Thursday, 19 December 2013

starting a book group, in 10 easy steps

A book group is a good excuse for a regular meetup with friends.  It can be all about the book if you like, but it can also be an opportunity for wine and nibbles, and a bit of a giggle.  Oh, and the book too.

Some of the lovely ladies from my previous book
group in rainy town.  With wine :-)
Poor loves, I made them read Game of Thrones!
Of course, book groups are not for everybody.  If you're looking for a regular meetup with friends, to share an interest, you could set up a crafting group (although wine and nibbles don't work so well at that).  I've also got friends who go to the cinema on a regular basis.

Personally, I like a read, and I love to go to the cinema, so my idea would be a book/film club - maybe a book a month and a film night from time to time too.

So how to start a book group?

  1. First of all ask your friends if there is already a book group that anyone's in.  Or head down to your local library and see if there is a book group already running which you could join.  Most libraries have them.  If there's one you can get to then check it out.  You'll meet new people and immediately have something to talk about.
  2. If your library book group isn't for you, then ask around to see who else might be interested in a new one.  I found it easiest to ask people in seaside town with a group message on Facebook.  Everyone could quickly see who else might be involved, and it provided a pretty collaborative forum.  Also, anyone who wasn't interested could simply leave the conversation.
  3.  When you know you've got some people interested (I would recommend a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 13, considering that some people are likely to not make each meeting, but go with what feels right to you) you're ready to start thinking about books.  You can choose your own books and buy them or get them out of the library as you wish, but it's always a good idea to check out what the library has for book groups.  Either have a look on the library's website, or have a chat with a senior librarian to see if there is a list of books for bookgroups.  These are generally books which there are at least 12 copies of.  They tend to be more easy-reading books, and very little fantasy, so it's best to use the list as a starting off point.
  4. You can have a book group where one person chooses the books (a few library based ones do this - or there may be a theme you're wanting to cover), but what I did was get a copy of the list and circulate it to book group members, asking them to each choose a couple of books they'd like.  This means everyone gets something they like eventually.  
  5. You then need to decide how often you'll meet, and when!  Again, Facebook Messenger is good for this.  I would suggest monthly, and of an evening, but do what's right for you.
  6. Now you need to pop to the library with your membership numbers (they might want names too), the meeting dates, and a list of books you'd like.  Remember to mix up the suggestions from members so you don't get two books in a row from one person.  The librarians will try to get your first book, but if it's already out they'll go down the list to get one.  We got our first choice first time, but it's a matter of luck.
  7. Let your members know when they can either pick the books up from the library, or get them from you, depending on the library's system.
  8. Read the book.
  9. Have a look on the internet to see what other people have said about the book, and indeed, what might be a good idea to talk about at book group (although it should be more a social occasion than a seminar).
  10. Keep going.
And that's it!  Easy, and hopefully fun.

Our first book is The Marriage Bureau for Rich People by Farahad Zama.  It looks good, and it's much shorter than my usual book so I've no excuse to not read it in time for the January meeting!

Are you in a book group?  What's been your favourite book to read, and why?

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