A book can take you on an adventure. It can take you back in time to the days of King Arthur’s court, or it can take you across the ocean to unexplored lands. A good novel can take you inside the mind of a president or the heart of a beggar. The beautiful thing about these fabulous adventures – they’re affordable, and you can enjoy them with friends.
When you make a commitment to yourself, you may or may not follow through. Being part of a group keeps you motivated and introduces you to titles you may not pick up on your own.
Besides the important social connection of a group, reading keeps the mind active. A recent study has shown increased participation in activities that stimulate the brain, like reading, may delay the onset of dementia-related memory decline in older seniors.
A book club gives participants a regular social gathering to look forward to. Plus, if you’re a person who has a hard time sleeping, a daily routine of sleeping before bedtime can help you relax and may help you sleep better. If vision is an issue, most popular titles are available as audiobooks, so more people can take part.
The first step to forming a book club is finding people who love to read. Get the word out: invite friends and ask them to talk to their friends, put up a sign on the bulletin board in your community. Ideally, you want enough people to have a good discussion, but not so large that people don’t have a chance to speak. A group of six to twelve people is an optimum number.
The location you choose will help determine the tone of your meeting. A library or common area will offer plenty of seating and a large table for discussion; hosting it at home may create a more cozy and intimate setting. If you choose a regular day and time for your gathering—for example, the third Thursday afternoon of every month—your club members will get in the habit of keeping the time open.
If you’re a fan of the classics, you may want to focus your book club selections exclusively on that genre. Maybe you prefer bestsellers, romance novels or autobiographies; if you’re going to invest the time to get together, make sure you’re talking about a subject that engages you. If you’re feeling adventurous, leave it open to each club member’s discretion. You may want to give your club a name; the Westmount Sleuths tells everyone that this is a club for mystery buffs.
Once you have a theme, how serious do you want the club to be? Book clubs range from scholarly to social. It’s a good policy to express your concept of tone, so people come to the meetings with the correct expectations. The organizer should also let the group know how often you intend to meet. Once per month is quite common, but it could also be every three weeks if you’re all active readers. How long should meetings be? An hour and a half to two hours gives you time for lively discussion.
Does a different host moderate at each meeting? Let’s say Bob is hosting the June meeting and Cathy is hosting the July meeting. At the end of the June meeting, Cathy should be prepared to offer her book selection and have an alternate title in case too many people have already read her first suggestion.
If you would like to form a group with friends in other cities, or if mobility is an issue, consider starting a Facebook group. It’s easier than you think.
As you can see, there are lots of compelling reasons to start a book club: it’s fun, it’s social, and it’s even good for the body and soul. Enjoy your exploration; worlds upon worlds are waiting to be discovered!