8 Tips for Starting a Book Club That Isn’t Just a Wine Club
We’ve always been avid readers (and not just because of that intoxicating old book smell), and since Emma Watson debuted her book club earlier this year, we’ve been feeling super inspired to start our own club with the bookish babes in our lives. Here’s the thing, though: More often than not, book clubs quickly become wine clubs. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with a little wine with our literary chats, we’re ready to bring our brains to our book club and leave the Drake and RiRi gossip to Saturday night cocktails. With that in mind, we’ve put together eight tips that’ll get you and your ladies on the literary up and up in no time.
1. Make it a mix of friends and strangers. The quickest way for your book club to turn into an hour-long catch-up sesh is by only including your besties in the mix. Have friends invite coworkers, sisters-in-law or gym buddies who don’t know each other for a well-rounded group. The result will be a circle of passionate readers coming from different points of view and will make for some truly enlightening discussion. Trust.
2. Don’t opt for anything too hard or too easy. Sure, choosing a fluffy romp like The Regulars will ensure everyone can finish the book on time, but probably won’t elicit much discussion beyond “I liked it!” Likewise, trying to dig into War and Peace may be a bit too ambitious for an hour’s discussion (or to read in one month!). We suggest choosing contemporary, character-driven novels like Donna Tartt’s The Secret History or Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff to spark passionate, thoughtful conversations. To mix it up, choose books in different genres, like travel or sci-fi, to intro the group to things they never would’ve read on their own.
3. Use digital resources and book club websites. A major reason book clubs start to fumble is because they’re not super organized. We get it — it’s already tough to fit in time to read your monthly book, let alone manage the club and spark a fun discussion. But creating a Google Doc for book recs and extra info and a calendar event will make everyone feel more connected (and accountable). Better yet, make your club official and create a place to share with each other on Book Movement. Also, don’t let something super fun and enriching like a book club become a burden! Tap into book ideas and ready-to-go discussion guides from Emma Watson, Reese Witherspoon and readinggroupguides.com.
4. Designate a new discussion leader for each book. It works best if this person also chooses the book, since giving everyone a sense of ownership of a meeting will encourage your ladies to participate in a real way. This person should also come equipped with questions, thoughts and any interesting antidotes about the book or author to help facilitate the discussion if it gets stuck. Better yet, have this person send a few (non-spoiler) questions or share interesting related news articles or info about the book a few times before the meeting.
5. Talk to the author themselves. What could be more exciting for book nerds than talking to the author? Author chats over speaker phone or video chat are actually pretty easy to arrange and they’re free. We repeat: This awesome perk is FREE. Email the author, let them know your book club chose their book, let them know the day and time of your meeting and see if they can attend. Publishing houses like Knopf Doubleday and Random House also have request forms online. You’ll be talking about this meeting and all the things you learned straight from the source for a long time.
6. Play an ice-breaker game. Literary-themed or not, playing a game will relax your group and get the convo flowing. Break out a quick game like Bananagrams, or create a book-themed game to facilitate discussion. Go beyond trivia, and play a few of Lit Lovers unique games (Alphabet Soup and Extend the End sound super fun!), or have each person read the funniest tweet they found about the book.
7. Encourage people to donate a book for a mini-book swap. If you’ve been reading with your group for a few months, chances are your members have bonded over more lit picks than just the monthly read. Ask members to bring in a recent read they recommend for a mini-book swap. We’re not gonna lie, free stuff is definitely a draw.
8. Switch up the location. Find a comfortable coffee shop, wine bar or living room that everyone can afford, and you’ll definitely make book club harder for people to pass up. Members won’t only look forward to the discussion, but visiting a cool new wine bar or solid fave cafe. The more comfortable and convenient the spot, the more you’ll want to linger.
Which book is your book club reading next? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know what we should add to our list!
(Photos via Getty)
Welcome to Selfmade Finance School, our new money series with Block Advisors to help small business owners with their tax, bookkeeping, and payroll needs year-round. This week, we explore the tax implications of bringing family members into your business.
The question for today is this: Does hiring your family members make sense for your business? Let me be clear. This is not a piece about whether hiring your family members makes sense for your relationships with those family members. As someone who is part of a family business, I could fill up a lot more than 600 words on my opinions about that. For today's purposes, we focus on whether it makes sense from an overall "good business and tax implication" perspective. As it turns out, there is a decent amount of tax nuance when it comes to employing your family. Let's break it down based on relationship to the employee:
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Spouses Who Are In Business Together
Personally, if I had to be in business with my husband, it would not go well. However, many couples build viable, strong businesses together and I say, good for them! Depending on how you have your business entity structured, it will make a big difference on the tax treatment of you and your spouse working as partners. Because a business jointly owned and operated by a married couple is generally treated as a partnership for Federal tax purposes, the spouses must comply with filing and record keeping requirements imposed on partnerships and their partners. The election to file two Schedule C (Form 1040) forms, (one for each spouse) permits certain married co-owners to avoid filing partnership returns, provided that each spouse separately reports a share of all the businesses' items of income, gain, loss, deduction, and credit. Under the election, both spouses will be subject to self-employment tax and on net earnings from self-employment and receive credit for Social Security earnings.
One Spouse Employs Another
If you have a dynamic where your spouse is an employee of your business, then your spouse's wages are subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes. If you are self-employed (not a corporation or a partnership), your spouse's pay does not have to be included in your federal unemployment tax account (FUTA) contributions and payments. However, if your business is a corporation or a partnership you must include that spouse's pay in your unemployment tax contribution calculation.
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You Employ Your Child
First, let's be clear. I work in my family business, but I am an adult, so I am treated just like a normal employee. However, if you, for example, run a family restaurant and want to hire your children under 18 to work for you, there are some tax benefits. But first, you should check with your state for rules on how many hours minors can work (in non-agricultural jobs) and reference the Fair Labor Standards Act for information on limitations on the kinds of work children can perform.
"This is an often overlooked or under-utilized strategy. Paying your children for true services they provide in your business can be a powerful tax-saving tool," says Cathi Reed, Block Advisors Regional Director. "If you are a sole-proprietorship or single member LLC, and the child is less than 18 years of age, the business is not required to withhold FICA or payroll taxes. The child can use his or her standard deduction against income you pay."
You Hire Your Parent
Oh dear. If you are brave enough to do this, know that you will need to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on your parent's wages and make the appropriate withholdings, but you don't have to pay unemployment taxes. Now all you have to do is convince your parent that you are the boss. Have fun with that!
Is Hiring Family Members Worth It For The Tax Benefits?
"There are some positive tax advantages to hiring family members. It's important to treat a family member like any other employee. Hiring your children can result in substantial savings for businesses. Make sure your child has real, age-appropriate work to do and a reasonable pay rate, comparable to other employees. Consult with a Block Advisors small business certified tax pro to ensure that you are complying with all requirements," advises Reed. "Block Advisors, a team within H&R Block, is dedicated to meeting the tax, bookkeeping and payroll needs of small business owners year-round. To start working with the tax experts at Block Advisors, visit blockadvisors.com."
In my opinion, you should not hire a family member solely because of the tax benefits. You should always hire based on whether that person is right for the job and keep in mind how this hire could materially impact your relationship with that person and others in your family. Finally, as I mentioned, make sure you have a tax professional on your team when making these determinations. As you can see, things can get a little tricky!
*All details were sourced from IRS.gov and blockadvisors.com