Article by Ceri Wheeldon
Setting up a book club is a great way of having regular get togethers with a group of friends. I started a book club about a year ago. Currently there are five of us who come together every four to six weeks . The evenings are informal, we take it turn to host, and take in turn to choose the next read.
So what have we learnt and what tips can I offer as a result?
- Decide how serious you want your book club to be. Do you want to engage in an in-depth analysis of each book (there are lots of sites were you can download author’s notes and discussion topics for book clubs) or do you want the evening to be more free flow where the book forms the basis of discussion. In our club it is very much the latter – and we have found that our books have sparked lots of related discussions on current affairs.
- Who to invite to join? A good idea is to start with one or two friends and ask them each to invite a friend. A variety of interests and ages is great for encouraging a wider choice of book- and conversation.
- Fiction and Non-Fiction? Do you want to limit the choice of genre of book? Do you want to include biographies? Decide up-front so that there are no arguments later.
- Think about the length of the book you are selecting. Will everyone have the time read the book selected if you suggest a particularly long one? Be realistic. One of our book selections was The Goldfinch. It happened to coincide when I had a couple of long haul flights so I had the opportunity to read it. I enjoyed it – but two members of our group were unable to finish reading it before we met up.
- Accept that not everyone is going to enjoy every book that is selected – but it is an opportunity to discover new authors
- Decide what hosting involves. Is it tea and biscuits? Cheese and wine? Be clear.
- Agree to disagree! Not everyone’s reaction to a book or the issues it might highlight is the same.
I really enjoy getting together with the ladies in my group – two were existing friends (who didn’t know each other at the start) and I have now become friends with two new people as a result. We decided to keep our group small so that hosting is easy and nobody feels under pressure.
And just in case you’re curious, this month’s book selection in my group is American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld. It’s all about the life of a woman who becomes First Lady of the United States. I’ve not started it yet – and have not read anything by this author before. Should be an interesting read ?