Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Making a Book Club Work

One of the joys of reading, as far as I'm concerned, is talking about books, and I know I'm not alone. Making a book club work, though, takes a lot of hard work. My own group has continually transformed itself over the last several years. In fact, only three of us remain from the original group. I am always curious to know how others' groups operate and how they survive and even thrive.

In December, the Charlotte Observer reprinted an article by Robyn Blumner from the Chicago Tribune. (I mention this latter detail because more and more of the book news in that paper--all the news, in fact-- comes from somewhere else. I have a nightmare that eventually, all the news in America will be in one small paper.) This piece, entitled "The Best New Year's Resolution," not only suggested forming a book club, but offered some suggestions for success. Some of her tips included having a set date each month, rather than trying to fit everyone's schedule. It won't happen. Our group had actually decided to make that move on our own back in December. She also suggested making each member responsible for choosing one book, instead of trying for a consensus. That gives everyone some say, a stake in the process, and it keeps someone from manipulating the choices.

I would love to know any special tips from other book clubbers and reading groups about how you organize and how you plan for discussions. It should be a no-brainer to talk about the book, but the death knell for many groups is that actual book discussion is superficial at best. (Wine could be a contributing factor.) I'd also like to hear what books have produced the most lively discussions. Is there anything quirky your group does that others might not have thought about? I'll report back after my informal research.

No comments: