I have been in oh so many many book clubs through the years. Some online, some in person, some themed and some even accidental. All of them required some sort of preparation and participation. The question always arises, “What do I bring to a book club?”
And we’re not just talking about physical items. We’re talking about actually being a part of your book club. It isn’t a happy hour or a networking event. Book club is a gathering of people who have read the same book and wish to discuss it.
As a “professional” book club-er, let me give you some ideas for Book Club 101.
Or at least make sure you have read the book. But ideally bring the book to your book club…you know, if you can. You may be thinking, “Oh I can remember enough to talk about it.” Then someone will bring up a point that you also remembered that you had your own viewpoint on. And oh don’t you wish you could quickly flip to the bookmark or post-it note or Kindle highlights to remind yourself what that is? See how useful that book is now? (Plus it makes you feel good at least looking super prepared – this is for those of you who did not read the book, but want to play along anyway.)
Yes, it sounds super nerdy. But hey, did you know that The Luminaries not only has really confusing looking astrological charts in it, but the book length is also modeled on the waning moon cycle? I wouldn’t have had any idea about that without prepping myself a little bit.
Because in all honesty, book clubs usually only spend at most 20 or maybe 30 minutes talking about the actual book. Then there’s some awkward silence while you decide whether to a.) be the super dork in the group and bring up the quotes you underlined or discuss how you felt the tertiary character brought the most depth out of the protagonist, or b.) start chatting about work, life, love and everything else you’re distracting yourself from while being at book club. If you choose “a”, then you may want to bring a note card, or two. But no more than two. You don’t want to go too crazy.
Stop thinking about work! You can do your dishes when you get home. See – you’re doing it again. Focus now. Be in the book club. Be one with the book club. Put your phone down unless you’re going to Google fun facts about Haruki Murakami. (Did you know that he owns 6,000 music records and he’s a fellow cat
This one may seem like it’s common sense (please see above to point number one), but I can’t tell you how many times I hosted book club where only one or two people brought booze of any kind. Any other party, wouldn’t you bring a hostess gift usually in the form of wine? How is a book club different? Yes, if you don’t feel comfortable with wine, an appetizer/snack is totally acceptable. But please bring something besides your lovely self.
What a great book club! You discussed the book in detail, got caught up on some friendly gossip and now it’s time to discuss what you’re reading next. I was in one book club, where a year’s worth of books were decided up front. Most book clubs are not that organized. Have one to two books and their descriptions ready to discuss when talking about the next book club. Only one or two, I implore you. If everyone brought 5 requests you would never come to a decision.
The other point that I’ll make is that every book club usually has one person who makes almost all the decisions on the book. We’re humans, it happens. When you really want to have your book be the one that’s selected, come up with a reason why almost all of the book club members will really like it. For instance, “Sarah, when I read the description, I thought of when we read your suggestion of Great Expectations last month. I thought this would be a fun off-shoot of that.” This simple action will win you votes from other book club members without even asking for them to back you up on your book.
See, clubs can be sneaky. Even book clubs. Let’s not forget The Jane Austen Book Club.
This should give you enough ammunition for being a rockin’ book club member. Book clubs are really fun! But they’re even more fun (for everyone involved) if the participants put in just a little bit more effort than just reading the book. And if you bring more than one bottle of wine, you are an official book club rock star. Cheers!