How to Organize a Book Club That Will Actually Stay Together
Have you started a book club only to see it fall prey to the slow fade? Gathering your bibliophile friends every month can be a challenge, which is why we checked in with book club expert Julie Goler. A professional moderator of monthly book discussions in Los Angeles, Goler is the real deal. (Her longest-running group has been meeting for 18 consecutive years.) Here are her seven most important tips for organizing a book club that has serious staying power.
Tip #1: Keep the Group Size Intimate
The goal of a book club is to create an intimate space where everyone has an opportunity to be a part of the conversation. The larger your group gets, the more difficult this becomes. “A group of 12 to 15 people is ideal, with ten being the minimum for a good discussion,” says Goler.
Tip #2: Ask Everyone to Make a Commitment
“Asking people to make a commitment to the group is more important than asking them to commit to finishing the book,” says Goler. Reserving one night out of every month for friends, food and meaningful conversation is important to maintaining this community—and your sanity.
Tip #3: Share the Responsibility of Hosting
Take the pressure off of one person by ensuring that everyone pitches in. That doesn’t have to mean rotating hosting duties, since not everyone will feel comfortable having the group in their home. Instead, some members should be tasked with bringing snacks or a bottle of wine.
Tip #4: Set a Consistent Meeting Date and Start Time
According to Goler, sticking to a time and day of the month is the surest way to keep attendance high. Decide as a group which day typically works best and agree upon a start time. She also stresses the importance of ending the discussion right at that predetermined time to respect everyone’s work, family and other commitments.
Tip #5: Curate the Right Mix of Book Titles
Creating a compelling reading list may be the most rewarding yet difficult aspect of organizing a successful book club. Goler suggests selecting two nonfiction titles per year, along with two pieces of classic literature. The remaining eight should be works of literary fiction, which place an emphasis on language style and character development. (Think less 50 Shades of Grey and more Toni Morrison and John Updike.)
Tip #6: Designate a Moderator for Each Meeting
Prevent your book club from turning into The Hunger Games by selecting one person to lead each meeting. The moderator should do a little extra research on the text for context and create a list of questions and focus points for discussion.
Tip #7: Have Fun
OK, so this is our tip (not Goler’s), but in our mind, the most important factor for a successful book club is that members actually want to go. Don’t stress about having the most intellectual conversation or making the best baked Brie appetizer. Relish in the fact that you get to hang out with your friends and talk about books once a month and just enjoy it.
For more expert tips, follow Julie’s Book Groups on Facebook!