. There is always booze and emotional support. It’s an incredibly positive environment focused on wonderful, fun, light-hearted literature. The rules? You are welome if you don’t read the book, but expect spoilers. And no boys. 😉 Favorite books this club introduced me to include The Heroes of Olympus, The Book Thief, and Fangirl. Plus about 100,000 more.
I am on the board of directors for the Verona Area Concert Band. As social chair (obviously) and a member, I long since decided that a great way for band members to interact outside of the performance space would be a book club. We started out small, and we thrive on the consistency of a core group, but it’s become a fun addition to our musical world.
This collection of band nerds (I can totally say that- I have two music degrees) gets together once a quarter to read books based on that quarter’s concert theme. As with the Our Shared Shelf meetings I host, I write a collection of discussion questions for us to use. We meet from 7-9 pm, which is the exact time of a rehearsal, on the off weeks between concerts. Books are always selected through a Jackie-tatorship. The best way to select books. 😉 Favorite books this club introduced me to include Holes, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Janesville: An American Story.
One consistent member of West Side Stories was taking an evening course one semester and class conflicted with our book club meetings. Instead of letting this friend skip book club for four months, we arranged to have brunch the weekend after West Side Stories met to discuss the book. This quickly expanded and we selected our own book to read as well. Now, a few years later, she has moved to Ohio and we still chat over the phone each month to discuss a series of books.
We meet for 1-2 hours a month over the phone. We use video conferencing when we can. We don’t often have to prepare discussion questions since we both have quite differing opinions of books and love the back and forth of debate. We always discuss the West Side Stories book and a second book, often chosen because one of us is reading it for another reason (like another book club, reading challenges, etc.). Favorite books this club introduced me to include The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, A Gathering of Shadows, and Station Eleven.
The book club with the most boring name ever: The Science Fiction/Fantasy book club. This book club manifested out of a dinner party I crashed (well, I was invited to crash by an attendee) where I holed myself up in a corner talking science fiction and fantasy novels with one other attendee all night. Turns out, this was the talk of the week. Everyone at the dinner party wanted to read more SF/F after listening to us talk so BAM: The Science Fiction/Fantasy book club began.
This book club has the most diplomatic and complex processes. We rotate homes each month for a 2-5 hour event (sometimes we drink a bit much and get too excited). The host provides an entree, everyone else provides sides and snacks. We discuss the book in a passionate, but impressively intellectual, conversation. This is an extraordinarily diverse group of people through background, experiences, and education. In fact, it’s the only book club I participate in which is composed of primarily male members. At the end of the night, the host picks what book we will read for the next book club. Favorite books this club introduced me to include The Goblin Emperor, Sleeping Giants, and The Fifth Season.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two other major sources of bookish discussion in my life– one being the obvious #AnneReadAlong2017. As we come to a close, this will no longer be a consistent source of booklish discussion. But it was a major part of 2017 for me. Through a series read-along like this I was able to discuss Anne of Green Gables with many more people than I ever imagined I would have been able to. Thank goodness for the internet!
I also find that occasional impromptu buddy reads and small group discussions pop up. For example, I did a buddy read this year with Evelina @ Avalinah’s Books. This is the only other buddy read I posted about on my blog, but I read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom with a friend who just wanted someone to chat with about these books. I am also SUPER COOL and will be hosting a book club discussion at my upcoming bachelorette party. Yup. We’re wild. And we’re reading Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu if you’re interested. 😉 I never turn down a chance for bookish chats.
So that’s it! It seems like quite a list, but it’s completely manageable for someone who reads an average of 8 books a month. It does mean I almost exclusively read books for my book clubs and very little else… but I hope to fix that in 2018 a bit. More on that for this coming week’s Top Ten Tuesday!
What do you think?
- Do you participate in a book club? Tell us about it below!
- Which of my book clubs would you be most interested in joining? Which is the least appealing? Why?
- What other questions about book clubs does this spark for you?
- What other book club-ish topics are you interested in digging into?