How to Start a Book Club, According to Oprah

How to Start a Book Club, According to Oprah

the only clubbin’ i can handle these days.

I used to read all the time. I was always the consummate used bookstore junkie who carried well-loved titles with her at all times and had them scattered throughout her home. A cross-country move eradicated my enthusiastic collection and pared it down to a more manageable, sensible, size. But somehow my love of the written word was diminished by my now modest accumulation, as well as the new digital revolution that was changing publishing. Or maybe I just got lazy and complacent. Probably all of those things.

After getting embarrassed by an “essentials you must read” list that was circulating recently (thanks for that soul-crushing blog, Buzzfeed), I’ve decided I want to (need to, must) start a book club.  And who knows more about leading a thriving book club than Ms. “You get a car!” herself, Oprah?

Okay, it might not have been Oprah that put down this helpful eight (eight!) page guide, it was likely one of her media minions. But the suggestions are practical elements I might not have thought of, and seem like a solid start to get some folks together to drank and discuss literature. Here are some highlights:

  • Who will lead the book club meetings? Will it be the same person every time, or the person who suggested the book? Who will keep a record of all the books read, when they were discussed, and who suggested them?
  • Is there a price limit to the books you’ll be reading? Paperbacks only, for instance?
  • And if you are meeting in person:  Where will subsequent meetings be held? In the same location, at the home of that meeting’s leader, or in a community room somewhere else, like a library or bookstore?
  • Will refreshments be served?  Who will provide them? Will they be connected to the theme of the book being discussed?
  • Your group may be able to reach a consensus on the first book everyone will be reading. If, however, you haven’t reached a decision after 30 minutes or so, try one or more of these techniques. Take a vote. After everyone has presented their suggestions take a vote on each title. If you have a tie, have another vote. Simply take turns. Go alphabetically, by birthdays, or by whatever order you decide. Whoever’s turn it is selects the next book to be read… write down the title of each book, then put them all in the bowl and have someone pick one (or more).

Maybe bringing tangible books back into my routine will encourage those old habits as well as stimulating more beneficial social interactions too. Or should an avid reader be resigned to fully joining the digital age and make technology work for her needs?  Share how you keep your relationship with reading strong, in the comments below.  Casandra Armour

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