Sunday Salon: On Starting a Book Club

The Sunday SalonSince moving back to Florida nearly two years ago, I haven’t been part of a book club. I really like getting together with some other people and talking books. Who would have guessed that from a book blogger?

Anyway, I’ve participated in two different book clubs. One was organized by an English teacher when I taught high school, the other was through an alumni group at my law school. I was the only student who regularly attended – even after first semester finals, because I just couldn’t miss the opportunity to talk about how much I HATED Anna Karenina.

Anna Karenina and Vronsky

Y’all are not cute

Oh, did I mention I didn’t like this book? No? I Did. Not. Like. This. Book.

Two other characters I don't care about sitting at a table

If this is the scene I think it is, it is absolutely RIDICULOUS.

Deep breaths.

Ok, moving on.

Anyway, I was thinking I’d like to start a book club. Probably with some people from work, and maybe they could invite a friend or two.

So, I want to know – have any of you started an in-person book club? If so, any tips? And if you haven’t, but you’ve participated in one, what did you like or not like? What would you want a book club to look like?

Any and all thoughts appreciated! This is definitely is the baby-planning-step stages at this point, but I can’t imagine it would be too difficult to put together.



8 thoughts on “Sunday Salon: On Starting a Book Club

  1. I was feeling pretty much the same way about a year ago and managed to put one together – it’s still going strong! My friend and I pooled together a group through Facebook, which is still how we decide our meeting dates and share information, and have been reading a book a month since. The group has shifted quite a bit since the beginning, but now we have a pretty solid group of 6 or 7. I think the biggest thing is to decide and make clear up front what type of group you’ll be – we established that we would be reading literary fiction and non-fiction, we were going to be really casual (we all have lives, no one would be kicked out for not reading a book) and our meetings would focus on the book, but would also be about spending time with one another. It’s worked out great.

      • I think most book clubs stick to fiction, but when we were first discussing what our general reading “personalities” were, we found we all liked non-fiction. They’ve actually ended up being some of the books with the best discussions (especially when we read Going Clear!), but I definitely think you need a group where everyone is willing to go that route.

  2. I’ve both been part of a face-to-face (f2f) book club, and I’ve started & led a couple of them, too.

    My biggest advice is to have someone to keep things on track. You can talk about things other than the book, but always try to bring the conversation back around to books — as that’s the main reason you’re gathering.

    The one book group I belonged to was great, and I loved the ladies I met with, but our meetings always ended up as “gossip sessions”, and that bugged me. We would talk about the book for maybe a half-hour, but then the other 3.5 hours were all just gossip. That is mainly the reason I eventually stopped attending.

    I would aim for about 12 members, as that seems to be a good number. More than that, and it’s hard to focus. And, you’ll always get only 1/2 to 1/3 of the people not showing up for meetings.

    Also, we would choose our entire year’s reads at our September meeting (9 months’ worth) — everyone was asked to bring 2 suggestions. All suggestions went into a hat, and 9 books were chosen. Then we discussed what order to read them in. Members took turns hosting at their own homes. We’d meet September through June, and take summers off. Potluck meetings in December and June. One person as the “receptionist” (emails the list of books to everyone, keeps everyone informed of meeting dates, etc).

    MizB (feel free to email me if you want more)

    • lol – I’m usually the “keep us on track” person 🙂

      I love the idea of picking your books a year at a time. gives people plenty of time to plan.

      Thank you for such a great response!

  3. I started my own club a few years ago and have loved every second! My biggest advice is to keep the club casual and welcoming. That makes people want to come even when they aren’t particularly thrilled with the book. As for the books, our best discussions have often been books that divided us or that we DIDN’T like, so don’t feel pressured to find the perfect book. Food and wine also work wonders.

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