Book clubs are the absolute best. You get to meet with a bunch of rad people and talk about some amazing books. I’m not entirely sure there’s any better way to spend your time. Are you looking to make your book club the best it has ever been in 2019? Then you’ll want to follow these handy tips!
I swear there’s a Simpsons gif for everything…
Choose your books as a team
Remember how group work was the absolute worst in school? Well, the absolute best thing about book clubs is being able to choose books as a group! Not only will you learn more about the people that make up your book club, but you’ll also get a chance to read books that you otherwise never would have picked up!
Location, location, location
Every book club that I have taken part in has been held at someone’s house. Basically, we come up with a schedule, and bounce around from place to place – all depending on whose book we’re reading that day. And that works perfectly for us, because we all drive and we all live in a city where public transit and public places aren’t exactly it’s strongest suits… But! If you think that a coffee shop or a library or even a bookstore would be a better place for your book club to meet, then do it! Don’t be afraid to switch up venues based on the books, too. For instance, if your book club is reading a steamy romance novel (or even something spoiler-heavy like Game of Thrones), then mayyyyybe you might want to keep that discussion private. But, if your book club is reading something that you’re not scared to talk about in public, then don’t be afraid of taking your meetings to public spaces! Who knows, you may even find new members that way. Just remember to decide what’s best for your group.
READ👏 THE 👏BOOKS👏
I’m going to tell you something you might not know: As someone with experience teaching English Literature, it is painfully obvious when someone hasn’t read the book that is being discussed. You may think you’re able to fake your way through the conversation, but I promise you that’s not the case. We can’t stress this enough: Read. The. Books! (If you can’t read the books, see next point.)
Honesty really is a virtue…
Didn’t read the book? That’s okay! Hated the book? That’s okay, too! Could only find time to read the first 15 pages, like, 5 minutes before the meeting started? Even that’s okay! Just remember to be honest with your peers. If your book club agrees to have an honest and open conversation, no one is going to be offended if you didn’t like the book, and no one is going to mind if you just simply didn’t have the time to read that month’s book. Life is busy, after all! To be honest, most book clubs are about the company anyways, so they’ll likely just be happy you were able to make it.
Discussion is everything
Book clubs are dependent on three things: (1) good people; (2) good books; and (3) good discussions! To help ensure a great discussion, don’t be afraid to take notes while you’re reading! As you’re reading, think of questions to ask the club, highlight points of interest, and draw connections to other things (movies, music, other books, whatever!) that you noticed. If you think it’s worth saying, then say it! I’m one of those awful people who dog-ear pages and write in their books, but if you’re more of a sticky note/journal/scrap piece of paper type of person, then go that route! Do whatever it will take to help foster a warm, welcoming, and intelligent conversation.
Food and wine is always a good idea
Listen, we know we’re all here for the books, but who doesn’t love a little wine and cheese with friends every now and then? Having refreshments – whether it’s something as fancy as wine and cheese or something as simple as tea and coffee – will help take some of the pressure off the group discussion. It will create a laid-back environment, where everyone can approach the discussion at their own pace. Books clubs are like social gatherings, after all. No need to make them formal.
Contrary to popular advice, don’t disconnect!
I always hear people saying to disconnect from your devices when you’re around people, and I think that, in certain social environments, that’s a good piece of advice. But when it comes to book clubs, I’m not so sure… Obviously I’m not saying sit on your phone texting people the entire time, but we have mini-computers in our pockets and purses that can help supplement the discussion. Don’t get a reference? Look it up! Can’t figure out what certain symbols mean? Google probably knows! I’m a firm believer in the power of Wikipedia, and I don’t think there’s any reason to completely unplug during your next book club’s meeting. In fact, it could enrich the conversation that much more!
This is the most important rule: HAVE FUN! If you have the ability to spend your free time with good people talking about good books, you have to take full advantage of it.
Planning your 2019 book club and in need of some recommendations? Here are some of our favourites so far this year!
- Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
- Family Trust by Kathy Wang
- That Time I Loved You by Carrianne Leung
- The Book of M by Peng Shepherd
- The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
- The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
- The Next Person You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
- Heartbreaker by Claudia Dey
- The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson
- Melmoth by Sarah Perry
Do you have any tips for aspiring book clubs? What works well and what doesn’t for you? Let us know if the comments or on Twitter @SavvyReader!