Is your book club in a well-worn rut? Are you satisfied but not stimulated? Has your book club become as predictable as the ending to Pride and Prejudice?
Well, in the spirit of spring renewal, here are 10 field-tested tips to help revitalize your book club and encourage your members to reengage!
Photo by Gallebee
As the moderator of BookClubClassics.com, I have the opportunity and pleasure of reading about the various ways book clubs run their meetings. When I create a custom kit for a book club, I ask the club member to complete a short questionnaire describing their club’s routines, habits, preferences, and challenges. From this experience, I have discovered 10 unique ways that clubs get the most out of their selections and each other.
Eat, Drink and Be Enlightened!
1. Themed Potluck – each member brings a dish to share that symbolizes some aspect of the selection. One club even asks each member to guess the connection between the food and the book before noshing. (For example, chocolate chip muffins to represent Ann Patchett’s Run).
Party On, Dear Reader!
2. One group asks each member to bring an object that symbolizes the one character the member connected with the most. (Like a copy of de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex to symbolize Mamah from Nancy Horan’s Loving Frank).
3. Another asks members to each bring the one sentence that was most meaningful to them (and then explain why).
4. The moderator of one group plays music that connects to the selection as the members arrive. (She chose the music from Titanic for their recent meeting on A Thousand Splendid Suns).
5. The leaders of another group, who recently bought my kit on A Thousand Splendid Suns, actually dressed up as Maryam and Leila!
The Discussion’s the Thing…
6. A club who recently ordered a custom kit on Anne Enright’s Man Booker winner The Gathering rotates who asks the question – one member is responsible for bringing the questions, but then the questions are passed around throughout the discussion. (This ensures that every member’s voice is heard!)
7. Another group puts the questions in a hat and asks each member to choose one to read aloud.
8. One group, who ordered a kit on Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, made sure that each member of the book club received the questions and background information prior to the meeting. You could then ask each member to choose a favorite question from the list to ask at the meeting.
Who’s the Boss?
9. Determining leadership and book selection can be dicey. My group suggested that each member should be responsible for their birthday month.
10. The club who recently ordered Carson McCuller’s The Member of the Wedding assigns someone other than the person who selected the book to lead the discussion.
Each of these ideas asks members to be more involved and therefore encourages members to be more invested – in reading the selection, attending the meeting, and engaging in the discussion.
Not sure how your beloved book club would react to altering its established routine? Consider pairing up with another leader and serving as co-leaders. Sometimes it is easier to try new ideas when you have a partner in crime!
Now it’s your turn to share! Does your book club have a creative or effective way of accomplishing any of the above or of getting members engaged? Please share your ideas in the comments! Or simply state which of the above you think you might try with your book club…