Thursday, March 21, 2013

How to Have a Winning Book Club

You too can have a book club this fun!
I have very little social life. With work and blogging and going to the gym and getting the kids to scouts  (Blerg!) and dance class and gymnastics it just seems like hanging out with friends is so low on the list that "buying light bulbs at Target" often seems to take precedence. I typically only see my friends once a month at our Book Club. And every month I thank my lucky stars for it. You see, when you vaguely have some ideas about "we should all get together soon" with your friends, it will never happen. (Those light bulbs won't buy themselves!) But if you have something on your calendar, something that involves great food, great conversation and an excuse to buy a new book, it gets you out of the house.

In my life, I have been involved in starting many book clubs and they always fail. People get busy, the books are lame, no one reads anything. When Amy and I moved to Oregon our friend Chanel started a book club. We met every month with that book club the whole time we lived there. And when we moved back to Utah we created a similar book club and have met every month since. That's 5 straight years of book clubbing, y'all! And I think having some rules and structure makes it easier to be successful.

My friend Kacy (who is in my book club) has already blogged about some of her rules, and I think she hit some key ones (Mainly: have good food. It's the best part of book club.) Here are a few that I think are key:

  • Have a different person choose the book each month. You can draw names or have a rotation. The person who choose the book is in charge of hosting book club and leading the discussion.
  • You can only choose books that no one has read. (We will make an exception if only 1 or 2 people have read the book.) This way you avoid the problem of someone choosing "their favorite book" and then having everyone else hate it. If someone chooses a terrible book (and it is usually me) no one's feelings are hurt. I have friends in other book clubs who have been called names because they didn't like someones favorite book enough.
  • Books can be no longer than 300-350 pages. We are all busy people. If someone chooses a 600 page book it feels a little overwhelming. You don't want book club to be a chore! But if the book is 275 pages, even if you don't start it until late in the month you feel like you can get through it. 
  • Choose the date for the next book club before you go home for the night. Anytime we forget to set the date and try to do it later it starts a string of emails where people suggest dates and then other people reply that that date doesn't work for them and what about a different date? And then some people don't reply either way. And then some people don't really read the emails and think we're talking about a different date. It's always easier if the date is set in stone before everyone goes home.
  • Make enough food that people can go home with leftovers. It's fun to be sitting in church the next day and get texts saying thing like "These runzas are even better the next day!" or "Just getting ready for my Sunday nap but first I am eating some leftover smoked chicken!" It's like a part of book club continues until the next afternoon. 
So there you have it. All you have to do is have some rules, read some books and make some amazing food and you too can have a book club. Trust me, when you are sitting through that terrifying Cub Scout court of honor where someone is wearing a slightly racist Native American costume as he hands out Arrows of Light, you'll be glad that you have something on the calendar to look forward to. 
Some of our book club selections that Patrick arranged artfully on his end table. Patrick does everything artfully. 

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