Friday, January 7, 2011

How to Form a Book Club That Doesn't Suck

I can not say how many women have told me for years that they are in a terrible book club or want to be in a book club but are afraid because they've heard the horror stories involved in one. I will not lie, there are many associated risks involved: members of the obnoxious, forced to read a novel cheesy, dull, insipid conversation, or even worse, the lack of discussion about the book.

At one time I myself was hit by a book club that I have a love-hate relationship with. I love that we read the classics, and exposed me to wonderful books I would never read his own and also to a new restaurant that I always wanted to try. I hate that we never talk about the book.

So what's a girl to do? Form a book club for yourself! Seriously, if you want to be in a good book club, you must take the bull by the horns and form a kind of club you want to be part of. I take this step a few years ago with another woman who is fed up with her book club as well and am happy to say that I am part of a group of six extraordinary women who share a love of reading, great food, and friendship. If you are interested to do the same thing, here are some tips to create your own book club that does not suck.

Network. Find a friend or fellow book lover you know has good taste in people and books, and approached him about starting a book club. Each of you will be charged with recruiting two other like-minded women to complete the club. It's okay if you want to invite someone who likes to read science fiction or biography, or genre that you normally do not like. That's the beauty of a book club, each member gets a chance to choose a book, and you get a chance to expand your literary horizons.

Schedule. Once the group has been established, you must choose the beginning of the book and plan an initial meeting. At the meeting, be sure to have everyone introduce themselves and leave enough time at the beginning and end of the meeting to socialize. It is important for everyone to know each other and, hopefully, become good friends in the street.

Avoid scheduling nightmare. Choose the time set for your meeting. For example, the first of the month at 7 pm Thursday that everyone can plan ahead to keep the date open. There will be times when members can not make the meeting, but believe me, these guidelines will save much time and suffering in trying to get busy with the six women on a regular basis. The amount of time you are allowed to read this book is entirely dependent on the schedule. A book club is supposed to be fun, not stressful tasks or other items on your list. My group meets every month, which allows each of us enough time to adjust to read a book in our schedule.

Location, location, location, and food! Where you have your book club and what you eat is a critical component for a good meeting. The club I mix it, and sometimes we meet at a local restaurant, a lot of fun if you choose a theme restaurant based on food or a new restaurant everyone wants to try. For example, our recent book is The grant, and we all met at a soul food restaurant for a delicious Southern cooking. Sometimes we meet in the homes of members. It just always seemed more relaxed, and I do not feel the pressure of the restaurant owners tried to turn the tables when we linger a big conversation. Everyone in my group at the chip to bring food or drink so the host does not have to give everything.

Structure. A book club meeting should start with a good dose of socializing before the start of a robust discussion of this book, followed by discussion and selection of the next book, and finally ended with socializing more and maybe a dessert or a drink or two! If you do not have structure to your meetings, they will just turn into a chat fests. Do not be afraid to speak up if the conversation is getting off track, or you will never be able to discuss your book.

Good stuff - the selection of books! Each member gets a turn to choose a book. The club I set the order by date of birth, so we have to remember that the next method if we ever forget.

The role of voters is not a book to be taken lightly, because it carries many responsibilities. People choose the next book to come to meetings well prepared with a book or several books he would like to recommend and should present the book and provides a synopsis of the storyline. This person has the right to either say, "This is what I recommend," or he can put up to voting selection. Voters get to choose a book to the meeting and be prepared with discussion topics and questions to facilitate discussion of the book. I have always found the selection of the next book one of the best parts of the meeting. It is great to hear about new books, and I often end up reading a few books that can not be selected. I think the most important tips I can provide for voter book is to put the effort in choosing a great book. For the entire group: Open to read the new genre even if you do not like the choice.

Membership (no boys allowed). I'm a big supporter of keeping the club to six members (eight peaks). If you get more than that, it's hard to get everyone involved in the conversation, or conversation broke up into groups. In the unfortunate chance that you lose members, two founding members should take turns in recruiting new members or ask other members to recruit. It can be dangerous, especially if the group has been meeting for a while and have a good chemistry. The rule of thumb is to discuss new membership as a group, and make decisions together before inviting new members. And it is okay to have the boys ... if the whole group is down with it.

One last tip: During certain times of the year, like Christmas and summer, it is best to choose a lighter reading to fit the busy schedules of the group. And it's okay if you do not get to finish a book. I've gone to many meetings as I have never found the time to read the book but still going to listen to the discussions and enjoying the company of women in my group.

I like the fact that I have made new friends through my book club and also have been exposed to so many wonderful books. Before I joined the book club, I never felt I had time to read, but became involved with this group has given me the motivation to find the time to do something I love.