Starting A Book Club

I am often asked about how to start a book club. It is actually quite easy: ask two friends, have them ask two friends, then they ask two friends, etc. When you have the number of members you want, twelve is a good number, you will find that you have quite a diverse group with various backgrounds and life experiences to make for good discussions. You will also have acquired many new friends who you will become close to rather quickly.

We have set up guidelines for the club. They are: read the book, be a hostess, RSVP to the hostess, and if you drop out, notify a member.

It is the job of the hostess to research the author and possible book reviews. She starts the meeting with information she has found. This usually gives us a better insight to the book we have read. We have found the author's personal life experiences are, many times in their book. We discuss the characters, (even the minor ones who usually get overlooked, but they are there for a reason), the time era, culture, is it believable, and style of writing. Sometimes we will have a readers guide which can be obtained through the publishing house. This can aid in the discussion with questions we hadn't thought of. We once used Cliff Notes but didn't agree with a few of their notes at all! Even using reviews, you need to remember that this is just one person's opinion- not the only correct answer. We sometimes wonder if we read more into a book then the author even intended. Through discussion, we can take what we think is a mediocre book and through each others interpretations and insights, walk away thinking " Wow, what a book!" Some of us use post-its to mark certain passages to read out loud, if we have a  question, or to bring out a point. There have been times when a member will have a question and another member will have marked it and will be able to respond.

The hostess also reserves the books at the library for us. We are very fortunate to be part of a library system that has many copies of the book we select and they order them for us a month ahead of time. We rarely need to purchase a book. It is also up to the hostess to maintain order during the discussion so that we don't talk on top of each other or separate into private discussions which is easy to do. When that happens, we miss out what others are saying.
 
We meet the 4th or 5th Tuesday of the month. In December, we have a Christmas Party and a book exchange at a member's house. We have a secretary, me, who maintains an updated address list and book list.
 
In October, a hostess list for the following year is passed around for members to select a month to hostess. This way, there is no last minute search for a hostess. If a conflict later arises, members will gladly switch months.
 
Good luck with your new book club.