Book clubs are becoming increasingly popular as more people connect with the array of wonderful stories that are out there. Despite sales of physical books declining, in favor of ebooks to read on handheld readers, it seems that book clubs are flourishing all over the country and indeed the world. For time immemorial, humans have enjoyed listening to stories. Stories connect people, they inspire them and they entertain them. A good story will have characters literally bouncing off the page and time appears to stand still when you’re working your way through a good book.
Who to invite
When you decide to set up a book club, you might choose to organize it all by yourself, or you could ask a friend to be a co-founder. It’s good to have one or two people in charge, if only from an administration point of view, as it gives people a definite point of contact. Some book clubs are very serious with strict guidelines on attendance and book readings, whilst other are far more laid back gatherings, with people joining in, even if they haven’t completed the book, as a few glasses of wine to keep the conversation flowing. It’s best to start off by asking people you know who are avid readers. Even if the club doesn’t spend the entire meeting discussing the chosen book in great detail, you don’t want the emphasis to be on reading, not gossip. If word spreads, you could allow others to join, but you should keep an upper limit in place for numbers, so that everyone has the opportunity to speak at each meeting.
Choosing the books
Again, this is up to you: you could opt to choose every book, or you could open it up to other members to select the book and give a wider range of interests and genres. Start with a well-known book, such as Zadie Smith’s ‘White Teeth’. No, it’s not a novel about teeth whitening products, it’s a character study of mixed race Britain that was very well reviewed and received and has plenty of discussion topics to get your book club up and running.
Choosing the venue
Some book clubs meet up in people’s houses, with members taking it in turns to host the evening. Others decide to meet in neutral territory and you could choose a local café or wine bar for the club. The space needs to be fairly quiet so that you don’t get too distracted but it’s nice to have drinks and nibbles on offer so that the atmosphere isn’t too serious – reading is meant to be fun, after all. Venues might need to be booked up so pick out a good night that suits everyone. This could be the first Monday of the month, or every other Wednesday, depending on how often you want to meet and how many books you think people will be able to read. You could print out book notes, and many popular books now have their own book club notes to help people focus on some of the key issues raised in the story.