Why I Started a Book Club and What I’ve Learned Along the Way

Living room with green couch, coffee table and plant.

For years, I’d wanted to join a book club.

They’re the perfect dichotomy. On one hand, they create safe outlets for robust intellectual discourse and on the other, they’re the perfect excuse to get together with your girlfriends on a school night and drink some wine.

I’d never joined a book club before because they were just too hard to find. Either a club had been around forever and wasn’t accepting new members or I’d try ones I’d found on Meetup, but those left me disappointed by the book selection and impersonal coffee shop venues.

In my head, I pictured friends, not strangers and living rooms, not cafes.

So for years, I kept putting out feelers, with nothing ever seeming to come from them.

But since moving to Christchurch, I’ve been really lucky to have met an amazing group of women. Some I’ve met some through work, some through friends of friends, and others through extracurricular activities like yoga.

Seeing that I had built this amazing network of friends, who also happened to be book nerds like me, it occurred to me that I should just start my own book club.

So I did!

Here are some of the things I’ve learned since we started our book club…

Set the Ground Rules

How often are you going to meet? How do you select books and who will lead the discussion? These are all questions we knew we needed to answer at the first meeting. Our book club meets monthly and we rotate hosting duties so that each member is responsible for managing the logistics twice a year. Whoever hosts gets to pick the book and it’s their job to lead the discussion.

Schedule Meetings Far in Advance

We’re all busy so the sooner we book something in everyone’s calendars the better. After our initial meeting, I sent out Facebook invites for the next year’s worth of get-togethers. If Facebook’s not your jam, you can always send out calendar invites. In my experience, if it’s in the calendar, it’s 100x more likely to happen.

Skip the Potluck

In our book club, the host is in charge of putting out nibbles and wine. This saves us from the headache of trying to manage whose bringing what and for 10 of the year’s 12 meetings, all we have to do is read the book and show up.

Be Open to New Genres

As someone with my own personal reading challenge of 52 books this year, I have a habit of falling back on genres I know I already like when looking for my next book. I’m big on science and historical fiction and when I’m feeling lazy, I’ll treat myself to some YA. Our club is full of readers with diverse tastes and I’m looking forward to picking up some books that I might not have read on my own.

Women Are an Amazing Support Network

The Christchurch attacks took place on 15 March and we happened to have our next meeting on 19 March. We spent the night oscillating between decompressing from the insanity, talking about our experiences from the last few days and distracting ourselves with wine and good company. I didn’t leave our friend’s house until 11pm that night, but when I did leave, I felt comforted and at the same time strengthened by these amazing women. I certainly don’t expect every meeting to be so clouded by trauma but it was powerful to see how impactful this group of friends, gathered from various parts of my universe, has already been in my life, and we’ve only met a few times. There is strength in solidarity and it’s comforting to know that we can lean on each other whenever we’re needing a little extra support.

Thinking of starting a book club? Do it! Leave a comment below if you’re after any more tips on how to get one started!


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