I’ve never been part of a book club like that. I’ve never met anyone in a book club like that. Like unicorns and spacious NYC apartments (as seen on TV), they are the stuff of myths and legends. Most of the book clubs I’ve been a member of go strong for six months to a year before they start to fade. People stop reading the books. Schedules don’t coordinate. Personalities clash. The reality is that even the best book club needs a reboot now and then. Here are some ideas on how to reset yours.
Lower your expectations
You’re here to talk about books and share your love of reading, not find your soulmate or recreate the Algonquin Round Table. Don’t set the bar too high. If no one is finishing the book, choose a novella or short story for the next meeting. If you can’t keep the group on track for the full hour, spend 30 minutes discussing and 30 minutes socializing. Then try to increase the discussion time by 10 minutes at the next meeting.
Make it an event
I love sending out email invitations. Websites like Paperless Post have a huge selection (including some for free). They also let you send reminders and track who is attending. A little bit of formality helps get everyone’s head in the game.
Piggyback on a celebrity book club
Sometimes the most difficult part is choosing the book. No one wants to be responsible for a dud, so until everyone gets comfortable with each other let Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, or Emma Watson take the decision out of your hands.
Skip the Potluck
Alternating members homes and having everyone bring a dish doesn’t always work. How many times can you exclaim over Joanne’s artichoke dip or Linda’s chicken salad? If someone volunteers to host the meeting they should be responsible for the food. Members can bring bottles of wine, flowers, chocolates, even cookies—but leave the Tupperware at home. Even better…
Call ahead and reserve a table at your favorite coffee shop, bar or restaurant. Another option is to skip the food and beverages altogether. Bookshops and libraries are great places to meet.
Bring a Friend
While this can be a great way to recruit new members, my favorite plus ones are out-of-town guests whose visits just happen to coincide with our meetups. New people inject new life into the conversation.
Think Outside of the Box
Don’t take the title “Book Club” too literally. Take a break from the assigned reading and host a Book Swap. Choose a magazine article to discuss. Have half the group read the book and the other half watch the movie, then compare. Read a book of poetry. Read a romance novel. There are no rules—the trick is to figure out what works best for your group.