Thursday, December 22, 2022

Starting an In-Person Book Club

During Covid, I really missed in-person events. This year we saw many restrictions being lifted. I started chatting with friends about books (of course) and what we enjoyed to read. We kept sharing book recs and we thought it would be fun to start exploring multiple genres through our own recommendations. It was a small group of about 5 friends who read romance, young adult, thrillers, nonfiction, etc. While still following Covid protocols, we started to plan a small book club. Here are some things I did to facilitate the group and add more members along the way. 

Book selection: FURIA by Yamile Saied Méndez

Tip #1 Start Small

I started with 5 close friends who were interested in chatting anything and everything about books. This kept the group manageable. It’s totally okay if your group is a group of two as you find book lovers to join. You can also join your public library events to meet book lovers in person too.

Tip #2 Set a Date

What is realistic for your group? If your group consists of school-aged children, then perhaps after school hours. If your group consists of mostly parents, maybe on a week-end or during a child-friendly event. If your group consists of couples, perhaps a Friday/weekend night. If your group is like mine (mid 30 career-focused with busy schedules), then once a month works best. With work and life in between, a month gave us enough time to read our book pick. Decide with your group if you want to meet weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, etc. 

Tip #3 Switch Hosts

Honestly, it would be too much for me to plan the date, location, and host friends every single month. We all decided to take on a month. Each month had a different friend assigned (hence the host) and the host was responsible for either hosting at their place or choosing a place of their choice. This was fun because we all had a monthly meet up to look forward to at a friend’s house or a cool restaurant. It definitely took the pressure off of being a host each time.

Tip #4 Choose the Book

Since we all wanted to explore different genres, we let the host of the month choose the book choice. Each month we got to know the host a bit more by their book selection and also by the host having us over (win-win). This year, each host chose a different book genre from romance, young adult, self-help, thriller, and more. We all branched out to explore new book genres.

Tip #5 Choose the Questions 

Initially, I started creating the questions for the beginning months but life got busy trying to pull questions for each book. Instead, the host of the month chooses the book choice and also leads the question discussion for the group. Some hosts have detailed questions and others are more laid back with the exploration of the general topics. Sometimes the questions were included with the book, other times we Googled questions, and sometimes questions were just casual and on the spot. 

Tip #6 Keep it Organized

We created a group chat where we shared anything relative to the upcoming book meetings. As the organizer, I chatted with the next 3 hosts so they could let me know the book choices coming up. We also voted on the date of the meeting in advance so we had it on our calendar and had enough time to plan in case the host decided on a potluck. Staying organized helped us all plan carpooling, set the date aside on our busy calendars, and request/buy the books ahead of time.

Lastly, have fun! Sharing a hobby with others is enjoyable. The in-person group has grown from 5 members to almost 25 people (we had friends recommend friends). We now have a host of the month up until the end of 2023. While not all members can join monthly, half of the group usually makes it with some people joining virtually too. Book clubs are such a great way to have deep discussions and spend quality time. What is your book club like? I'd love to know! Leave me a comment letting me know what works for your book club.

Delia Ruiz (she/her) is a Latinx author, content creator, and book reviewer. She has served as a judge for the Jose Marti Awards, International Latino Book Awards, and the Bookstagang Awards. She enjoys stories showcasing BIPOC joy and everyday life. Join her on social media @aventuras.en.esl

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