I got a note from a friend whom I know from book readings and book parties with good questions about starting book clubs.
I recently got asked to join a new book group. A friend is trying to put one together. I know yours is highly successful.
What do you think is the essential ingredient for a great club (aside from great books of course). Any suggestions.
How do you select the books, where do you meet, and how often…. Etc.
Thanks so much.
So I went to the source, our Fiction Book Club, and got replies from two thoughtful and dedicated members. Anyone else have pointers for new book clubs? Chime in, please.
Here's the first:
Some thoughts based on my experience with our book club.
1. Meetings: We meet once a month, rotating among our houses. The host provides beverages, snacks and dessert after the discussion.
2. Timing: We meet at 8 pm and generally the discussion ends sometime between 9 and 10. We also have a picnic meeting in the summer which is pot luck and starts earlier.
3. Book Selection: We've tried different systems, including keeping a list of potential books, but we seem to usually fall back on suggesting books at the end of the discussion and we pick one for the next meeting or sometimes two meetings. We also decided to focus on fiction only.
4. Social Time: Dessert provides the time to catch up with each other and is important for more than the calories.
5. Focus: We work hard to keep the discussion period focused on the book.
6. Intensity: This is probably the most important item for a new club to think about and get right. We have great discussions without any "pressure to perform". Everyone's views are respected, and there is no "conclusion" or "summary" to be achieved.
And here's advice from another member, Ruth Nemzoff, herself author of Don't Bite Your Tongue: How to Foster Rewarding Relationships with Your Adult Children:
As for what makes our club successful. Usually everyone reads the book! We respect each others perspective and never argue about what one person sees in the book. Rather, we expand our own limited visions by hearing what others got from the book. Also the fact that we don't have to prepare in advance a speech like in some clubs takes pressure off, that would be the kiss of death for us busy folks!
I think also that we keep the food simple. No fancy entertaining,( though we are getting more fancy.) But I mean, we don't have to show-off...those who enjoy baking, mmmmm....June's pies, do, and the rest of us buy or cook when we are in the mood or don't when we are too pressured.