I love our book club. But running a book club is something this introverted girl had never done and I ran into a few challenges that I didn’t expect. I wanted to talk about how our book club changed and evolved into the amazing and fun group it is now and share with you the things I learned.
Yay! We Have A Book Club! What Are We Going to Read?
At first, we drew book selections from a hat. The goal of this was to avoid the pressure of trying to pick something everyone will like. If you come with one book and no one seems excited about it but they liked everyone else’s books, it kinda sucks.
But then it was too much of a hassle and we ran into the problem of not everyone getting their book picked since it was random. It was a little unfair. So we went to the style where the host for that month just picked the book. That worked for a while but it came to the point where the hosts were picking things the majority of the group had read or didn’t want to read. It led to a few book bashing sessions which hurt some of the hosts feelings. That also sucked.
The best way to pick books is a combination of the first two sucky methods. At our Christmas Party, we have everyone bring three book choices and present them to the group. Then we vote as a group which to read. Each person has the freedom of picking something to read and the group doesn’t get stuck reading something that most of us have read.
Picking books can make or break your book club. If, for example, you have a genre based book club, people will agree on the selections but you have to be very picky about who you let in. No one will have fun in a YA book club if one person really hates YA. You’d basically have to kick them out and that really sucks. I made the mistake of assuming that because I like reading YA everyone else would, too. I was surprised at how diverse my friends reading tastes really were. So our book club evolved into a more eclectic, try-new-things type book club which is fun. It’s just not the YA only book club I had thought it would be. To me, though, it was more important to have a group that functioned for my friends and it didn’t matter that much to me what we read. Make the book selections fit your members or find members that fit the kind of book selections you want.
Can I Be In Your Book Club?
One of the biggest things I should have established at the beginning of my book club was how big it was going to be and who we would let in. I didn’t think about this because 1) I thought no one would come so it never occurred to me that we would get TOO big and 2) if no one is coming then we can just let anyone in. Our book club was quite small at first but since I hadn’t established any rules the group quickly grew exponentially. I didn’t want to be a snobby book club with trials for new members and stuff like that, but if our club got too big we literally wouldn’t be able to function. We reached 12 active, participating members with about 5 that came occasionally. If everyone did decide to come, we wouldn’t fit in some of the hosts living rooms and we’d be shouting at each other to be heard. So we established the rules of who to let in and the max number of members about a year after we started. We settled on 12 members max so each person could have a turn to host and we decided that only people in our neighborhood could come. I’ll be honest, it was really hard to establish rules after the fact without hurting some of the members feelings. I even got emails asking if they were still allowed to come. It broke my heart! Learn from me – set up the max size and who is allowed in very very first even if you think your book club will never grow.
We have the regular host rules. Whoever’s book is that month is where the meeting will be and the host will have treats. This is more of an unwritten rule. We just like eating and talking :). The host also gets to run the discussion of their book. Each member can bring something they want to discuss, but the host usually has discussion questions. Without a discussion leader, our group would often break off into smaller groups and the book that the host lovingly picked and lots of people spent time reading barely got discussed.
Facebook, Email or Letter by Owl?
I’m lazy. I wanted the fastest, easiest way to communicate with the book club. We started with email but I didn’t feel like the group communicated with each other. Email is very one way. I didn’t realize getting books for members was even a problem until a few months in! Good communication in a book club is so important! Long story short – here’s why Facebook Groups kicks email’s butt for communication.
- I can make events with dates, times and locations on Facebook that people can join and Facebook will remind them for me. I got many, many texts and emails asking what the next’s month book is and when the next meeting is and where is the next meeting. It’s a lot of work to answer all those individually. Facebook makes a one place stop for everyone to find that information easily.
- It’s easy for me to communicate to the group from my phone. I could never figure out how to send a group email from my phone. Even if such a thing is possible, it doesn’t compare to how easy it is to post in our Facebook Group and everyone immediately sees it. I would often procrastinate sending out reminders for book club because that meant I had to boot up my laptop (ugh so long!). Sometimes people would forget to come because of it. Totally my fault.
- Only people in our group will get updates. Facebook Groups can be closed meaning only members see what is posted in there. I also like how Facebook will tell me how many people saw a post on there. I always wondered if anyone was even getting my emails….
- The group can communicate to each other! I think this is the best feature. Now anyone can get on there and ask to be next in line for the book, or for the recipe from the meeting last night, or ask questions about the book as we are reading.
Where Did You Get That?
Like I said earlier, I found out a few months in that members were having a hard time finding the books we were reading. Our local library usually has one copy of any book (if they even have it). Since our library system isn’t county wide like the rest of the libraries in the whole entire state, if our local library didn’t have it there wasn’t any other way to get it other than buying it. So we all pitched to pay for the library system in the neighboring county because they have better selection (they have 60 copies! Of one book!). I would often be able to bring a stack of next month’s book to each meeting. My library allows me to check out 8 books at once so I can bring enough for everyone to read and pass around. Having the library account just for book club makes it so I can still use my own account for myself and my kids. If you don’t have an awesome library (my condolences) then I would establish the precedent of people having to buy the book every month in order to join. I didn’t think it would be very nice to just spring that on the members after they had been coming for a few months. I didn’t want money to keep members away that wanted to come, so a book club library account worked out really well for us. When our book club didn’t have it’s own library account, our members sometimes wanted to read the book but couldn’t and so the discussion would move away from the book quickly because a lot of people in the group hadn’t read it.
In case you are wondering, the book club library account is actually under my name. I am personally responsible for all the books that are checked out. We have such a great group that I have never had to hunt down a book. They appreciate the favor of my getting the books for them and they return that favor by making sure to always get the books back on time.
What We Are Reading This Year
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
- Seedfolks by Paul Fleischman
- In The Heart Of The Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick
- Heaven is Here by Stephanie Nielson
- Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
- Think Like a Freak by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
- These is My Words by Nancy E. Turner
- I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
- Wonder by R. J. Palacio
- The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
- The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
One of the girls in the book club made these great bookmarks! She did the design herself and got them printed at OvernightPrints. They are great quality and our club LOVES them.