is a series of posts focused on all things book club related: discussions, listicles, how to’s and more!
Have you ever finished reading a book and immediately thought to yourself, “Oh MAN! I wish I had someone to talk to about ______! But there is no one around/ready to chat/available/etc. Worst.”? Have you already tried to seek out book clubs and found them wanting or completely non-existent? If either of these concepts resonates with you, you might want to consider starting a book club!
But where do you start? Below you will find a list of questions you’ll want to ask yourself before starting your book group. It’s important to self-identify what it is you want from this group before embarking on this journey. Future posts in this series will give you tips on book club logistics, how to grow your book club, and what meetings should look like. But, let’s not put the cart before the horse! Take some time to reflect:
What do you hope to get out of this book club? This is important. The cornerstone of your book club and the direction you take things from here on out rests on the answer to this question. This could be just for fun and relaxation, or it could be to challenge your mind to think more critically. It could be to meet new people or to solidify existing friendships. It could be about re-reading old favorites or finding gems you’d never think to read. Consider your goals. Write them all down. Yes. Every. Single. One.
What kind of book club do you want this to be? This is reflecting back on my post Types of Book Clubs to Join. A lot of this depends on the answers to your questions below. But, this could be a book club which meets at a local library or online and anyone could join; a public book club. Or, it could be private; just you and your friends. Heck, you could sit around in silence and just spend the time reading. Madness, I know. But there are options!
What kind of books do you want to read? Ahh, the fun question. Books books books! A lot of groups focus on genres, themes or reading levels. You could also be a branch of a celebrity-driven book club and read those selections. Or a group of people all reading books from certain book subscription service or award list. There are many options to choose from!
How often do you want to meet to discuss? There are a ton of options here. You could read a few chapters a week and meet weekly. Perhaps monthly or quarterly is more your style. This should not only be reflective of the length and complexity of the books you want to read, but also the availability of your members. Or, considering the next question, perhaps you think setting a meeting time isn’t even necessary!
Do you want to meet in person or online? You might have already reflected on this after reading my In-Person or Online? post. If you aren’t certain which direction you’re leaning already, check out that post for some considerations which will help you decide!
Where and how do you want to meet? Whether you are meeting in person or online, there are plenty of options. For me, this is one of the best parts. Popular in-person options include someone’s home, the library, a coffee shop, a park, or a library. Depending on where you meet will determine some other restrictions, such as whether food or drink is available.If you are meeting online, consider what platform you want to host your book club. There are tons available! Perhaps you’re more low-tech and you want to focus on Facebook or Google options. But there are tons of potential platforms: Litsy, Goodreads, Instagram, Twitter, Reddit and more await your online bookish discussions! Heck, you can even use Oprah.com for your own book club hosting: You get a book club, and you get a book club, and you get a book club!!!
What does the size and membership of your perfect book club look like? The number of people around the table matter. Too many people and conversation can last too long, or not everyone gets their say. Too few and the conversation is stilted. Consider what would be perfect for you. It will certainly be different for everyone! Also, consider the demographics of your community. Often, our friends are very like-minded to us. Perhaps it would benefit the book club to seek out more diversity of thought and background. But, if you aren’t having tough conversations, that might not matter as much. It’s up to you!
How book-focused are the members of your perfect book club? I see you laughing. But honestly, how many times have a collection of friends gotten together and only discussed the book for 15 minutes out of 60? Do you want to find people focused on books and nothing else? Or is this more a social club based on books? Both are just fine! Just consider how important the percent of the time you spend ACTUALLY talking about books really is to you.
Do you want to run this alone, or find help? Think long and hard about this. If you are someone who initiates the book club, people will instinctively look to you for leadership. This could be great! On the other hand, if you aren’t one for project management or you’re really busy, it might be nice to enlist help. Based on your answer, I’m sure you could identify people you either want to invite or avoid based on your decision. Nothing worse than wanting to lead something and have someone take your mantle of leadership away or getting stuck leading something you don’t want to. Book club should never be a chore!
How will you communicate with members? This is the most important thing I think people often overlook. Communication is key to long-term success! If these are your close friends, word of mouth or texting might be just fine. But if they aren’t? You’ll want to consider how technology can help you. Google and Facebook both provide strong options for coordination. E-mail might also be just fine.
It’s important to establish your vision before you begin your book club quest. People will look to you for leadership, even if you don’t want to lead the book club long term. You’ll need to be prepared to answer all the questions they will inevitably ask! Once you’ve answered the questions above, you can begin to consider the technical logistics. But until then, take some time to reflect. Be honest with yourself! There’s nothing worse than starting a book club only to realize it just wasn’t what you wanted in the first place.
What do you think?
- Are you interested in starting a book group?
- Have you ever started a book club?
- Do you agree or disagree with the idea of developing a vision first? Why or why not?
- What would you like to add or remove from this list of considerations pre-book club?