Monday, February 8, 2010

Book Club Origins

I've offered to host a single event for a meetup group that is generally about socializing and meeting new women in the Kansai area and I've agreed to do a book club style meeting. Essentially, we're doing a one-time book group meeting. If things go well, I'd like to try to do it again in the future, but given my travel schedule I'm not entirely possible when or how that would work. Still, I'm having so much fun planning for this one, that I'm seriously thinking it might be time to start my own group in Seattle as well.

In that vein, I'm really looking for suggestions about how to run a successful group. I've seen some tips from "professionals" but what I'm more interested in is how a particular group works and if the members are generally happy with the dynamic? For example, do your book group members all get to vote on a title that they'd like to read? Is that democratic approach working for your group or does it stymie things? Also, are there differing expectations about how much time the group will spend on socializing and chit chat vs. book discussion? I suppose you could try to make that clear with your group during the initial meeting, but is there an ebb and flow to membership that is to be expected during the first few months as people work out whether or not the group is a good fit for them?

I'm dying to get back to some book chat with real people and the local public libraries in Seattle have monthly book groups, but I wonder if that approach, or even advertising through say, leads to a really transient group of readers. And maybe that's not a bad thing (I'm making an assumption here that a more regular group of readers makes people more comfortable with engaging in dialogue with one another).

Please feel free to share your experiences! I'd love to hear if you were part of a terrible book group and what made it terrible. Likewise, I'd love to hear about successful groups! Any thoughts are appreciated!

Cross-posted on: Everything's Better With Books


  1. Let's see. #1 is to get the book club to actually read the book. I have had far too many meetings with different clubs where I was the only one who read the book, or others where others skimmed the book then wanted to talk about something else. If your members are Japanese then they'll probably be more compliant, though!

    I've seen groups vote on titles, and I've seen groups let each member pick something. The latter gives everyone a say, but there's a weird pressure where if people don't like the book you chose, it feels like your fault.

    One thing that definitely helps is to send out a reminder of the meeting -- a few days beforehand, meaning in time for the slackers to do some quick reading.

    Good luck!

  2. I'm very curious about what kind of chit chat is book chit chat in a book club. Do people prepare questions or just talk about how they feel about the book? I've obviously never been to a book club, and...I'd like to do something like that for an advanced conversational English class, but don't know where to start!

  3. Oooh no experience (other than watching the Jane Austen Book Club and that won't help much as you're already married!) but I'd love to hear what you come up with as I'd love to be in a book club...

  4. How fun, good luck with your book club!! I have never been in one, so I have no good suggestions. Although eating cupcakes strike me as a good idea to compliment the book chatter. When are cupcakes NOT a good idea?