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Literary Book Club - How to Start a Successful Literary Book Club

meeting meetings don’t reading

Many book lovers have the idea of starting their own book club so they can spend their spare time reading their favorite books and discussing them with friends. Certainly, this is the basis of what a book club is, but if you want to know how to start a successful literary book club that continues to meet for a long time, then you need to dig a little deeper. And be prepared to put in a lot of time and effort.

Choose a location to meet book club members
When you choose a location for your book club, remember that initially total strangers will be a part of the group. Many people meet at their homes, but at least for the first few gatherings you may want to arrange meetings at another location. When you get to know the members, you can decide whether you want to change the location to your own home.

Find passionate members for your literary book club
For a successful book club, you need passionate readers. You don’t want to rely on friends and family unless they have a love of reading. This is almost like a business meeting. Post an ad in the local library, at bookstores, churches, and in the local newspaper. You want to attract people who don’t just like to read, but who like to discuss the books they have read. This type of member will keep the meetings interesting. Make sure you have enough readers so that if a few drop out or don’t show to some meetings, you still have enough to generate full and fruitful discussions.

Set the stage at your first meeting
Prior to your first meeting, create a reading list and hand it out to the members. Have them take it home and ask that they add their own requests also. You will have to take all the lists and create a master list that sets out a reading agenda, at least for the first year. Additionally, you want to create a list of questions to prompt readers for feedback. Again, have them bring this home to add their own ideas. These are not questions that have to be answered, but rather prompts for readers to think about as they are reading. You will finalize this and hand one out at every meeting for the upcoming book.

Set out the ground rules at your first literary book club meeting
Your first meeting should be about rules. Discuss meeting rules and include questions such as: Are there meetings during holidays? What happens if a member doesn’t read the book? Do other members have responsibilities? What is the member count limit? You should also establish a specific time for meetings, like the first Tuesday of the month. This way you don’t need to keep nagging members about dates and times or juggling other member’s schedules. If members know ahead of time, they can arrange their other events and activities around the book club meetings. During this first meeting, you should also have members introduce themselves briefly and discuss which books they’ve enjoyed.

Offer a small selection of snacks and drinks
Members can decide if food and drink are allowed at meetings and if so who provides it. Maybe arrange for members to take turns. The important thing to remember about food and drink is that you cannot offer too much. This is a literary book club not a gourmet club. Don’t let your members be distracted by filling up their plates and discussing recipes.

Research professional reviews of literary works
After you have read each book and made your own observations, research what professionals have said about it and take notes. You can bring up these points if it looks like the discussions are lacking substance. The tone of your feedback should not be similar to a teacher asking students questions. You are the moderator, so you need to keep the conversation flowing if it seems to be dwindling off in another direction or stuck on a topic. However, you are an equal member in the discussions, so don’t lead the conversation when it is not necessary.

If you find the right members and select some great literature, your literary book club will thrive and become a very enjoyable event. People love to discuss their favorite topics, especially those who find pleasure in reading great works of literature.

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