It’s hard to find something more satisfying than reading a good book. The way your imagination comes to life at the turn of each page, the places you go, the people you meet, and the emotions you feel are like secret memories kept close with a friend. But if these wonderful gifts are to live and die with you alone, then what’s the point? Imagine having a place to share all these things with people who appreciate reading the same way you do.
A book club is a place where you can do just that.
Now, it’s no secret that book-clubs are notorious for fading away just as quickly as they begin. The real secret however, is to create fantastic bookclubs that people just can’t get enough of.
So if you’re looking to establish a group that will maintain long after the honeymoon, it’s important to make sure you have a plan before diving head-first into the unknown.
Identifying a stable location is the first step to a strong foundation for your club. Alternating the monthly locations can often be a recipe for disaster, so be sure to pick a comfortable venue that is capable of long term scheduling for your group. Your library is typically the perfect place. The bonus here is having a building filled with books that is frequented by other book-minded people. This way, you won’t have to look too far for either.
Whether you’re a single genre club or more of an amazon bestseller clique, creating a specific identity is a great way ensure the expectations of your members. There’s nothing more frustrating for a true-crime connoisseur to be tasked with the latest post-apocalyptic young-adult book series. And while there’s no question that reading outside your comfort zone can sometimes be a breath of fresh air, it’s better to allow your members to decide if this is the book-club for them.
As the organiser of your book-club, you should always have a short list of around 5 different books to recommend. By doing so, your club will never be caught off guard without direction. It’s also a good idea to allow for an open vote and discussion so that people have the freedom to decide and agree on the content for each month. At the end of each meeting, make sure that there is a consensus and acceptable deadline that everyone is comfortable with.
Making a concerted effort to structure the meetings for your book-club will go a long way to keep people coming back. Spending a bit of time constructing enough questions and ideas for the discussion is an easy way to prevent your meetings from spinning out of control. Rather than people splitting off into small groups of discussion, all the members will have an equal chance to answer the same question and be heard. This is also a great way of getting to know people. Preferable to meaningless chit chat, there’s an ability to relate with those around you on a deeper level, as they provide their own unique answers for each question.
Do a quick google search – there are a heap of book club discussion questions that have already been created if you need some help. These can be book-specific or more general in nature – applicable to any book. You can even find prompts, games, hand-outs and other cool ideas that are bound to make your book club a success!
This social element is a crucial component for any book club, so be sure not to overlook its importance, especially for maintaining people’s interest to come back. Many people who enjoy reading are also keen to meet new people and make lasting friends. Providing a cozy environment with comfortable seating and the possibility of refreshments and snacks is a great way to provide ice-breakers during any of the breaks.
Also make sure you’re spending some time posting photos and comments on social media. This will help with your marketing efforts, to raise awareness of the book club to new customers, and to show the community outside those attending the book club what they might be missing out on!
Remember why you’re doing it!
Finally, remember why you’re here. There are a number of really valid and important reasons that you’re deciding to run an awesome book club. It is not just to connect and entertain a group of like-minded people (which in itself is awesome!), but to do some of the following:
- Improve literacy rates
- To expose customers to books that they mightn’t normally read or consider
- To help consider important societal issues
- To be exposed to new ideas and concepts
- To be exposed to others’ perspectives
- To develop critical analysis skills, and also
- To engage customers in a space such as your library and to encourage them to return.
At the end of each session, dedicate some time to promoting your library - hand out a flyer for an event or an alternate program or activity that may be of interest, encourage them to invite a friend, post on social media, and engage in active conversation about your library beyond the book club itself.
If you do all this, not only will you have created an awesome book club that keeps people wanting more, but you’ll have grown your library’s presence in your community, encouraged new and returning users, and overall you’ll have increased your library’s brand in your community!