Starting A Book Club
When I moved to Wausau I started a Book Club. I called it "Appetizing Reads" because the restaurant offers free appetizers in exchange for our group using their space once a month and buying drinks on the regular. When I started the book club I wasn't sure what to expect but it has prospered into an ever changing and evolving group. Every month there is a different group and some regulars have been coming since day one! I feel honored everytime we meet and have met some of the most amazing people through the club. Not only does it bring together people who love to read but people who are from out of the area looking to meet new people! If you are thinking about starting a book club and need advice, contact me I'd be happy to help! Appetizing Reads has been meeting for 3 years now! I can't even believe it. I was inspired to start the book club by a book club I attended in Minneapolis that has now become a show you can watch on public television called Books and Bars. I still reference their site when I am looking for a good book to read!
A Few Suggestions when Starting a Book Club:
Find a Location that you can Frequent
Make a deal with a local restaurant. If you bring a group of 5 people there that are all going to buy a drink and they give you a free appetizer, they are making out on the deal! If they have a private back room maybe you can get the room for free if you make an agreement to meet on the regular on a day that isn't busy for them. Some book clubs meet at houses and alternate, and that's great too, but not if you are an open club for new members. People are more likely to come to a public space especially if they are coming alone. It also makes it much easier to keep it someplace that is always the same for schedule purposes and consistency!
Create A Brand:
When starting Appetizing Reads I knew I wanted to brand it because this was going to be an open group for the public to attend. That being said, it needed to have a catchy name and a good logo. I chose "Appetizing Reads" playing to different meanings of "appetizing" and showcasing the free appetizers! I also wanted something that was general to both males and females. When searching for names there were a lot of witty names that pertained to women but I wanted men to feel welcome as well. I didn't know how men would feel attending "Babes with Books." Who knows maybe that would have enticed them!
Make those Who Attend Feel Comfortable:
Not everyone is going to want to speak. Some people are introverts and are more interested in listening. That's okay too. Don't force those who don't want to speak to speak, but let them know that there is no judgment. I tell people to come who haven't even read the book! I want them to know that it's an open group that anyone can feel comfortable. As long as they don't mind spoilers they are always welcome to sit in hang out and enjoy drinks, appetizers and some good conversation! Sometimes those who don't read the book can still have really great insight on the discussion.
One thing that I didn't want to do was pick the book each and every time. That is how book club started and that was a lot of pressure for me! I felt bad whenever someone didn't like the book. Instead I decided I was going to create a vote where I would take people's suggestions on books, research books, and come up with a list for everyone to vote on. The vote has evolved just as much as the group has. We realized that we were reading a lot of the same genre so we decided to pick a different genre each month to vote on. I compile a list of books and we vote 6 months out so those that get their books from the library can get them in advance. Some people also read super fast and want to read the next book right away. So far it has been working very successfully!
Start a Facebook Page:
Start a facebook page for your club. At first I started it as an "event", but then I couldn't update it each time, so instead I started it's own Facebook page. That way each month you can create an event under that page and update it when needed. It is also a great place for people to share suggestions and discuss books!
Change It Up:
The first year only one person showed up for the book club in the month of January. When I asked people why they hadn't attended they said they had no time to read the book during the holidays. I decided then instead of doing a book for the month of January we would watch a movie. A movie is less time consuming then reading a book and it would mix things up a bit. That worked! More people came the next year during January and they even suggested we do more movies! We have also done a book exchange where we didn't read a book but just came to discuss books in general and those who wanted to could bring books and exchange them for others they hadn't read. Some people showed up with piles and piles of books and some showed up with none but we all left with books to read!
The most important thing is to laugh and have fun!