Thursday, December 17, 2009

Guest Post at Booking Mama



Thanks again to Julie at Booking Mama for allowing my to share my "book group rules" with her readers. I hope they are helpful!!

And just in case you missed them, here they are:

Book Club Rules for The Big Love Book Group

I was asked by a friend recently how we started our book group -- I’m sure there is an official book group handbook out there somewhere (it probably has Oprah’s seal on the front)…but here are my rules (and I made them up as I went along):

1. Ask a lot of like minded friends to join. I sent postcards to nearly everyone in my women’s church group. Only 10 women came to our first meeting. You must have devoted readers, or people will drop out, or won’t read the book, or they will only come because there are refreshments. Which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but for those who are there to discuss a book, secondary chatter is forbidden and non-participants eaten.

2. You need to decide at the beginning WHAT you want to read: Adult fiction/non-fiction/YA literature/Christian fiction. My group is an adult fiction/non-fiction group – they are very vocally opposed to anything that varies from those choices. It's easier as a group to start out all "on the same page" than to hear people complain about what you are or are not reading (been there, done that). If your members aren’t in agreement – they need to “go rogue” and start a separate group.

3. Pick something readily available and has multiple copies at the library, so people don't feel obligated to buy the book (we're in a recession folks!). The more people that have access to the book, the more successful the discussion. I absolutely hate the excuse, "I didn't read because I couldn't find a copy.” Our library has book group “kits.” They come with 10 copies of the book and discussion questions. They are extremely helpful.

4. We don't pick books that are only available in hardback -- again, the cost issue and access issue. The Help won't be on our "to-read" list anytime soon, because there are 50+ holds on it at our library system and only available in hardback. The only time we've made an exception to this rule was when we picked The DaVinci Code, and for some reason, enough people had copies, there were plenty to pass around.

5. This is not necessary, but I'm the unofficial book group leader -- so I assign months for every member to discuss a book. It eliminates the blank stares that plagued us when we first started, and the question, "whaddya want to read?" Fortunately, we have enough members that we each usually pick one book a year. Then we all volunteer to host once a month. For those of us with small children it's more difficult to host, but I try to host during the summer months when school/bedtimes aren't an issue.

6. Pick a night and stick to it. We always meet on the 3rd Thursday. Regardless if we have 2 members or 12. And we only meet 11 months out of the year. We take December OFF because of the holidays and reconvene in January. We try to pick a longer book to read during that time. Our greatest accomplishment was reading Gone With the Wind 5 years ago.

7. This rule is also optional, but we try to pick a book that someone has read before, so we don't have any surprise objectionable material. We have a fairly conservative group of women, so some graphic content (violence or sexual) is not welcome (although, I read just about anything in a binding).

8. Pick a snazzy name: We are The Big Love Book Group – don’t ask me why, but I promise, there isn’t a sister-wife among us.

9. Have LOTS of yummy refreshments! Because, really, it’s all about the food!