3 Easy Steps to Start a Book Club
As a college student, English major, and general nerd, my nose is always in a book, highlighter in hand, and notebook on my lap. However, sometimes I don’t always want to be analyzing the great feminist literature of the 20th century (looking at you, Virginia Woolf), or untangling the theories of Plato. Sometimes, I want to sit down and read a cheap mystery novel, or a weird, far-fetched fantasy novel that’s aimed at a demographic eight years younger than me. Sometimes I want to catch up on the best of the 21st century, or just the year, instead of delving into literature’s past. After bemoaning my lack of literary leisure time to a friend, I was struck by a thought, a moment of inspiration: I need a book club. But how do I start it?
1. Pick a theme.
Tried and true, deciding on a theme will keepy your core group interested and attract new members. In high school I was in a feminist book club with a bunch of other curious teens who wanted to untangle the world of gender norms and thoughts (best read: How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran). In middle school I was in a fantasy-themed book club, where we’d jump from dystopian novels like The Hunger Games by Suzanna Collins and The Uglies Trilogy by Scott Westerfield – both of which I recommend, if you haven’t already read them. Immersed in a subject, there’s more to talk about, more to compare and contrast, and more of a solid foundation of knowledge – everyone is on the same page and understands the text-to-world connections members make, more or less.
2. Decide on the books in advance.
Everyone will want a book to be added to the list, so be strict, and only take recommendations for a short amount of time. It’s unlikely that you’re going to get through all the book titles you amass within a week in the next year what with peoples conflicting schedules, and human nature (read: procrastination). Collect titles that are considered the essentials – for example, the Must Reads in the Historical Fiction genre (Here’s a few titles to start with: The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens) – and stick to those. Once you get through them, explore more of the genre, or move onto another one!
3. Follow through.
This seems like an obvious one, but more often than not, book clubs are doomed to fail. They’re the kind of thing that seems like a fabulous idea to everyone, but in reality, few people can really follow through consistantly. Keep your expectations low – people are busy! They want to be in your book club, but can’t always make every meeting, or read every book cover to cover. Whatever happens, be flexible, and don’t give up – the satisfaction that comes with looking at a long list of book titles and thinking “Read that, and that, and that” is indescribable. Trust me.
What are your tips for starting a book club? Tell us in the comments below!