How to Start a Book Club With BAM! – Part 2
Your First Meeting
Now comes the good part: meeting with your book club! Invite members to the first meeting at least two weeks before the date you’ve selected. Whether you contact them by phone, e-mail or the web, let them know when and where the first meeting will be held. Recommend that everyone has read at least one chapter of the selected book and has at least one question they’d like the club to discuss.
Before everyone arrives, take a look at these ideas to help make sure everything runs smoothly. You and the other members will be deciding on a few important issues:
- Who will lead the book club meetings?
- Will it be the same person every time?
- Is there a price limit to the books you’ll be reading? Paperbacks only, for instance?
- Books-A-Million’s Book Club selections are primarily paperback editions and are available online or in stores. And, depending on the number of members in your club, BAM may provide a discount on orders of 5 books or more.
- Where will subsequent meetings be held? In the same location, at the home of that meeting’s leader, or in a community room somewhere else, like a library or bookstore?
- Books-A-Million bookstores with café’s make a comfortable place to gather.
- What happens if someone does not read the book? It is strongly recommend inviting people to come even if they haven’t read the book. You’ll probably find that those who didn’t finish the book still have something valuable to contribute to the discussion, and they probably want to come and hear what others thought about it. So if you can, clearly communicate that everyone’s invited whether they read 0% or 100% of the book
- Will refreshments be served? Who will provide them? Will they be connected to the theme of the book being discussed?
How to Host Your Meetings
When prospective members contact you for more information, explain the purpose of the book club and the number of members you’re looking for. Interview them briefly about the types of books they like to read, and why they’re interested in joining a book club. Let them know when and where the first meeting will be held, and tell them what the book selection is and where to get a copy.
Make Your Book Club Unique
In addition to the discussion of books, we encourage you to look for ways to make your book club uniquely yours. Some ideas include:
- The Quote Book: As previously mentioned, start a journal to record literary quotes about the book of the evening, as well as ridiculous and hilarious things that your members say each week. You can then reference this book every now and then and usually have zero context for or memory of said quotes, which makes them all the more interesting.
- The “Last One Finished” Award: We also take a poll at the beginning of each book club to see who was the last person to finish the book. Without fail, someone tends to finish the book within a few hours of book club beginning, and one who narrowly finishes the book before the meeting.
- So. Much. Food. Our bookies are also quite good cooks. So each of our meetings usually include a pretty tasty spread of things to enjoy while we hang out at the beginning of book club. I say usually because occasionally there is zero food, which makes us bookies very sad. So then the following month, there is too much food. And the pendulum swings…because we do not like to plan the food.
- And beer. Or whatever signature cocktail of the evening might be served, like delicious juleps for Gatsby night. Just enough to make the night a little more lively. And the quote book a little more entertaining.
- Annual Nights Out: Once a year organize an annual book club overnight event. This takes place on your book club night of the month and may be held either at a lake or in the backyard of one of our members. And, welcome those who can only come for part of the evening. It may become one of your favorite nights of the year, and accomplishes all of that good relationship-building stuff that staying up late and seeing each other first thing in the morning tends to do.
- Movie Nights:If a book has a corresponding movie, plan an in-home movie night or make a trip to the theater to see the film together.
- Social Media: Create a blog to post updates when we feel like it with random tidbits about the books you’ve read. Start a private Facebook page where you can communicate with other better between book clubs instead of endless email streams. Both are fun places to share things that we might not get to during meetings.
More than anything, just have a great time together. And like good wine and good books, it seems like book club gets even better with age.
So, if you’re interested in starting a book club, hopefully at least a few of these tips might help.
>> Watch for Part 3, How to Read, Think, and Talk About Books<<