Wednesday, March 14, 2012
8 Ideas for Hosting a Dynamic Book Club Meeting
I 8 book clubs.
What does a group of women excited to discuss a book they’ve read and ready for good convo make? A mother of a good time.
I love my book club. I’m energized by the diverse group of women in my book club. They add value to my reading experience.
I’m constantly taking notes on what friends do in their book clubs. Needless to say, as a women’s fiction author who writes books primed for discussion, the idea of ladies gathered to discuss books thrills me.
If you feel like your book club might be getting a little stale, or if you’re interested in some ideas to get the conversation juices flowing, or even if you simply desire to put a creative spin on your next meeting, this post is for you.
Theme for Food & Décor
Say you’re discussing The Paris Wife, you might wish to pick out an assortment of French cheese and a nice French wine.
Dog bone shaped cookies for The Art of Racing in the Rain.
Or if you’ve read The Language of Flowers you can get creative and search the index of flowers in the back of the novel, buying one for each guest and attaching a note with its meaning.
My friend served all brain foods when we discussed Still Alice, a story about a neuroscientist who discovers she has Alzheimer’s. Berries galore.
Involve the Author
Authors love to be informed when their book has gotten through to you. Many authors today have websites or easy to find contact information. Consider asking whether the author is open to Skyping during your meeting or even throwing out a question for the group to discuss. Nothing like a personal touch.
Prepare Questions in Advance
Most books come with questions in the back (often labeled Reader’s Guide). But if for some reason the book of the month doesn’t, come up with a set of open-ended thought-provoking questions that are sure to trigger conversation.
Don’t Force Book Talk too Soon
This one seems small, but it’s actually huge. It’s important for members to feel comfortable with one another.
Allow time for casual conversation, letting topics flow freely. However, at some point designate a time to transition to book talk.
We always know it’s time when someone moves away from the food (alas) and leads the rest of the group to the comfortable chairs.
Tap into Resources
There are incredible guides when it comes to book clubs today. Sites like Goodreads and Bookmovement.com are wonderful to explore when you’re debating your next book choice.
Also, check with your local library. Ours is fantastic. The librarians make an effort to call around, collecting enough books for our entire group (as many as 10-12). This is a great way to offer an alternative to having to buy the book.
Keep Conversation Open
If you want a lively exchange, one where all parties feel safe to share their opinions (even if that means they hated a book you loved) it’s essential all members know that all thoughts are welcome.
Encourage unique impressions. Offer validating responses. Appreciate how the room lights up with new ways of seeing the world.
Connect with Members between Meetings
Set a standard way of contacting each other between meeting times. We have a Facebook group. Whenever I need to check the time of our next meeting or if I’m curious what others thought of a specific book, I hop on Facebook and click on my Book Thieves group.
Another idea is to combine two book clubs for a novel party.
Switch up Who Selects Book
Some groups like to meet and plan out all their books for the entire year. If this works for your group, stick with it. But another way to go about this is to have each member in charge of selecting for their month of hosting.
This mixes up the style of books that might frequently get chosen and it enables all members to have a role in participating, therefore encouraging their commitment as a member.
What are some book club best practices that you’ve experienced? Heard about? Are you in one? Why or why not?