The Power of the Book Club

There has been a point in our lives when we have joined or have thought about joining a book club. Maybe it was a friend that convinced you to join hers or someone who you met at that one party who knows your 2nd cousin on your mum’s side as even asked you to join theirs, it doesn’t matter who it was that asked; you know you have been asked at least once by someone. Being a very social world we are eager to share our likes and dislikes with others in hopes of finding a common group with new people, this is the beauty of the book club. It not only allows you to read books you never would pick up in your whole life but it allows you to share your passion with others who have that same passion.

               I am a HUGE fan of the book club; I love the idea of them and what type of service they provide for those who are looking to expanding their social and literary horizons. I have been a member of many different book clubs over the years ranging from all women’s book clubs to those arranged by a close friend; each has their own unique feel to them and I gain must pleasure from both. I have been in book clubs ran to meet other singles, this did not go over so well as that more people were coming to meet others instead of talking about the book. I went for the books, not the men. I also have been on the other side of the fence and I ran my own book club for many years. It was a great learning experience for me and allowed me to meet people and read books that made me think outside of the normal reading box. Of course running a book club is not as glamorous or easy as one may think, there is a great deal of prep and thought that goes into a successful book club. Here are a few guidelines that can help:

1)      Have a diverse background when it comes to books or be very informed on your genre of novels. If you have only read 5 books in your whole life, then maybe running your own book club may not be the right path for you.  The more books you have read the easier it will be to figure out which books should be introduced to the group. Or if you are going to focus on one genre or author make sure you know them better than anyone. People come to book clubs to learn something new, and you must be prepared to teach them. I have always wanted to have a small book club of just going over Jane Austen novels. I love her books and I am always curious how her work has touched others and how they react to her. If anyone is interested please let me know!

2)      Be open-minded. Do not have a set schedule… well do have a schedule and an idea of what books you want to read or are curious about but allow the club to go where it needs to go. For example, you have decided to throw in a science fiction novel into your book club to test the waters and it goes down very well. This can give you the confidence to introduce more science fiction to the group in the next few books, or maybe read another book by that author. Judge the books based off the reaction to your club; some books that you love they may not and some books you hate they may love so go with the flow.

3)      Get a group together. This can be with a few close friends or family members or if you want to be a bit bolder, put an ad out on the internet or newspaper. If you really want to start a book club you need people to be in it. There isn’t a certain amount of people you should have to make it a proper club but I would say a minimum of 4 so that there is mix of opinions and preferences but 2 always works out well too.  There are just a few other things to remember when putting together a book club. You need to have somewhere to meet and you need to determine when you are going to. Is this a bi-monthly, monthly, bi weekly book club? Will you meet at your house, a friend’s place, the local coffee shop?  How many books are you thinking of reading? Things to consider.

4)      If you are not confident enough to run the club by yourself then get someone else to co-manage it with you. This is a brilliant idea because you have two different readers, with two different reading preferences coming together to create something great. Find someone you know and trust to go in this adventure with you.

5)      Have fun! This is supposed to be about sharing your passion with others who have the same passion. Do not stress out about it. If you come to a time when you cannot think of a book to read for the club, you can always ask for suggestions from your fellow members on a book they love and would like to share with everyone. You also do not have to run the book club forever, just run it as long as you want or can and then move on or pass it on to someone else. This is a fun hobby, not some horrible job you are stuck doing and are not enjoying. Make sure you are having as much fun as your fellow members.

So there are some tips for starting up a club of your own. Also since most people now have picked up the book club fever there has been a great demand for book clubs. With this fever coming into full swing, the UK has established and ran their National Book Club. It comes out every year around this time and is put together by Richard and Judy. The club started in 2007 and has been going strong ever since. Due to the popularity of the book club, there is now another book club called The TV Book Club which shows on Channel 4 in January and during the summer time. Both have brought together a nation of readers that allows anyone to join in on the discussions about the books they have chosen.

I quite like the idea of having a national book club so that everyone is reading the same book which allows a great topic for conversation with new people but there is a down side to this. Everyone is reading the same book; apparently we have all become reading droids and have decided that we should read this book and only this book. I also do not like the impersonal approach to these book clubs, the TV book club is a best choice since you can watch the discussion on the telly but you cannot actually talk to them at the time in which it is going on. You can join in online, which is a bonus, but the point of a book club is to interact with those other book lovers and get their views on the book you decided to read. The R&J book club is just a list of books given out for people to buy and that is that; you can go on their website and read reviews and what other people have thought about the book but the lack of personal contact is just astounding. I see the idea behind the national book club and getting everyone excited about reading but there isn’t an actual club going on.

Naturally since the book clubs have started last week and are in full swing I, like most people in the UK, will read the books to see if this year there are some good picks. The last time both of them started, the books were a bit of a disappointment. The stories seemed to be of repeats of stories I have already read just written from someone else. It wasn’t new or exciting but dull and the only benefit to that was I looked for books elsewhere. This is the time when I came into the land of Science Fiction and it has been lovely ever since. This year has shown some promise for both clubs and I am more than happy to write my reviews on the books I have picked up and caught my eye. If you would like me to review a specific book from either of the book clubs, do feel free to send me a comment and I would be more than happy to give my two cents.

Richard and Judy Book Club Site

TV Book Club Site

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