I have a long commute to and from work every day so when I decided that I would like to join a book club, I really wanted to find one that was close to my home. The search began online with on a regional forum that covers my area. I asked if anyone knew of any book clubs and got a string of responses saying no, but if there was one, they would join. Eventually there were so many potential members that we decided, on the forum, that we would arrange a meeting in a local pub to talk about starting a book club.
With no idea how many would attend, I contacted the pub and asked them to reserve an area for us. They fenced off a corner and even provided some free finger food for the first meeting in the hope that if we got up and running, we might be regulars thereafter.
About 12 people attended that first meeting. I brought along a list of books from Oprah or the Richard & Judy book club so that we would have something to go on if we decided to set up a group. Enough of us were interested so we picked our first book and arranged to meet again in 3 weeks’ time. Fewer people turned up to the next meeting and, over the following couple of months, some came and went but a hard core group of five of us soon settled into a routine. We have been going strong for three years now.
There is a lot to be said for meeting locally – we all live in the same village and, when the weather is good, we can walk to our meeting. We take in turns to choose the book and we do our best to read it. There are no punishments for those that don’t manage to finish.
Perks of starting a book club
One of the unexpected perks of starting a book club is that it is a great place to pick up news about what is going on in the area and to get recommendations for local tradesmen when you need a job done around the house.
From time to time, we rent a DVD if there is a tie-in to what we have been reading, and take it in turns to host the DVD nights. Catering extends only to popcorn and snacks. No cooking allowed! We usually share a bottle of wine and, being local, it helps that we can walk home.
We have even had a couple of nights out – for dinner, shows, and so on – and again, because we all live in the same area, we can share a taxi home afterwards. We don’t have in depth discussion about the books – we simply chat about what we have read and then choose the next book. Because it is a small group, we all attend all of the meetings. If someone can’t make it, we reschedule more often that we go ahead. Being part of the club forces us to read beyond what we might choose left to our own devices and that has been one of the successes.
So, if you are thinking that you would like to try starting a book club, my advice is to consider setting up one in your own area. It is easier to grow with a group than to find your place in an established club. If you decide to go for it, I wish you every success and happy reading!