Book clubs are brilliant. They get people reading, get people talking, and keep publishers and the literary world in business. Literature can unite and divide people and in a good book club, it should do a little of both by encouraging readers to step outside their genre, push themselves, diversify, stay fresh and to come together again at the end of some fascinating conversations. Even with outside challenges right now, you can kickstart your book club and invite fellow readers to lose themselves between the pages. Here are our tips on how to be the best book club ever.
Get the Numbers Right
The more people you bring into your book club, the harder it can be for everyone to have a voice. The higher the numbers, the messier it gets. But then, with too few people – the conversations may stay one-sided and never delve that deep as you won’t have as many multiple perspectives to lean on. Also, don’t be shy about breaking your inner circle and bringing new faces into your book club. Friends are awesome but book clubs should also be about the chance to diversify and keep things fresh.
As of the current climate, it may not be easy for groups to meet in person but this doesn’t mean your book club plans need to go on hold. You can always meet online especially with multi-person communication apps like Zoom. Of course, some may lament the loss of shared nibbles and drinks with an online session, but you could encourage everyone to shake up a literary-themed cocktail to bring to the online conversation. You could also set up a Facebook group page for your book club to encourage out of meeting questions and discussions to support your setup.
Share Decision Making
Everyone already has a million books on their list that they are keen to share, so it's important that everyone has the chance to feel heard. Pick themes, let everyone add to the book list, and then have a vote on what should be your next joint read. Making your book club democratic and having a nomination process makes the whole thing fair. Also, be mindful of different people’s reading speed. Not everyone can finish a door-step book in a week so be sure that you strike a good balance that doesn’t leave people behind.
Diversify Your Reading Lists
As a book club make it part of your responsibility to diversify your reading list. Pick books from authors that cover a wide range of cultures, experiences, and backgrounds so that you can encourage education and understanding in yourself and others. Reading diverse books is one of the first steps in becoming a better ally to marginalized communities. They can also bring out some illuminating conversations around privilege, and they have the added bonus of helping to support writers who are underrepresented in the industry.
Don’t Play it Safe
Don’t shy away from picking a good range of books that have some controversy attached and steer clear of sticking to one genre. The whole idea of a book club is to explore and get excited about literature. Travelogues, non-fiction, fantasy, and even graphic novels and the banned book list – step outside of your genre as it makes for colorful conversation. Of course, when not playing safe with literature, you do need to have some ground rules so that every member of the book club stays respectful to other members at all times. Heated debates don’t need to lead to tears.
Are you a member of a book club? What tips can you share for making it a success. Let us know in the comments.