Stick around here long and you will hear about my book club the Bookies. If you have been visiting me for any amount of time already, feel free to insert your eye roll here. 😛
This time you can blame Shirley at My Bookshelf who asked me, “Would you do a post about keeping book clubs energized and enthusiastic with some tips, please?“
You don’t have to twist my arm to get me to talk about book club! Any time you can bring books and people together… I am in. 😀
To start with let me give you my credentials. I am pretty much just like you. I am a book lover who loves to read and loves to talk books. The Bookies started in fall of 2001, of course at the time… I did not know when I placed a note by the time clock at Wal-Mart that I was starting a book club and anyone could join, that it would turn into The Bookies.
That first book I posted as a “read this and meet me here on blah blah day at blah blah time” was Dance Upon The Air by Nora Roberts.
I posted the note three weeks in advance and then I waited. No one approached me. No one asked me about the book group I was going to start. The evening of the event, I told my husband I was going to see if anyone showed up but had an idea I would just be sitting alone in a pizza shop having a diet Pepsi with my book. I would be home probably in thirty minutes chalking this one up as a fail.
I was not alone.
That evening Angie (my friend who runs the blog By Book Or By Crook) and Sandy joined me to discuss out book. That day was August 14th, 2001. We had a blast, we picked a second book, Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard was that book.
That second meeting was scheduled at the same place, same time, for September 11th, 2001. Yes. 9-1-1. That fateful day in history and I went to the meeting just in case someone showed up and as it turned out, all three of us came. We shared in our sorrow over the days horrifying events and we reviewed our book.
Through the early years we grew to 8 members and remained that way until about year 5. Around then we had a growth spurt that took us to 14 members and by year 8 we had 18 members. During those growth spurts was when I started worrying about how to manage such a large group keeping us all on the book topic and keeping it interesting… that’s when we got creative.
Being such a large group it was hard to find restaurants to accommodate us and if we did find one, I worried that our laughter or our discussion might be disturbing the other patrons of the restaurant. When we took turns opening out homes we decided to potluck food around the theme of the book. Not only did this stretch our creative thinking, it bonded us through the food to the books.
Another element we added was visual props surrounding the book discussion. A few of the ladies in the group would bring pictures or their laptops to show articles that had to do with the books topics. For instance in a book we read once dealt with a lot of Victorian themed items. Pictures were brought of what these items were and what they looked like. More recently we had a power point of shoes, Italian foods and scenes of Italy played during our book review (Thank you Adraina Triginiani!)
In 2006 we added the July Queen Event where we do not choose a book to read for the month of July however we meet and grill on the lake either at a members home or at a park and we all dress in formal wear and try for Queen of the Bookies. (The Queen breaks all book choice ties and chooses a place to meet if we are undecided during her rein). This idea came from a book club read called Same Sweet Girls by Cassandra King.
Yearly in December we have a Christmas party, do a gift exchange and read a Christmas related book. If a book we read turns into a movie we try to attend as a group. We even have a Bookies Bucket List – things we would like to do as a book club.
We made a Facebook page to communicate the book, the food, where we are meeting, etc…
We have few rules. We realize that life is busy and I would much rather have someone come and hang out with us even if they did not have time to read the book. As of July 2013 we added the rule that you needed to attend at least 6 meetings a year to hold your Bookie spot as currently we have a wait list of people wanting to get into our group. We also implemented that we will not (in the future) go over the count of 16 Bookies. It just gets too hard to find places big enough for us to meet, especially during the winter when we have to be inside.
Keep it fun, keep it interesting. We grew together. Start out with books, with food, with great conversation. See which way your group grows. Every book group is different but they can all be unique and fun.
Currently Bookies is at 18 members. We dont always all make every meeting, but we are really good at communicating our thoughts on the book and rating through emails, texting, and facebook. I think the fact that we connect so well helps keep us a strong group. We care about one another. We celebrate birthdays and babies. We hang together when someone if going through something rough.
Through our 11 years of existence we have had our growing pains and made it through. It is not always easy to organize – but it is always fun 😀 A group of motley crew people brought together…
by a book. 😀
I would love to hear about your book groups! Or if you have questions I did not answer, leave them in the comments and I will respond.