Book Group Buzz: Meeting Makeover

Trish Hull from Salt Lake County Library Services tells how.

How To Start A Bookclub

• Who to invite? Friends, families, members of an organization you participate in (ie scouts, pta, exercise group, family, church, neighbors, play group, co-workers, similar hobbies)

• Where to Meet. Homes, libraries, churches, restaurants all make good meeting places. How often? Usually once a month, but maybe every other month will work for very busy people.

• Food! Yes, of course have food. Some clubs have members take turns providing food. Others hold their meetings at a restaurant.

• Assign Leadership Roles. It is important to have someone in charge. You can have a president who rotates yearly or elections, and have a secretary who keeps tracks of books read. If you have been going for awhile you may forget what you have read.

• Communicate. Establish a communications system that works for you and stick to it. Set meeting days and times well in advance.

• Agree on a Reading List. Some groups assign each member to take a turn recommending a book. Others select from a third-party list. However, it seems to work best if all members agree on the final choices.

• Leading the Discussion. If you are a new group you might want to include ice breakers or get to know you activities. Also decide who will lead the discussion and allow time for general conversation.

• Club Personality. Decide if you want to be a casual fun reading group with a variety of interests and areas to read or whether you would rather be more specialized. Some groups focus on just children’s books, or the classics, while others take a more academic approach. Keep in mind every book group has its own personality and there is no set way or right or wrong way to do a book group.

• Getting Enough Copies. It is expensive to ask everyone to buy the book. Salt Lake County Libraries offer a service of bringing in multiple copies of books for groups. Check with your local library to see if they do the same. Many groups share copies among members.

How to Jazz Up Your Book Group

• Change the nature of books you have been reading. Suggest a theme or look for areas you have not read yet. Ask a librarian for book suggestions.

• Pick a field trip for your next activity- Read the paper or visit a bookstore and see if there are any author signings coming up. Maybe an author will be discussing a book at a local library (Salt Lake City downtown library has a lot of these) or bookstore. A museum may have a display of books. Go to a large or new library for a tour. Ask a librarian for a tour and to talk about different genres of books. (you can call me at the Magna library for suggestions)

• Change up and include art or music for a change of pace. The library has books about artists that include pictures of their works, cds for composers, as well as books about their lives. Also you could then go to a fine arts museum (Most colleges have one) or concert.

• Incorporate a craft or activity into your group. If you are reading a book about a woman who makes hats, decorate a hat for fun. Or dress up in the time period you are discussing.

• Start an online bookclub if you are having trouble physically getting together. This is a good way to link with family and friends to discuss books.

• Fix lagging membership by asking everyone to invite a friend. Consider advertising your club at your local library.

• Look online for authors who will “virtually visit” your bookclub or provide times when you can chat with them. This is becoming a pretty popular author opportunity. Publishers websites may tell about these as well.

• If you aren’t having fun, ask the members why. If it is something they don’t want to discuss in public maybe send an email questionnaire to everyone and then think of ways to diplomatically address the issue.

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