How to Start Your Own Reading Group or Book Club
Pros of Book Clubs/Reading Groups
- Become friends with other avid readers
- Develop of a new understanding of the written word
- Discover new writers and new books on the market
- Create an avenue of free expression
Book Clubs or Readings Groups have been a part of society for many generations. Within these close nit groups, develops an intimate relationship between reader and writer. This connection is built through the members of the clubs or groups who participate in monthly or bi-weekly meetings. Generally these people would come together to read the same work or a work within a specific theme or genre. Together they would discuss the work in length while connecting to the words of the writer who wrote it. In most cases, the members of the groups are close friends and rely heavily on these groups or clubs to enhance their ability to comprehend and articulate the written word.
By the end of this article one should be able to:
- Understand the importance of book clubs/reading groups
- Be able to create your own book club/reading group
- Organize book club/reading group meetings
- Create a community of fellow readers
- Invoke the creativity of the writers being read.
Book Clubs/Reading Groups By Author
While many book clubs read works by several writers spanning several genres, there are some that particularly read the works of one author, genre or theme. In this case, a book club who focuses on an author generally picks one author, usually a writer of good rapport who is an award winner. In some cases the author selected is an independent or lesser known author. It's generally up to the decision of the group. These clubs, upon meeting, generally attempt to understand and relate to the common themes and devices used in their works.
For example, a book club who focuses on works by William Faulkner, may review his use of stream of consciousness in his works and his use of the small town setting in his works. Book clubs who focus on one author generally meet bi-weekly or monthly to discuss, in this case, William Faulkner works that the a member has chosen to be read.
Book Clubs/Reading Groups By Theme or Genre
While some book clubs focus on a particular author, there are many out there that focus on a genre or thematic element on which to choose their books. A book club focused on the fantasy genre may choose authors like J.K. Rowling, Terry Goodkind, and Piers Anthony in which to read. Book clubs focused on thrillers may read Stieg Larsson or Dan Brown. When a club is focused on genre there are many authors in which to read and to analyse.
In addition to analyzing the author's style, viewpoints, and themes, the group will also discuss common elements in which the genre they read and analyse in an intimate way. They may discuss the concept of prophecy and foresight in fantasy, the concept of plague and disease in science fiction, and the concept of loss of identity in a horror. Groups who focus on broader works generally have more to discuss and may be able to understand devices they had not understood before.
Creating Your First Book Club/Reading Group
Create A Book Club Community of friends, family, co-workers, colleagues, and others in which to share a love for literature and for the written word. This community of people can be created by meeting people in person, the internet, your local library, neighbors, or your family members. By doing this, you are enabling others to become a part of your interest group. Within the group consists of others who also love reading books and discussing this.
If you're having trouble creating a community of fellow readers, go online and do research. You can also start slowly and attempt to gain others through the word of mouth. There are also plenty of book clubs already established in which you can be a part of. If you can't create your own, just join another. Through this experience, you may be able to ascertain what works and what doesn't in a group setting. Use good judgement of what sort of members you would like to have in your group as well as the type of literature your group would read.
You can use many sites such as Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and others to meet and greet with people online. You don't have to know the people in person. Discuss online or via video chat. Your options are endless!
Host Discussions with members of your community. You can do this by creating a chatroom, blog, forum, etc. Just gather your friends and family to the specified place and just have conversations about books and literature. It's that simple. Get everyone excited about the written word!
Make Connections with those in your community. Become friends by sharing interests and experiences. It takes one little nudge from you to get a dialogue going. Swap stories and fears and goals. It's just like making real friends. Sometimes this is the most important job in creating a club or group of any kind. Get in touch! Make new friends!
Take Initiative to get things in order. Create a schedule of events or something for everyone to check in with. Send out emails and remind your friends that you're still there and you're interested in creating this group or club. Try to get them excited and remind them when you can of how much fun it will be. Don't be afraid to take initiative with the intention to make plans.
Make plans by sticking through with you initiation of getting your community on the same page. Send out an email with a plan to meet up in person, online, chatroom, etc. Make sure they're aware of all that will occur at your meeting and use your communicative skills to organize an awesome first meeting. All it takes is consistency.
