Hosting a book club is a fun and rewarding experience. As host, there’s a lot you can do to make the monthly meeting a success. First, decide on the basics like when and where the meeting will be, and what book your club will be reading. Offer snacks and beverages for your club members. If you’re leading the conversation, prepare some questions about the book and work to keep the conversation going.
Deciding on the Basics
- Select the book you’ll be discussing. Book clubs use lots of different methods to choose new books. Typically, the book selected for the next club meeting is decided during the prior meeting.
- Books on the “100 Best Books” list of a major periodical are good choices, as are current bestsellers.
- Consider both fiction and nonfiction when choosing a book.
2.Choose a meeting place. Some book clubs can be hosted in your home. If your home is too small to host the book club, or if you simply don’t want to host the club meeting at your home, choose a communal location like a library conference room or a cafe.
- If you plan on hosting at a library, be sure to reserve a conference room well in advance of the book club meeting. You might not be able to get one at the last minute.
3.Set the date and time. If your book club has a regular meeting date and time (for instance, 8:00 every first Monday of the month), there’s no need to set the date and time. However, if the date and time of your book club varies, decide when the meeting will occur and let the club members know.
- There are many ways to let club members know when the next meeting will be. You could, for instance, call each of them with the information. You could also send a mass email containing the date and time.If you prefer a more personal touch, you could mail out an invitation with the relevant information.
Facilitating the Conversation
- Designate a conversation leader. The structure of each book club is a bit different, and there are no strict rules regarding how to designate a leader. In fact, some book clubs don’t have a leader at all. However, selecting a leader can help the conversation stay on topic and enrich the book club meeting.
- The book club’s host often doubles as the conversation leader.
- You could also choose to invite a subject matter expert to lead the meeting. For instance, if you’re reading a book about the French Revolution, you might invite a local professor of French history to lead the conversation.
- Alternately, your book club might decide to choose a single leader who runs every book club meeting.
- English teachers, librarians, or authors often make good book club leaders.
2.Look up some study questions for your book. If you’re both the host and the conversation leader, having some questions about the book is crucial to keep the conversation focused and flowing. Even if you are not the conversation leader, though, having some questions ready to ask the group can make your meeting more enjoyable.
- If your book club is reading a well-known book, you’ll probably be able to find some study guides with questions in them online (or in book stores). For instance, if you’re reading 1984, you might run a search like “1984 study questions” through your preferred search engine.
- If you’re reading a book that doesn’t have questions available for it online, read the book carefully and come up with some open-ended questions that can elicit thoughtful reactions from club members.
3.Encourage club members to turn their phones off. Phones can be a serious distraction from conducting an effective book club. Before the meeting begins, ask everyone kindly to turn their phones off. Use a friendly tone when doing so.
4.Ask club members to write down questions or comments. At the beginning of the book club, hand everyone a pen or pencil and an index card. Encourage them to write a question or comment on an index card. Collect the cards before you get started, then read them out loud (or hand them to the conversation leader to read aloud). Invite responses to these questions and comments.
- Having book club participants write their thoughts on index cards can allow club members who are less outgoing to share their thoughts, too.
- This is also a useful method for facilitating conversation on controversial books.
5.Plan to socialize after you’ve discussed the book. Hosting and attending a book club should be fun, but some people like to use book club time to chat with friends. Include a designated social time at the end of the meeting for such off-topic conversations. That way, people who are there to talk and think more about the book get the opportunity to do so.
- If a club member is talking excessively and wandering off-topic, help them refocus their attention on the book with gentle but firm directions.
- For instance, if someone is talking about their weekend plans instead of about what they think of the book, transition back to the conversation by saying “Let’s talk about the third chapter. Was anyone surprised by the protagonist’s decision?”
Setting up Food and Decorations
- Select a theme for the book club. In addition to “regular” snacks like cheese and crackers, look for simple recipes that reflect the cuisine of a particular region, country or setting in the book. For example, if the story was set in Italy, you might serve bruschetta and Italian wine.Additionally, you could emphasize the theme of your club meeting by including some decor that evokes a character or setting from the book.
- For instance, if you’re reading Alice in Wonderland you could purchase some themed items (including coasters, candles, or decorative art) that refer to Alice and her adventures around the meeting space.
- Don’t forget to offer some beverages to help wash down the snacks. Wine, water, coffee, tea, and soda are the easiest options.
2.Find out what sort of snacks your group wants. After deciding on the theme, ask for suggestions from book club members regarding what snacks they’d like, if any. If your meeting does not have a specific theme, simple snacks like crackers, cookies, and crisps are popular options.
- Some book clubs are happy without snacks of any kind. Others leave it to each group member to bring their own snacks. Still others leave it to the host to prepare snacks or hors d’oeuvres.
- When hosting a book club, be sure to ask about food allergies and dietary preferences before preparing a snack.
3.Include some general book-themed decor. Instead of selecting a specific book-related theme for your book club meeting, you might want to introduce general book-centric paraphernalia to set the mood. If you’re hosting the club in your home, there are many options available for sprucing up a regular living room or other space with book club-themed items.
- For instance, you might be able to obtain pillow covers or pillows embroidered with images of books.
- You could place some bookish art (such as art printed on book pages or paintings of people reading) around the meeting space.