Did you ever finish a great book you enjoyed so much that you wanted to talk about it with someone else? Ever come to the end of a novel and feel sad leaving the characters behind?
If you answered yes to either of these questions, perhaps you should consider joining or forming a book club. Book clubs are groups of individuals that meet on a regular basis to discuss a book pre-selected by one of its members. They engage in lively group conversation covering everything from characters, plots, authors and surprise endings. The benefits of book clubs are immense. Not only does the discussion allow you to remember details of the book long after you have read it, it also introduces you to books you might not have otherwise read. It opens your world to other genres you might not have selected on your own.
If you can find a book club inviting new members, I recommend giving it a try. The most likely places to find an established book club are local book stores, libraries, church organizations, senior citizen centers and home owner associations. If you have no luck finding a local club start one of your own. You can advertise at libraries, church, school, senior centers, or by word of mouth. Readers tend to stick together so it is very likely you have a group of friends that might be interested in forming a club with you. You can have as few as 3 members or as many as 10. The more members you have the livelier the discussion.
Once you have an established group of people it’s helpful to have some simple guidelines to follow. Below are some helpful hints to successfully run and maintain a viable club.
1. Decide when you will meet. Have members discuss the best time that fits with everyone’s schedules. (For example the 1st Monday of every month at 7:00 P.M.) Once you have scheduled you club’s time, stick to it. Changing times and dates to accommodate someone on occasion will only lead to missed meetings and frequent absenteeism. Most members will miss an occasional meeting due to work schedules or vacations.
2. Decide where you will meet. Some suggestions are the local library, café, coffee shop, or a club house. You can also rotate each other’s homes. (This is especially nice as it forces you to clean once a month.) Although not necessary, add a little food and drink, but keep it simple. Food and drink generally relaxes people and encourages conversation. Coffee and dessert, or wine and cheese are a few examples that will provide your club with a snack, but will not involve timely preparation.
3. Select a leader or moderator each month. They will be responsible for initiating the book discussion. They can lead with questions they have prepared or they can print questions from the internet. Most books now have group discussion questions you can easily find online and some are located at the back of the book courtesy of the author or publisher.
4. Each month give a different member a chance to select a book for the group to read. Not every book selected may be your cup of tea, but you may find you are pleasantly surprised. Allowing different members to select books keeps things fair and offers diversity to the group.
5. And last but not least, please remember not all members have to purchase a new book. Most members will purchase the selection of the month to build their own personal library, but books can be borrowed from others, found in a library, or purchased at a variety of used book stores. Don’t let finances deter you from pursuing a club.
In closing I have listed several suggested books for starter groups. These books have great plot and characters and lend a lot of material for discussion. Enjoy!
1. The Help by Kathryn Stockett
2. The Grapes Of Wrath by John Steinbeck
3. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
4. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
5. The Shadow Of The Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
6. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
7. Circle Of Friends by Maeve Binchy
8. Dances With Wolves by Michael Blake
9. Sarah’s Key by Tatiana Rosnay
10. Fried Green Tomatoes At The Whistle Stop Café by Fannie Flagg
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