An article I read recently, stated that today’s book clubs and reading groups are populated by bourgeois middle-class women, looking to improve their minds. While this may be true, every book club has its own unique personality. Finding one to fit you might take a lot of thought. Or it’s possible that a group will be spontaneously generated by moms in your playgroup or friends in your bunko club. I spent several years envying friends who participated in reading clubs, but searched long and hard for a particular group that met my specific requirements. I’m happy to say that I am thrilled with the book club that I joined, and it was worth the wait to find exactly what I wanted.
Perhaps you, too, are interested in starting or looking for a book club. Finding a group can be as simple as joining one at the local library or may take more research. IMHO, there are several factors to take into consideration when joining a reading club.
For example, when does the club meet? Are you interested in getting together with others in the daytime, nighttime, or on a weekday or weekend? How often do you want to commit to attending a get-together? How far are you willing to travel to share your reading experiences, and where are the meetings held? Bookstores or libraries? Private home, restaurant or community room; park, playground or church?
Many times just locating a club of fellow bibliophiles can be difficult. Bookstores, libraries and schools are all good places to start your search, but don’t rule out searching online, publishers’ websites, friends and family, checking notice boards, facebook or using a website such as meetup.com for availability.
A lookery at how the group is hosted is important. Some groups randomly trade off hosting duties while others limit their membership to a certain number so that a strict hosting rotation calendar can be kept. Or perhaps one person is designated the leader on a permanent basis, such as a librarian, instructor of some sort, or the owner of a bookstore. How are the books to be read chosen for each gathering? How much responsibility for hosting, leading and maybe even choosing the reading material do you want to shoulder?
Consider subjects such as genre. Do you want to read only classics, sci-fi, faith-based literature or non-fiction, for example? If you select a group with a miscellaneous category selection, you need to have an open mind toward exploring books that you might not otherwise pursue.
Reading clubs can often have demographic parameters. Gender, age, couples, mother/daughter, religion – any number of membership requirements exist. Look for a group made up of people with whom you will enjoy reading, examining and discussing books. Being comfortable with expressing your point of view in a meeting is of paramount importance.
And lastly, but very importantly, how social or serious do you want the book club you join to be? Will discussing the book under review as well as other topics over a glass of sauvignon blanc satisfy your needs, or do you want to stick to a strictly academic consideration of the current selection? Would you like to maintain a relationship with other members outside the confines of the book club?
Most of these questions were on my mind as I waited to find what I was beginning to think was an impossible match for me and a book club. But in time, and with the help of many of the suggestions above, I found a fabulous group to belong to! Best wishes for finding a literary home yourself, and remember the line from Emily Dickinson‘s poem “There is no frigate like a book…”. Make sure the voyage and your fellow passengers in this journey promise fair weather and smooth sailing!