What They Are and How to Start and Maintain a Book Club

A a course in miracles more precisely, a book discussion club – is a group of people meeting, in reality or on-line, to discuss a book they all have read. It can also be called a book or literature circle or reading group.

Just do it

It is easy to start one of your own, if you are not happy with the book choices of the book clubs in your area. It’s practically as easy as just deciding you will have one. You do not need to recruit members, buy books for everyone nor register your book club or anything alike. You will just ask your friends or put an announce on a free bulletin board in your area (don’t forget the library bulletin board), or create an online forum/group for your book club, and you are ready to go. Making the book club a good one, that is a totally different issue.

Decisions, decisions

Decide how the books are going to be chosen. Do you choose all the books, are you going to follow an existing list of books or an existing book club, is every member going to choose a book in turns, or are you going to have a common vote on books? Decide if you are going to let the group decide.

Decide the limits of books to be chosen.

It cannot be a rare copy or expensive, so that everyone has the chance to participate. If you decide to let the books go round, and someone wants everyone to read a rare or expensive book he/she owns, and is willing to borrow it to all, then a book like this can be chosen. Otherwise it is best to stay at recent (not very new) books with a pocket print available.Also, you need to set limits to the size of books. A good medium is 350 pages.

If you are going to let everyone choose a book on turn, you need to have a list and keep it well updated, so that everyone gets to choose a book. This is also the only time when the person who selects the book is going to present it too, otherwise you have to do it, unless you manage to enroll someone to volunteer for the job.

You present the book by explaining a little what it is about and why you chose it. It is always fun to know more about the author, what else she/he has written, what books are like this one (in your opinion) and some background information about the places and events taking place in the book. Collect this in a handout. Add pictures and suggested soundtrack or movies, list of main characters, maps and so on. Find the reading guide – or write one yourself – and distribute copies to the whole group.

Choose the first book, and make a list of 12 books all ready to the first meeting, so if you decide you choose all the books, the reading list is already ready. Otherwise, you need to start this list already in the first meeting, so that everyone will get the list to the second meeting. Naturally, it can be hard to choose books without time to think, so ask the choosers call you with their choice, so that you can prepare the list, and also prepare the presentation in advance, if the one choosing for some reason has not done that.

You can also ask people to recommend books out their turn, and write this on a book suggestion list, so that if someone cannot make up their mind of the book, he/she can choose a book from the list. Also, people might be interested in reading books outside the official, agreed book list.

Decide if you are all going to read the same book and then discuss it, or if you are going to have a book list and everyone may read the books on the list on their own time and preferences, or decide if you are going to let the group decide this too.

Decide when you will have the first meeting. Have a preliminary meeting timetable prepared. It is possible that this timetable will change at the first meeting, but you need to have one ready, just in case.

Have meetings as often as you like, but at least once a month. Most people without large problems will be able to read a book in a month, and if you are having a book club, you also need to set deadlines, so that the book club will not fall with your members not keeping up with one another.

Decide where you will have the first meeting and see that the space is available. You can have the meetings in restaurants or in your homes, or try to see if you can find a meeting room. Libraries usually have meeting rooms you can use. The group may want to change this too, to better fit their needs, but you have to make the decision for all the first time. It is a good idea to meet at home, so that a good night doesn’t need to end at closing time.

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