February 3, 2016

7 Tips for Hosting a Successful Book Club

Book clubs are a great way to be introduced to books you might not typically read while giving you the opportunity to talk about books you love with great people!

When I mention to someone that I'm in a book club, they almost always say, "I want to join a book club!" Today, I'm sharing some tips for running a successful book club based on some of my experiences with past and present book clubs!

I'm in two different book clubs here in DC and I've been in a few in other places I've lived. Every book club is remarkably different and some tend to be more successful than others. (Successful in the sense that meetings occur consistently!) I've pulled together a few tricks of the trade that have contributed to some of my favorite and most successful book clubs!

1. Have a designated meeting date or time. One of my book clubs meets the third Tuesday of every month. It's always penciled into my calendar so that I never double book. Of course, things always come up - work happy hours, friends in town - but I think that having a set meeting time really helps everyone make a commitment to be there.

2. Set up a rotation for book club picks. I've been in book clubs where someone volunteers to host the next month at each month's meeting, but as someone who starts stressing about my next pick two months in advance, I prefer when there's a rotation. Depending on how many are in your book club, you might only have one pick per year, but I think that's plenty!

3. Give everyone a vote for each month's pick. If one of my book clubs picks a book that I really don't want to read chances are, I'll skip that month's pick. On Goodreads, you can create groups and host polls. When it's someone's turn to pick a book, they can offer 3 suggestions, and everyone can vote! If there's a tie, you can have everyone vote again, and you can always include the books that lost out on the following month's poll. Chances are, you already have two dozen or more books on your TBR list so you're less likely to read a book you really don't want to. By having your book club do a poll, everyone gets a vote!

4. Use technology. I mentioned Goodreads Groups, but Google and Facebook Groups work just as well. Make sure you're using a platform that everyone has and checks frequently and keep it consistent. We usually send out polls for my book club two months in advance to give everyone ample time to find the book (library wait lists in DC are brutal!) and read it.

5. Mix up your locations. I've had book club meetings everywhere from friends' living rooms, to coffee shops, to vineyards. Mix it up! If someone is hosting, turn it into a pot luck! Some of my favorite book clubs have featured taco night and a baked potato bar! The most important thing though, is to keep the location convenient for everyone. In my book clubs in DC, we have people who live in Maryland, DC and Virginia, so we try to keep locations somewhat central!

6. Be open to different genres. A healthy book club is one with a lot of opinions! My favorite book clubs have always been where there was a lot of discussion abotu the book. A book that everyone loved isn't going to make for a great discussion, which is fine! One of my book clubs is about 60% social and 40% book discussion and the other is about 80% social. I think they both work well, and some books will lead to longer discussions. As long as everyone is open to reading books they might not typically read, you'll have a good discussion. One of the books for my next book club is The Martian, a sci-fi novel, which I've typically stayed away from, but I'm open to it!

7. Be mindful of how many members you have. One of my book clubs has a strict head count. The other is a little bit more free flowing. Not everyone is going to make it to every meeting, but you want to make sure that if the majority of people are there, you can all fit somewhere! You also want to be open enough so that someone include their bff that just moved to town.

Every book club is different, which is awesome! I think book clubs are such a wonderful way to meet people, socialize, find new books to read, and have something to get excited about.

One of my favorite book clubs is much less traditional. For a few years now, Carolann and I have been sending each other books that we love and then Skyping to talk about them! We typically send books a few times a year and it's a great way to keep in touch with a long distance friend!

Are you in a Book Club? What are some of your tips for success? Looking to start a book club? Email everyone you know in your area and find out whose interested! I hope these tips help you out!

Happy Reading!

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