Thinking of starting a book club?

Woman reading bookWhilst reading is a solitary pleasure, and one you may well have the luxury of more time for now, to meet up in a group to discuss a book, and then to swap ideas for the next read, has become a highly popular and enjoyable pastime – thanks in no small part to the “Richard & Judy” factor. Their recommendations have brought popularity to a wide range of books that previously would probably not have been read by the vast majority of us.

Setting up a Book Club is easy. Anyone can do it and you don’t have to be at all bookish – just enjoy reading books. It can be both a literary and cultural experience, and your friends’ different views born of past experiences coupled with a dredging up of learning acquired from long forgotten studies can be fascinating.

And it’s a great way of catching up too, so allow plenty of time for chat pre and post the actual book club business You may want to link it to coffee and cake beforehand, or lunch or even supper – though with potential competition on the cake and food front from particularly enthusiastic hosts it is always advisable to arrive a bit peckish!

And although it may seem odd, it doesn’t matter if you don’t like the book, as sometimes the discussions can be far more interesting as a result. If you are stuck for ideas to get the group going, staff at your local book shop will have some suggestions and will probably have a list of suggested Book Club books

To set up the first meeting:

  • get a group of friends together ( 6-8 is a good number) on a regular basis, say every 4-6 weeks
  • agree a time and venue to meet (each others houses on a rota)
  • nominate the first book (a paperback as no-one will be keen to buy a hardback)

At the meeting a few ground rules may help keep a lively crowd focused, so here are some suggestions

  • tea, coffee, cake and a chat first
  • either the host should offer a choice of 2 or 3 books for the next read, one of which the group votes to read and discuss next time, or anyone can nominate the next read.
  • someone (not the host) needs to be a scribe to note the comments and then email them round afterwards, particularly for those who missed the meeting
  • the scribe will also endeavour to keep the group in order and try and stop side discussions whilst the book is being discussed so that everyone hears the feedback. Then the next book is agreed on by the group and a date set for the next meeting, after which chat can recommence.

Book Group Info is an independent site that provides information for Book Groups

If you would like to comment on a book you have read go to the Book Club forum and post your thoughts there.

For inspiration on what to read for the first few meetings try The Times Book Site as it lists top paperbacks of the year, holiday reads and new releases.

Alternatively Waterstones list their top 20  best books of the decade, many of which have been hugely popular with book clubs.

And if the idea of a Book Club doesn’t grab you, then why not start a Food Club?

If reading a book for later discussion it is not really your thing, then you could start a regular “cake and coffee club”. Not as a cooking competition, but nominating one person each month to cook an unusual cake or other form of patisserie (risky triumphs and disasters to be celebrated) and meeting to eat it and chat. If you run out of cake ideas you can always move onto the savoury options. Keep a journal to record the event – and who knows, maybe there is a book in it too to go full circle!