So this year, about a month ago to be more exact, I started a YA book club through work. Every month, we meet to discuss a YA novel for an hour where there’s chocolate and a nice cosy atmosphere and I LOVE IT!
So far we’re only met twice but both have been wonderful. To be able to chat openly about writing styles, characters, themes, settings, etc. with like minded people is a joy and is something that I would have loved to take part in when I was younger too.
I’d totally recommend having a quick search of your local libraries, book shops or general area to see if there are any book clubs that you can pop along too but if not, there’s nothing stopping you starting your own! Whether it’s just a group of your friends spending some quality bookish time together or you’re open to getting the community involved, here are my top tips for making it successful!
- ADVERTISE IN ADVANCE
Getting the word out about your book club in enough time for people to keep the date free is really important. It also gives you more time to ensure that the announcement can be seen by as many people as possible. In my personal experience, I began to advertise about a month in advance of our first meeting and ended up with four, wonderfully chatty and excited, people turning up which was brilliant! You’ll always have time to build up more of a following but that first meeting is super important to keep your initial attendees coming back.
- SELECT YOUR FIRST BOOK CAREFULLY
You want to choose a book that is new, well-known or has a buzz surrounding it to help draw people in. If you choose something super obscure or not very well known, it may be more difficult to get people to attend. Pop culture is powerful and it’s definitely something to be taken advantage of here.
For our first meeting, we discussed One of Us is Next by Karen McManus – a fairly new release that was the newest book in a popular series that was a real customer favourite at our store. And it worked!
- KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE
Decide beforehand if you’re looking to start a book club for kids, adults or any other group that may appeal to you. Of course, this can always be subject to change if something’s not working out but it’s really helpful when planning your reads and scheduling your meetings.
- PLAN THE TIME/DAY WISELY
Linked to the above. There may be things that you need to work around when considering what time/day of the week to hold your meetings. If you’re hosting a book club for children, you’d need to work around school hours but also take note that a lot of clubs happen at the weekends. For adults, maybe it’s work hours, especially if some work late or away from home. It sounds simple enough but it’s worth thinking about to ensure that as many people as possible are able to attend.
As well as that, you also want to think about the frequency of your meetings. It should be long enough that everyone gets a chance to read the book despite a potentially busy schedule but often enough that it feels worth going. Currently, my book club meets once a month which I feel is a good compromise.
- BE OPEN TO EVERYONE
If you’re running a club for a specific demographic, be a little lenient with who you allow to come. If someone has seen your advertisement and seems interested in the book and meeting with you, be open to it.
For example, my book club is for YA (usually 13+) but one of our attendees is 12 – as long as they feel comfortable with the books we pick and their parents have no issues, I’m happy for them to participate. This also links to your book choice. If you’re catering for someone a little outside of your main demographic, ensure that the book is appropriate for them. If it’s not, have a chat with them and come to a mutual decision about what to do.
- PREPARE QUESTIONS
Even if you’re not looking to have your book club meetings stick to a structure, prepping a few questions or discussion points can help to avoid awkward silences and help to engage more of your members to incite more conversation. Personally, I have a general question list and one more tailored to the book in discussion which I leave out on the table. They’re only a guide but something that people can refer to if they’re stuck for something to contribute.
Here’s a list of some basic questions that you might want to ask!
- INTERACTION IS KEY
Every book club needs someone who’s ‘in charge’ to help guide conversation and to ensure that it remains a group activity. This person needs to be able to interact with all members of the group, encouraging their discussions while also guiding it between themes. Getting everyone to interact with each other is really important so finding ways to make this more natural is key. Whether it’s a general ice breaker or introduction, this really helps to make the experience so much more enjoyable.
- CHOCOLATE (a little bribe never hurt anyone!)
For my book club meetings, I usually bring along some sort of chocolate. It’s a treat at the end of a week and helps to make things feel more relaxed, like a conversation among friends rather than strangers. Who can say no to chocolate??
While I am most definitely not any kind of all-knowing, book club guru, I thought these tips come in handy for someone out there. If you have any other tips to add to this list, pop them below!
What did you think? Is setting up a book club on your to-do list this year? Or maybe you already belong to one? I’d love to know!