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)