Oprah sitting on her desk.

7 Tips for Hosting the Perfect Book Club

Summer is a great time to finish some of those books on your “to read” list. Kill two birds with one stone: read a ton of books AND leave the house to discuss them. Get your friends involved and start a book club!

 

1. Use an online calendar

 

Oprah acting amused.

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Use a calendar that is accessible to everyone, editable, and maybe even comes with reminders. It helps to make the meetings scheduled on the same day, whether that’s the first Friday of the month, or every 15th and 30th. Choose one that works for everyone. Because schedules can be hectic and ever changing, so it is important to keep the dates flexible, and an online calendar can allow for easy access and rescheduling for conflicts.

 

2. Allow each member to have a say in the books you read

 

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It takes all types. While your book club can all probably agree on at least one or two books, there are probably a few books people have never heard of or have no interest in. Keep an open mind when it comes to reviewing suggestions or creating the schedule. If it becomes difficult to choose literature, you could all pick a theme, such as all the books Lisa Simpson has read.

 

3. Have enough members

 

Oprah saying "Do Not Waste Your Time"

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Maybe you and your best friend have the best rapport of anyone that has ever existed. Maybe you like to hear from all types. Keep member numbers at a comfortable level, so that discussions aren’t bland, but so there also isn’t crowded. It could be weird if it’s just you and your aunt’s dog’s groomer if multiple people miss the same meeting for a monster truck rally (classic excuse). Many people choose four and up, but do whatever comfortably works for your group.

 

4. Have reliable readers

 

Oprah saying "What is going on?"

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You probably have B.S.’ed your way through a book report or two, and we all are thankful for SparkNotes at those times of need. That isn’t, however, a tool to use for a book club. Don’t think of the reading as homework or a job, but rather as a discussion topic and a fun hobby. If you’re a slower reader, you can set chapters to read for each meeting rather than the whole novel.

 

5. Use different settings and different hosts

 

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Maybe you all live near the same coffee shop, or really like one of your friend’s mansions the most. It is important to change settings, however, to keep it lively. If you consistently go to one person’s house, you could be asking for too much from just them. By changing hosts, you can make sure that everyone is giving the same amount.

 

6. The host is not the discussion leader and vice versa. Evenly divide responsibility

 

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Everyone needs a turn to talk. Everyone needs a turn to lead. Different people can give different input and opinions, no matter the book. An I.T. specialist is going to think “Windows ‘98 for Dummies” is a different read than your great-great-great-great grandma. Keep discussion flowing by changing speakers, and make sure all voices are heard. If one person is hogging the floor, create a flow by asking if anyone else has anything different to say. Make sure to keep conversation lively but not aggressive. We all get passionate about books.

 

7. A Note on Music, Food, etc.

 

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Everyone has their own preferences when it comes to food and music. That being said, it would be wise to keep music lyrics to a minimum to promote lively conversation. There are several fantastic instrumental songs in every genre (my favorite is Explosions in the Sky and Miles Davis). They don’t have to be instrumental, as long as they can keep conversation concentrated on the book. While “Baby Got Back” is a piece of artwork, it may not be the most appropriate for the situation. When feeding people, keep food easy to eat. Think about how people are going to be able to interact. With a sandwich, they can keep one hand free for the book. But with some burritos, you need both hands, a pile of napkins, and a bib.

 

Feature image courtesy of LA Now