Reading a book can be the perfect way to relax after a long day or long week. When you need to relax, it’s always great to escape to the world of literature. Now, why not take it up a notch? Of course, you can still read independently, but what if you were part of a club of readers?
We’ve all heard of Book clubs. We’ve seen the books written about them, the movies made about friends in book clubs. They look fun and inviting. A group of close people reads books, discusses them, and usually drinks (one of these is optional). That sense of community is possible to create, so why not pioneer your own book club?
If you are still reading this, you have already checked the social media and libraries around to see if there are existing book clubs. There is none?! Worry not, you will create the first one!
So how do you start your own book club? Well, let’s run through the list of things you might need to consider before getting your first book club meeting going.
Here is a book club that I am running (it's in Spain):
Why Start Your Own Book Club?
There are many reasons why you should consider starting your own book club. The idea of getting a group of like-minded people together to read and enjoy books together is a rewarding experience.
You’re creating a safe environment for reading, discussion, reflection, and further understanding of what you will possibly read. The value from such discussions can be incredible. You, and your book club, will gain valuable perspective and see how the same work can create a multitude of different opinions.
Beyond these initial reasons, the other reason you should start a book club - beyond the love of literature - is the need for community. A support group can emerge from book clubs. They can become much more than a group of people who simply read and discuss books. This is socially beneficial in the long term.
Who Do You Start Your Own Book Club With?
Anyone should be considered for a spot in your book club. The idea is about reading, but it’s also about connecting with other people. A book club can be for anyone of any age, gender, background, race, etc.
You are looking to create a safe space to read, discuss, and enjoy. Having multiple voices of different backgrounds is beneficial on both a literary level and a personal level.
If you live in a neighbourhood, ask your neighbours if they’d like to join. If you live in an apartment building, connect with other tenants. You can even create book clubs within your profession, school, and college. There are a ton of options for you to make a book club from.
Some people will say no, that’s perfectly fine. You want people who will be as invested as you. Don’t be afraid of a bit of rejection standing in your way of creating a book club.
The best thing is that on the beginning you don't even need people to say no. You gather only alike you! Those who crave for talking in person. I have started from creating a group online and people started joining organically.
What to Read in Your New Book Club
Be prepared to take some risks. Think of expanding your world of reading and look for work that might even challenge you a little. This is in no way required but may add to the fun of it.
Keep in mind that when a book is selected, not everyone will agree with the choice. So make the selection as democratic as possible. For example, maybe allow everyone to submit an option, and have your members vote on it.
Make sure that what is selected is readily available to everyone. The worst thing someone can do is force their members to purchase a book they have no intention of reading. Books aren’t cheap, so sometimes you may need to offer alternatives to ensure that people don’t feel forced to buy something they don’t want. This does mean you’ll have to mini-book clubs running simultaneously, but this doesn’t have to be a recurring theme.
Where to have Your Own Book Club Meetings
It is essential to establish a practice of where these meetings will take place. The options are available to make sure that you manage to keep it a safe environment while providing a level of enjoyment. Nobody wants to have a book club in a dive bar. They want somewhere that is quiet, where they can create noise while enjoying one another’s company and possibly a few drinks and snacks.
Some groups, who meet in person, use a method of taking turns hosting. This means each member of the group hosts at their home at least once in a cycle. If your home isn’t where guests can be hosted, find a public place that meets the group’s needs. Alternatively, with the boom of online communication, hosting a zoom meeting is also possible. This does, however, diminish the personal touch that makes a book club incredibly successful.
How to Manage Your Own Book Club
The internet has made things like managing a book club far easier. You can use messaging apps to communicate, set dates, submit ideas, vote, remind people of things like snacks or times. It is easier now, more than ever, to effectively manage a book club thanks to technology.
Beyond the communication side, the other thing you should consider is structuring the meetings. Letting it all just happen can be a dangerous path to take. Instead, you want it to be beneficial for all involved, for everyone to get the chance to speak.
Maybe pose some questions about a book. For example, ‘How did it make you feel?’ or ‘Did you learn anything new from this book?’ Then, consider playing some games related to the book. Explore the internet for literature-based games. Maybe adapt them to the book you’re reading.
Avoid The Ghosts of Bookclubs Past
Communicate, don’t dictate. You may be looking to be the leader, but remember how fine the line between leadership and dictatorship can be. You want everyone to feel comfortable to raise opposition to a book choice or an opinion. You want healthy discussion, otherwise what is the point? Your group will wither away quickly, and you’ll be left with empty chairs.
Listen to others, don’t just ignore their opinions. Sadly, not everyone has an excellent view all the time. Don’t write them off then and there. Talk to one another, share perspectives, and allow individuals in your group to grow and learn from the books and the conversation around these books.
Diversify, don’t always play it safe! A book club will get boring if you don’t test yourself and choose some books that are a little out of your comfort zone. For example, when 50 Shades of Grey came out, book clubs across America devoured the book. It’s hard to imagine what those conversations must have been like when they later discussed the book, but I’m sure they had a great time with it. Some may have been uncomfortable with this, but they likely still did it and learned from the experience.
Avoid making commitments you can’t keep. As the leader, the last thing you want to do is make a commitment and not follow through. Losing the faith of your members is hard to come back from, so only do something if you’re sure you can deliver.
This is important, having beautiful informational poster that you could put in libraries and places of culture could pay off!
Here you have a link of poster I made in Figma if you would like to tweak the greek word and club name or location.
If you are wondering if you really should be doing this, then the answer is yes. The benefit of a book club far outweighs the negatives of starting and running a book club. You get the chance to learn, read more, be involved in a community, create new friends, and so much more.
Bookclubs often expand beyond their initial intention and do so much more than just reading. Books are art, and they are designed to bring like-minded people together to enjoy and connect over. So what are you waiting for?