Arts & Entertainment

Start a book group

By Amy Catlin
Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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women looking at a book
A book group is a great way to discover new friends and new books
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"The pleasure of all reading is doubled when one lives with another who shares the same books." - by Katharine Mansfield

Love to read? Love to talk about books? You should start a book group. Book clubs, book groups, reading groups, whatever they may be called, offer the opportunity for book lovers to share their passion for books while socializing with new characters, both on the page and off. Here are some things to you will want to consider if you decide to start a book group.

How and How Many?

How will you find your members? Let's say your sister calls you every night to see if you have finished that new mystery she lent you so she can finally spill how she feels about the ending or when you and your best friend Jane go out for coffee on Saturday morning you always seem to end up sipping your steaming cups while pondering the back overs in the romantic fiction section of your favorite bookstore. These are your first members.

One of the many great things about starting a book group is the opportunity to meet new and interesting readers that will no doubt turn into friends through the course of your literary travels together.

To generate new members it's a good idea to go where other readers go; book stores, libraries, coffee shops. Talk to the people there, ask if you can post a notice of your plans to start a book group. You can also post your notice to local online portals. Email is a great way to communicate your ideas about starting the group while getting feedback from your potential members.

How many members do you want in the group? The ideal group is neither too large to meet cozily at someone's home or too small to allow for occasional absences among members. Larger groups can work well if you want more diversity and are willing to meet at a larger venue each month. Smaller groups can be more intimate and usually develop more friendships.

Where and When?

Where will your group meet? Some groups meet at the same neutral location each month, such as a library or restaurant. Others take turns hosting the group in their homes. For your first meeting you will most likely want to select a neutral location, a coffee house or even a book store if you can arrange it, choosing this location might inspire some ideas for your first selection.

When will you have your meetings? Typically book groups meet once per month to discuss the previous month's selection. A set meeting date each month, such as the 2nd Monday or some other date that works for your group helps the members to make the group a priority in their schedule.

Selecting one person to be the facilitator for the group and book each month helps to keep the meeting flowing and offers a chance to learn more about the background of the book or author.

What?

What is your group going to read? What is your favorite genre? What and who are you excited about reading? Your group can be specific to a specific genre; romance, mystery, non fiction, or even poetry. Or maybe you want to expand your reading horizons by trying new authors and genres, and you might find a new favorite. These are some questions to think about when you start a book group

It's a good idea to ask that prior to the first meeting each potential member take some time and compile some information about their reader preferences for discussion at the first meeting. A couple of ideas for information sharing:
  • Twelve books they would like to read
  • Favorite books of all time
  • Favorite authors
  • Favorite genres
  • It might also be a good idea to include information about what topics or genres do not appeal to them.
During the first meeting you can share and compare these lists as a method for deciding what books you will read.

Some groups decide at the beginning of each year which books will be read and who will be the hostess or facilitator for each month of that year. Other groups develop their list throughout the year, selecting favorites from the group or branching out to include new releases.

Many popular works of fiction offer discussion group guides, these can be helpful when the group is new to get the discussion flowing when the personalities are not yet established. Some of these can be found online or at your local bookstore.

Some books offer discounts for groups. You might try checking with your local library or bookstore about this possibility.

Another great idea to maximize member participation, you might want to have each of them write a book review - it'll ensure that everyone is up-to-date on their reading as well as help people share their thoughts and opinions on the literature they've read.

Here are some ideas to add some fun to your book group:
  • Build time into each meeting for socializing. And remember the food!
  • If several members share the same favorite book, read it as a group. This offers a way to learn more about the members.
  • How about a theme, with the food and dress matching the setting in the selection.
  • Make a reading road map. Each month add your new listing. At the end of the year you can take a little time to recap your travels.
  • An end of the year holiday party is a great way to celebrate the group. Each member can bring a dish inspired by their favorite selection of the year. It might be fun to have the other members guess what inspired their selection.
  • Find out if there are any authors local to your area and make one of their books your selection. See if it would be possible for them to come and speak to the group.
  • If your group likes cooking, select a cook book one month. Everyone selects a favorite recipe from the book and shares it with the group at the monthly meeting.
  • Let the local press know about your group. You might offer to let them help you celebrate your year anniversary by doing a short story about your group. This is a great way to let others know about your group and perhaps add new members.
  • Keep a scrapbook. Add member pictures, add information about the books you have read. You could even keep a blog. This is a great way to leave a legacy for the group.
      So what are you waiting for? Start a book group, it's a great way to meet ne

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