Chirped by Cass and Tina
A book club is a great way to meet new people, share book discussions and experiences with a group of friends, and get you out of your overly quiet nest. Cass started her own book club in 2005, Tina has been in three different book clubs since 2001, for a while all at once! Our mutual book club participates in a fundraiser for childhood cancer. For one of their benefit events last spring, we put together a how-to “Book Club in a Basket” as a raffle prize. Maybe this post will inspire you to start up your own book club, give you some ideas for putting together your own great raffle basket for a cause you and your friends support, or add a little extra spice to your existing club’s next gathering!
Book Club in a Basket – A Starter Kit for Beginners
So you want to start a book club? It doesn’t take much! Just a good book, a few friends who like to read, and your calendars. Next pick a venue, add some refreshments (or even some book-related props?), and you’ve got the makings of a fun gathering that will open up new horizons not only in what you read, but also what you get out of reading. So round up some friends! This basket will jump-start your first meeting!
My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, by Fredrik Backman. (3 copies) From the back cover: “…a story about life and death and one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.” Written by the author of A Man Called Ove, it’s a book about unusual friendships and solitary characters connecting and strengthening each other.
While the ideal size of a book club is probably six to nine people, certainly three is a good starting point. If your group is larger, award your two extra copies to the first two people to RSVP! (Or return the extras to Barnes & Noble, with included gift receipts, and pick out your next two book choices instead.)
Book-Related Goodies: (some could be party favors awarded to members who “get” the reference, others make tasty refreshments while also loosely connecting to this particular book!)
- Wine (2 reds, 2 whites): for the Sea Angel
- Coffee (both caffeinated and decaf): for the Princelings, George, Mum & Halfie?
- Hot Chocolate: from Alf to Elsa
- Double Chocolate Dreams Recipe, cocoa & chocolate chips: for Elsa, the Chosen One & the Wurse
- Chocolate filled Pirouettes in a Tin: for Maud to fill with more Dreams, or Granny to “smoke”?
- Graham Cracker Scooby Snacks: for the Wurse
- More Cookies: for the Wurse
- Hand Sanitizer: for the Monster
- First Aid Kit: for Granny
- Lint Brush: for the Princess of Miploris
- Clip Board: for the Girl who said No
- Letters to My Grandchild: Write Now. Read Later. Treasure Forever: small book of starter prompts for letters the group could write to their own grandchildren! We picked ours up at Barnes & Noble, but it’s available at other online sites, too.
- Discussion Questions: Our copy of the book had questions at the back, but if yours doesn’t, just search for readers’ guides online or see our link here.
- Post-Its: for YOU, to tag noteworthy passages that you want to refer back to at book club!
Some Notes on Getting Started…
How you set up your club is really up to the friends you have gathered. As a group, you need to decide how often you want to meet, what kinds of books you want to read, and what duties will fall to the host versus the attendees. Tina’s been in three different clubs, all with very different approaches to these questions. Mostly they’ve read recently released and well-reviewed or recommended novels, memoirs, biographies or histories, with an occasional older classic sprinkled in. Often there are questions to spark conversation right at the back of the book, but you can usually go online for ideas or just wing it, depending on how naturally “discussable” a book is. Some clubs have a strong social component that sometimes has to be reined in so that you have time to actually discuss the book, too! It usually falls to the host to direct (and redirect) the conversation when it wanders off-topic. Other clubs choose to minimize the socializing and have more structured discussions. As for the logistics of your get-togethers, your club must decide what works best for the group. Here are a few examples of how that might look:
Rotating Hosts: Tina’s first club met every January to propose and vote on nine books for the year, then took turns hosting each month on a date set by the host at or soon after the preceding meeting. Word to the wise: inevitably a couple of hosts would change their book because some new hot release beckoned, or because the book they’d originally chosen/been assigned turned out to be a dud. The group didn’t meet in September or December because everyone tended to be over-scheduled at the beginning of the school year and around the holidays. Each member only had to host about once a year, as there were typically nine to twelve people in the club at any given time. All the other months they just had to read the book and show up – easy peasy!
Restaurant Retreat: Tina’s second book club was a smaller group (six people) that met at a local BYOB restaurant once a month where we ordered apps and desserts to share and members took turns as “host”: picking the date, choosing the book, bringing the wine and picking up the tab. Hosting at your home was also an option, but this way no one had to clean up or cook. Because of its small size, sometimes we didn’t meet at all in the summer because it was too hard to get a quorum with members’ varying vacation schedules.
One-Host Wonder: Our mutual club typically meets at Cass’s house on the last Sunday of each month. This is a fun club that typically pairs proposed books with related activities, outings, and/or menus. The book’s sponsor sets the food and drink theme and each member brings refreshments accordingly. Since many of the members are teachers, this club chooses TWO books per month in the summer, when there is more time to read.
Every book club is a little different. Have fun building yours, and Happy Reading!