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So, You Want to Start a Book Club?

The other day, I decided to take a little break, kick back, and watch a movie. Of course, as soon as I signed onto Netflix, I was sucked into the vortex of ‘meh,’ ‘not feelin’ it,’ and ‘maybe some other time,’ and just as I was about to abandon ship, I stumbled on “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.”

To sum it up without giving away any spoilers, the movie is about a little book club that forms on the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation of the Channel Islands. (Fun fact: I could be totally wrong, but I’m pretty sure a few of the main characters’ outfits were actually vintage pieces from the 1940s, which is always fun for costume buffs.)

But when I looked a little deeper into the movie, I saw that it was based on a 2008 novel of the same title by authors Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. So naturally, I decided to add it to the list of books for my own tiny book club.

Before we delve into how to create a book club of your own, it’s worth noting that we readers are usually pretty solitary creatures. We spend our free time curled up in nooks and crannies wearing the coziest clothes we can find, and we rarely “go out,” because nothing could possibly be as exciting as the worlds we find tucked between black and white pages.

That being said, we are human, and sometimes it’s important to socialize. But that doesn’t mean we have to go to the club, or a bar, or a concert (unless you want to, of course). So if you’re an avid reader, who spends too much time alone, joining a book club–or starting one of your own–could be a great opportunity to make new friends (both real and fictional), without even leaving the house.

So, how exactly do you organize your first book club meeting?

1. Find Friends

First of all, you’re going to need at least one other person to read along with you. But when I say one, I really do mean just one. It’s okay to start small, and it’s okay to stay small. In fact, my own book club is more of a reading partnership than a club. Every once in a while, another friend or family member will join our duo, but most of the time, it’s just me and my second cousin, Jenna.

2. Pick a Book

Photo by Laura Kapfer on Unsplash

There are a few different ways you can go about doing this. If you’re chill, and don’t have anything pressing to read, just say, “Hey, what should we read?” And whatever book is mentioned first can be your first read.

However, if you’re worried about fairness in a larger book club, you could assign each person a week to select a book, or even do a drawing, and throw a few titles into a hat. If you’re disappointed by the selection, don’t be. One of the greatest things about book club is the opportunity to read something that you may not have picked on your own.

In my own experience, Jenna’s picks are always better than mine, so my method of selecting a book is often just to ask her what’s on her reading list, and then hop on board!

3. Pick an End Date

Once you’ve selected a book, you need to set a date for when your first meeting will be. This isn’t just so that your book clubbers can put it on their calendars, it’s also to give everyone a timeframe for completing the book. If you simply say, “We’ll meet when everyone’s finished reading,” you’ll never finish reading.

And speaking of meeting, remember that not all book clubs have to meet in person. For example, my book buddy lives on the West Coast, and I live on the East Coast. Through the magic of cellphones and the internet, we’re able to have book chats without any problems. (Granted, we do have to provide our own snacks.)

4. Take Notes as You Read

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s really important to take down a few notes with page numbers as you read. If you don’t, chances are, you’ll forget where that amazing quote was by the time book club rolls around, and then you’ll be sad, and your sadness will seep into the universe, and then the universe will be sad, and when the universe is sad, everyone is sad. And everyone’s sadness will be all your fault. So, yeah. Take notes.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Talk

Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

Finally, don’t be afraid to share your ideas. The best part of book club is coming together to discover how a certain piece of literature impacted those who consumed it. Maybe the whole club will absolutely love a book, maybe you’ll be divided, or maybe you’ll all despise something and fantasize about having a book burning club. (But, no. Don’t actually burn your books. That would be sad.)

But in the end, regardless of the number of people, what books you read, or your reactions, remember to keep an open mind. Literature is all about communication and discussion, and sometimes listening to the ideas of those around us can help us develop a greater understanding of ourselves.

Do you have a book club? If so, how did you meet your book buddies, and what was the last book you read together?

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