How to Start a Book Club
When you decide to move to a new country, the first thing you probably want to do is make connections with people in the community. This may seem difficult at first, but with time, you will find others in the same situation as you. Furthermore, through these connections, you will discover others with similar interests.
In Antalya, I found friends of different nationalities who enjoyed reading as much as I do, and we would often discuss books that had been read and make recommendations for books to read. So I went out on a limb and decided to put together a ‘Book Club’ to meet up over wine & food to talk about books and build on relationships that we started in our expat social gatherings.
I love my group of ladies that have joined the “Antalya Book Club.” Because we are all foreigners from around the world, we decided to select books that would take place in different parts of the world so that those that may be from that region can share their views of the culture and ways of life.
In creating a successful book club, it is important to consider the following:
Do you want to focus on a theme?
Is there a social issue you want to read more about in books?
Do you have a specific genre such as Fiction, Romance, Classics, or Sci-Fi?
As I mentioned earlier, we are female expats, so we decided that we would select books that would enable us to take a deep dive into women’s issues around the globe.
Because I am the one who decided to create the group, I host the meetings at my home. But, again, this is something the group can decide if they want to rotate hosting the meetings, gather in a public space, or online.
Discuss how often your group would like to meet. The most common schedule is once a month, but you may give them at least six weeks if you plan to read longer books. Find out whatever feels is the most comfortable time to be able to complete a book and set your schedule accordingly. Finally, discuss what time of the day they wish to meet. Time will also vary depending on the group members and the location.
I enjoy having it at my home. Everyone can take their shoes off, cuddle up on the couch, speak freely, and enjoy the evening together.
The ideal Book Club membership should be around 8 – 16 people. I started with only five people, and the group is beginning to grow. Keeping the group small makes it more manageable, but as the group gets larger, it can become challenging to find locations to meet to accommodate the group.
Not everyone will always be able to attend, and therefore it is okay to have a few people that are not regulars be members of the group. Most of the members need to be consistent in attendance because that adds value to the discussions.
Once you have designated a book, set the date, time, and location, then start sending out a few reminders throughout the next several weeks. These reminders can be ‘hi, checking in on everyone to see how you are coming along on reading the book?’ or ‘Reminder- don’t forget our Book Club meeting on….’ or ‘Share a few new words from the book’ or ‘a quote you found meaningful.’
These reminders help members stay engaged in keeping up with the book reading as well as create some great conversations.
If you are hosting the Book Club in your home, it is nice to provide a few simple appetizers for your members to enjoy. Keep things simple and try to host the meeting time either early in the day or after dinner.
Another option is to serve dishes based on the book’s theme. This can create conversation in the group!
If you don’t have the time to prepare appetizers, then have a potluck. Everyone brings something to your home to share with the members. Or you can order food from a local restaurant and have it delivered.
Whatever you decide to do, keep it simple. The important part of Book Club is discussing the book and socializing.
It might be fun to start with an icebreaker game for the first meeting. This might be just going around the room and answering the questions such as a favorite book, who is your favorite literary character, a book that kept you up all night reading, etc.
It is important to have questions ready to be discussed by the group. If you are the group leader, you can read out questions and have members chime in, or you can put questions on an index card, and as members arrive, they can draw a card and speak about the question from their perspective. Here is a list of questions to consider:
- What did you like best about this book?
- What did you like least about this book?
- What other books did this remind you of?
- Which characters in the book did you like best?
- Which characters did you like least?
- Is there a part of the novel you didn’t understand? For example, are you confused by a charter’s actions or the outcome of an event?
- Who would you cast if you were making a movie of this book?
- Share a favorite quote from the book. Why did this quote stand out?
- What other books by this author have you read? How did they compare to this book?
- Would you read another book by this author? Why or why not?
- What feelings did this book evoke for you?
- What did you think of the book’s length? If it’s too long, what would you cut? If too short, what would you add?
- What songs does this book make you think of? Create a book group playlist together!
- If you got the chance to ask the author of this book one question, what would it be?
- What message do you believe the author was trying to convey to the reader?
- Which character in the book would you most like to meet?
- Which places in the book would you most like to visit?
- Do you think the setting, time, and location, played a significant role in this novel? Could it have happened anywhere, at any time? If so, how would the novel have changed?
- What do you think of the book’s title? How does it relate to the book’s contents? What other title might you choose?
- How did this book touch your life? Can you relate to it on any level?
- What do you think the author’s purpose was in writing this book? What ideas were they trying to get across?
- How original and unique was this book?
- If you could hear this same story from another person’s point of view, who would you choose?
- What artist would you choose to illustrate this book? What kinds of illustrations would you include?
- Did this book seem realistic?
- Did the characters seem believable to you? Did they remind you of anyone?
- Did the book’s pace seem too fast/ slow/just right?
- If you were to write fanfic about this book, what kind of story would you want to tell?
While discussing the book, you may find that it is also a good time for members to reflect on their personal lives in relation to the book’s events. This will surely spark a great conversation! Another way to get people to share more is to ask them questions: How did the book touch you? Which character did you most relate to and why?
ACTIVITIES TO CONSIDER
- Plan an Author Visit – This can add light to the book’s topic by having the author present at the meeting. Many authors love getting to meet their fans. Check author websites for information or extend an invite to a book written by a local author.
- Organize a Book Swap – Have everyone bring a book (or books) that they have read to trade. This will give everyone a few extra books to read between meetings or on an upcoming vacation.
- Themed Meetings – Wherever the book takes place, you will have food, games, music, or decorations at your meeting based on that theme. For example, if the book takes place in Korea, consider having a few Korean appetizers or dishes on the table or putting on some Korean music.
- Invite Special Guest – If you’re reading a book that mentions an artist, invite one to the meeting. Maybe there’s a local painter, a chef, television reporter as the main character. Ask someone who represents that main character to your meeting and share why you invite them. This may give the readers an insight into the behaviors of the character.
- Movie Night – Sometimes, books have been made into movies. If you select a book that has been made into a film, consider a movie night as an activity for members. But, of course, read the book first!
- A Seasonal Bash – Everyone likes to celebrate, and so should your book club. Have a “Books-giving” around Thanksgiving. The host makes a turkey, and everyone else brings a dish to share. Host a ‘Secret Santa Party’ for the Christmas holidays.
WRITE A BOOK REVIEW
As a reader of many books, it is so important that we all write book reviews. This helps other readers decide if the book is something they would enjoy, but it also helps the author learn what readers think of their book. Authors need these reviews to help improve their sales and get publishing companies to market their books. I encourage everyone to write reviews on whatever platform you purchased the book or directly at the author’s website.
Reading books not only allows you to escape to places you have never been but also can bring you together with good friends.
Enjoy your travels! Please read my blogs about other exciting places around the world at Traveling Lens Photography.