For some of us book lovers—this is the question, right? What are some of the pros (I almost typed prose) and cons of book clubs? Why should you want to join them? Well, as usual I don’t have all the answers because I’m not that smart but I have joined in a few book clubs and even run two (one I co-run) so I am at least a little knowledgeable about this particular subject. 🙂
Even as someone who runs book clubs I have a love/hate relationship with them. Let’s first talk about the different kinds of book clubs. There are in-person book clubs and there are virtual book clubs. Either of these could be the kind that are privately run with a few regular participants or they might be super casual ‘join in when you can’ and ‘anyone is invited to show up whenever’ types. Some book clubs are themed around certain topics or genres of books. Really, when it comes to book clubs there is something for everyone’s level of comfort and reading tastes out there.
Of the two book clubs I’ve run, one is an in-person book club that met quarterly at my house for book discussion and tea. This was with my friends who are also readers (I’m super lucky in that). This was a group of anywhere from five to ten people, some of which showed up to every meeting and others who came and went. Eventually it became just five core members.
The other club that I run is online through reddit’s r/fantasy community – one of the many book clubs that is currently being hosted on r/fantasy (I think we have five different ones currently running each month?) This one is a romantic fantasy themed book club. We usually come up with the nominations each month ourselves, hold a poll to see which book wins, and then have a mid-way discussion and a final discussion post. Although sometimes we’re pressed for time and just pick a book and skip nominations/polling. This club is more casual and participants come and go each month, the level of engagement can come and go depending on the book picked.
What is the biggest problem with book clubs? Ummm, getting people to actually read the book! I am super guilty of not even reading the book for the book clubs I RUN (my husband will never let me forget it either). A lot of people might say they’re joining in because, hey, it seems like a great idea at the time and maybe they’ve always meant to read that book anyway, and isn’t this fun? Isn’t joining things fun? Yay! Oh, wait, there’s work involved? I have to read this book and then think of things to say about it? Craaaaap. Welp, I’m out. I mean, let’s be honest, this is just how it goes sometimes. 😉 Also, for mood readers, book clubs can be a bit iffy – sometimes you’re just not in the mood for that book when it comes time to read it!
But book clubs can also be rewarding. You can have an interesting discussion and you get the joy of participating in something, feeling like part of a group. Reading is generally pretty solitary, so joining a club is a way to make it feel like a group activity. You can also make friends who have the same hobby as you do! Sometimes a book is picked that you might normally have never thought about reading — it can be a great way to be introduced to new things or get taken out of our comfort zones once in a while.
Thinking about Running a Book Club?
- Figure out what kind of book club you want to run
- If it’s a private club with your friends see what kinds of books people are into reading and try to make it fun for everyone involved
- Keep things organized – set reoccurring meeting times like once a month or x times a year or whatever you decide
- Make there’s there’s an easy way for everyone to see what book has been selected and what dates the meeting or discussions will take place and where.
- Think about whether or not you want to give people a choice in selecting books (nominating/polling)
- Think about how accessible the book pick is for everyone – a lot of people rely on libraries because not everyone can afford a brand new hardback and audio books should be available for accessibility reasons as well
- Check and see if there are any local bookstores that you can partner with — I know one of our local indies will give discounts if you register your book club through their website
- Think about whether you want to give out discussion questions/prompts at the beginning so people know what to look out for or later or just have a casual discussion at the end
- Know that not everyone is going to read the book
- Or even show up to every meeting
- So try not to be disappointed
Thinking About Joining a Book Club?
- Look for clubs – a good place to check is book stores, they often host book club meetings. Also online! There are plenty of online clubs (psssst – check out r/fantasy!)
- Think about the type of club you’re joining and why you’re interested in it
- Are you willing to make the commitment the club requires?
- If not maybe think about joining in a club that is more casual where you can come and go and there are less expectations
- Read the book!
- If you can’t read the book or attend the meeting and it’s a private club with friends then make sure you communicate it early on that you might have to miss that discussion
- Have fun! This isn’t supposed to be actual work. If you don’t want to read the book then don’t join in. 🙂
- It’s probably a good idea to jot down some notes / thoughts along the way if you’re not given discussion questions up front
- Please do join in the discussions! The whole point is to share your thoughts about the book with others that have read it. You don’t have to be super analytical–you can just talk about what you liked or didn’t like
- Know that not every book is for every reader so you’ll probably have some hits and misses with the books selected and vice versa – you might love a book and someone else might hate it
I think that about sums it up. So, after reading all of this, are you ready to join in a book club? Or are you already in a book club? Leave a note in the comments, I’d love to chat about it!