Starting a Book Club

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Starting a Book Club

If you’re an avid book reader, why not share your passion with others by starting a book club? These tips should help you get going:

How many people? And where?
The group size depends on the space available for book club discussions. If it’s your living room, you may have to restrict yourself to fewer than ten people. Bear in mind that if the number is low, and attendance isn’t adequate, your discussions will be affected. Consider a library, restaurant or relatively quiet pub.

Whom to recruit?
Diverse viewpoints make book clubs engaging, fun and stimulating. Besides book-loving friends and colleagues, consider throwing the field open by advertising at local bookshops, libraries and grocery stores to attract book club members.

Setting guidelines
Once your book group is formed, decide on some basics at the first meeting. How often will the club meet? Once a month is the norm, to discuss a single book. Fix the venue and time and let everyone work their schedules around this.

What you'll need on book club day
Members can contribute in several ways to keep the book club discussions proceeding smoothly. Assign these roles to volunteers before you meet:
  • A host to send out invites ahead of the day, welcome members and get them settled. He/she could also provide refreshments.
  • A moderator to introduce topics and lead the discussion.
  • A time-keeper to ensure that discussions begin and end as scheduled and don’t get mired in any one topic.
Formulating questions
  • Before the discussion, each member could write down one question. Some examples:
  • How does the story setting influence the plot?
  • What are the book’s underlying themes?
  • Do the story’s characters appear lifelike? Can you empathise with them?
  • Are there aspects of the book that unsettle you? If so, why?

Picking the right books
To choose books, group members could pool in suggestions, discuss them and vote on these to make a final choice. Devoting an entire meeting to finalise several books in advance helps save time in subsequent meetings.

Fiction books make for stimulating, enjoyable discussions. Good writers create memorable characters we can empathise with and situations that offer scope for varying interpretations. Non-fiction books help you gain in-depth knowledge about a hitherto unknown topic. However, do select writing that is engaging; avoid books with extreme views that could offend members or create tensions within the group.
For selecting books, look at library/bookshop reading lists and book reviews or just browse around in bookstores. The books selected should be readable in a month.

With a little forethought and organisation, your book club will be up and running, adding value to your love for reading.

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