How to Host a Book Club

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How do I begin to describe my love for book club? It’s deep, friends. I would even go so far as to say it is a necessity in my life. Food, shelter, family, medicine, coffee, book club. Yeah, it’s up there.

I love to read and this is my excuse to make the time to do it. We have also built this small, but amazing, tribe of friends. My book club girls are pretty important to me. Since book club began we’ve shared about 36 meals, had 4 babies, celebrated 3 bookclubversaries, talked about everything under the sun from diapers to marrying off sons to “how we met our husband” stories to who saves their kid’s baby teeth. We’ve laughed a ton and shared a lot of our lives with each other. Oh and we’ve read books, too. (And have had some pretty deep conversations about them.)

Doesn’t that make you want to start your own book club?? I thought so. So, I’m here to share how my friend Rachel and I started this book club, how we run it and a really great list of books to get you started.

It started with a conversation between my friend Rachel and I. “I’ve always wanted to be in a book club.” “Me, too.” “Let’s start one.” “Ok, let’s do it!” A mass Face Book message went out to friends who we thought might be interested. Rachel picked the book and we had dinner at her house, everyone contributing part of the meal. And Book Club was born. There were 6 of us. We read Cutting for Stone and it was wonderful.

Rachel moved away not long after that first meeting; but we are still going strong. 3 1/2 years later with 12 lovely ladies. I’m so thankful for Rachel’s friendship, her love of books and that we started this adventure together.

I’m going to share how we run our book club and hopefully this will give you some ideas if you are wanting to start your own.

How Often Do We Have Book Club?

We have book club once a month (usually on a Friday night) and take Decembers off.

Where Do We Have Book Club?

We take turns hosting.  We don’t have a rotation or anything and not all of us are able to host. I think we’ve been to each person’s house by now and some of us host more often than others. It’s whoever is available that month.

Do We Have Dinner, Wine or Dessert?

All of the above! I know book clubs are generally known for having wine. Not that we’re opposed to it; but usually it’s dinner and dessert. Sometimes, just dessert. Since I’m the facilitator, I send out an evite about a week before we meet. The hostess and I talk about ideas for dinner and I put a sign up for food on the evite. We love to eat! Some of us are dangerously good bakers and so we get spoiled with some amazing food.

How Do We Pick The Book?

Ours is more of a group effort. If you happen to find a book that sounds good, you share it. We usually have a handful of suggestions and then we try to pick two books at a time. We do this because some girls like to get a head start on the next book for the next month. This works for us.

What do we actually do at book club?

As far as a schedule, it’s pretty simple. Eat. Talk about life. Discuss Book. Talk some more. Laugh. Talk. You get the jist. When we first started, I would print out questions and ask them. It helped me at first; but after awhile it felt more natural to just jump in and start talking about the book. I think as you get going and get to know your members better, that part is the easiest. The conversation just seems to flow naturally. Some books lend themselves to better conversations than others.

Sometimes, the books will have discussion questions in the back, which is nice. This is a site I used at the beginning to help me get started litlovers.com

Here are some other ideas from other book clubs:

*I have friends whose book clubs meet every 6 weeks instead of 4.

*One friend’s club has each member take a turn picking the book and it has to be a book that person has already read. We don’t like to do this so it’s new for everyone; but there were a few sketchy books picks I wish we had know about ahead of time. Oh, well. It led to some lively conversations!!!

Do We Ever Read A Dud?    

There are a couple of times where we’ve read a book that none of us really like. Maybe the plot was weak or the characters were not relateable. We can usually learn from even the “misses” we read. Sometimes we may not love the story; but the writing is excellent. I promised the girls I would mention our least favorite book, Serena. Talk about an unlikable character!!! Half the time I wanted to punch her in the face. I’m not kidding. There was not much redeeming in any of the characters. The book was well written, though. We all still laugh about how much we did not like the book.

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Master List:

I had to pool the girls for this list because I had forgotten many of these. Everyone has different tastes in literature so what I personally love, you may not enjoy but……… I did put our favorites at the top of the list asking the girls which were their favorites. Though they are in no particular order, the first 10 were our collaborative favorites. (For instance, #31 was not my least favorite. I really enjoyed the Winter Garden; it just happened to be at the end of the list.)

If you are thinking of starting a book club, do it! I hope the tips above and list below will help get you started.

  • And to Kim, Kelly, Dori, Alex, Lori, Louise, Renee, Sarah, Sara, Jennie, Angie and Angela, thanks for making book club such a special thing, for all the great food, conversation and inside jokes we share.
  • Rachel, thank you for your friendship and staring this whole thing with me 3 1/2 years ago.
  1. The Book Thief
  2. Cutting for Stone
  3. Wonder
  4. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
  5. The Scarlet Pimpernell
  6. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Our whole bookclub wanted to move together to live on the island in this book! We really liked this book!!)
  7. The Secret Life of Bees
  8. Unbroken
  9. 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess
  10. Anne of Green Gables, My Daughter, and Me
  11. The Time Traveler’s Wife
  12. The Dressmaker
  13. Still Alice
  14. Serena
  15. The Memory Keeper’s Daughter
  16. Sister Chicks
  17. Snow Falling on Cedars
  18. The Residence
  19. Station Eleven
  20. A Severe Mercy
  21. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
  22. The Zoo Keeper’s Wife: A War Story
  23. The Known World
  24. The Kitchen House
  25. Bridge to Haven
  26. The Mourning Hours
  27. My Sister’s Keeeper
  28. Gulp
  29.  The Art of Hearing Heartbeats
  30. Shanghai Girls
  31. Winter Garden
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