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Registered: ‎10-25-2010
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How to start a neighborhood book club

Is there any informnation available as to how to start and manage a book club?  For example; how to analyze, how to choose a book, etc.?  I would be grateful for any advice.



Distinguished Correspondent
Posts: 66
Registered: ‎11-10-2009
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Re: How to start a neighborhood book club

I've recently co-founded a book group and here are some things I learned:


- It is important to set parameters: Rigid "rules" may seem like overkill, but in order to avoid conflict and timely book choice discussions it really helps to have a clearly defined "theme" for the group.  Even if your "theme" is going to be anything goes, make sure all members know that there are no exclusions, so discussion about choices can not be narrowly focused.  If your "theme" is "sci-fi" define sci-fi in the context of the group and it's exclusions.


- Don't bank on your discussion "script":  I was able to Google book group discussion questions and get some good generic guides, however, while it is prudent to have questions or discussion guides ready for each meeting, I like to just open up discussion at the beginning of each meeting by asking "So, does anybody have any strong feelings or burning statements about the book?".  This usually gets us rolling right along on a good discussion, especially if the opinions are split.  The guides do come in handy though, if your discussion starts getting off topic or out of control and you have a time limit you want to keep to.


- Get everyone involved:  Some groups have a leader or administrator who chooses the books each month, but what we do at the bookstore is ask each person to bring a couple of selections to the selection meeting and as a group we choose one of each person's choices.  This ensures that everybody has a voice and I personally feel that it makes people more inclined to keep participating.  


- Book Choices:  If you are concerned about making good selections, or even about putting together a discussion guide, look for books with guides included.  Many books have discussion questions in the final pages, and on the site this is usually pointed out on the book details page.


- Getting Followers: Admittedly, I have not been able to attract new members for my group outside of the few I recruited from work at it's start.  Some of the things I have tried though: Make a craigslist post, Start a blog describing the group's focus, listing selections and meeting times/places, and summarizing the meetings after they occur, Visit your local bookstores: most people who work at bookstores do so because they love to read!  Make a simple flyer up and ask a manager if they would be so kind as to post in the break room.  You may even be able to host your book group in the store if you like and get a mention in the bookstore's events calendar or get random customers interested in joining in.


- HAVE FUN!:  Remember, this is supposed to be fun, so don't get too caught up in the mechanics of running a group.  Choose books that sound interesting and make the discussions a relaxing, enjoyable activity for yourself.



I hope this is helpful, and wish you the best of luck in your adventure!