Stay Consistent by sticking to the plans you make. If you all are to meet on the first of each month, make sure that happens. Don't change things suddenly without consulting the group. Keep things consistent in order to make it easier for your community of friends who love books. Make sure you're changing just to accommodate one person, but the group as a whole. If Thursdays seem bad, make sure you clear it with everyone, and then change when it's necessary. Don't change things according to your feelings, but for necessity. Stay consistent with formats, attendees, and discussions to take place. Also stay consistent with your Book Club/Reading Group's tastes in books, topics, etc.
You're structure can revolve around the group's preference. Sometimes a leader is chosen to be over the meeting and sometimes the flow is a bit more relaxed. This depends greatly on the group. A leader or the group as a whole will likely fit these particular moments into the Book Club/Reading Group meeting. Here is a list of things you need to have structured into each meeting.
- Book Discussion
- Topic/Theme Discussion
- Meet and Greet
- Administrative Matters
Book Club/Reading Group Meetings
A book club/reading group meeting may occur bi-weekly or monthly depending upon what meets the schedule of its members. Generally there are snacks and refreshments provided with other entertainment a possibility.
Generally the group would gather in a member's living room, a library, or some other place to discuss the book they had decided to read at the last meeting. This meeting generally goes in a slow pace, allowing each individual to give his or her opinion of the book. Though generally this happens towards the end after the members have had a chance to unwind and enjoy refreshments while also waiting for other members to arrive. Members who have not finished or read the work are still asked to come anyway.
A member or leader will then commence the book discussion with prepared questions, in some cases, analyzations, and observations gathered from reading said work. Each member can speak freely and be joined by other members if they desire so. This allows for a very comforting and relaxing environment. Though it's not uncommon that an intense debate may arise over the structure, dynamic, style, or theme of the work. These things are discussed in length of the facilitator, leader, or group as a whole has decided to end the meeting.
Bi-Weekly Vs. Monthly Meetings
Book Clubs/Reading Groups can choose to meet at any frequency they wish. Sometimes a group may wish to meet Bi-Weekly or Monthly depending on time restraints and other such instances. In this section, I will discuss the difference between each set up.
Since reading a full book can take a while for most people, a Bi-Weekly meeting will suggest the meeting is to discuss the progress that everyone has made. The discussion will be over portions of the book that the person with the least progress has reached. That is, if someone has only made it to chapter five, whereas the rest has made it to chapter eleven, chapter five and prior would be discussed. This is very similiar to when a class discusses a book prior to their desired end date. Though usually, the later chapters are discussed regardless. Then again, that's school. So if you like that format, go for it! It's easy and takes less time. Though you will have to meet twice as many times.
A Monthly meeting consists of a full meeting in which the book is discussed in length. The person who has not finished will unfortunately be apart of the conversation regardless. By then you are expected to have finished the full length of the book and are prepared to discuss its themes, devices, plot, and characters without great difficulty. These meetings are more common because it's a bit easier to meet once a month over bi-weekly. When considering meeting frequencies think of things like:
- The reading level of every member: Some members may take longer than two weeks or a month to read certain works.
- The costs of refreshments twice a month versus once a month.
- Time that each member has. Some restraints may call for a bi-monthly meeting versus the other two frequencies.
- Difficulty of the work plays a part as well. If you are reading a particularly difficult work it may be prudent to have a bi-weekly meeting to make the writing clear for every reader. Or it may be quite long. Longer books may require a long amount of time to read the work. Sometimes it's safe to discuss each book prior to reading and discuss a good amount of time for said book to be completed.
Are You A Part Of A Book Club Or Reading Group?
Book clubs/reading groups are a great way to make new friends, new connections, and a new love for the written word. Within these close nit groups, individuals are able to express their love for books and be able to discuss them in a relaxing and open environment. Creating one of these groups is a great way to connect with other book lovers and have fun while discussing great works of literature. Those who can't create their own can always find a group nearby in their neighborhood, local library, or among friends. Book clubs/reading groups are a great way to wind down after a long week or month, relax, and talk about books. There's nothing better than that!