Last year when Lisa and I were discussing our New Year’s Resolutions I mentioned that I wanted to start a book club. A teacher at work was always talking about hers and it seemed like it was so much fun. I felt like it would be the perfect mix of reading and socializing; it would give us an excuse to get together once a month and it would also push us to read more (both things that I wanted to do!).
Lisa immediately agreed that I had to start one and we began planning! I’m pretty sure this was the only resolution I kept last year but it I’m so glad that I did! If you are thinking of starting your own book club (which you definitely should) read on for my suggestions. Now, I have only been doing this for a year so please let me know what has worked for you and your book club, too!
1. Choose Members Wisely
Once we decided that we were going to start a book club the first thing we needed were members. We had 3 requirements for members of our book club. The first requirement was obviously someone who liked wine. The second was that they needed to like to read. The final requirement was that they had to be fun—who wants to hang out with someone every month if they’re not fun!? We decided to ask 3 of our friends (who we met either in college or through our college friends) who met all of these requirements.
Once we had our first meeting and other people started hearing about our book club they obviously wanted to join. We decided to keep it small because working around 5 schedules is hard enough, we couldn’t imagine working around more. And also, the more people you have the more expensive it would be to provide food and wine. We may allow other members to join eventually, but our group of 5 is perfect for now!
2. Set Ground Rules
Before we even started the book club we came up with some rules. First of all we all discussed the types of books we did NOT want to read. This included genres such as fantasy, historical fiction and smut (I know, bummer). We figured that we wanted everyone to at least have a chance of enjoying the books so we wanted to weed out the genres that didn’t appeal to us right away. Next, we decided that each month one person would be the “host”; they would be responsible for choosing the book, hosting the other members, and providing the food and drinks. Lastly, we talked about how serious we were going to be about the club. Ultimately we decided that we were more concerned with the gossip and wine (obviously) than the actual literary elements of the book. Now don’t get me wrong, we still discuss the books, but that definitely only amounts to a little bit of the time spent at our book club.
3. Serve (lots of) Food and Wine
Please refer to the above paragraph. The wine (and food) is the most important part of our book club! It is up to the host to decide what kind of food to serve and how much of it to have. When I hosted the first month I wanted to do something super creative and have all of the food make you think of something in the book. Unfortunately the first book we chose was not an easy book to do this with, so I just opted for a regular (boring) spread. The types of food we have enjoyed at our book club include: pizza & salad, a charcuterie board, appetizers, catering from the local grocery store, and an assortment of Trader Joe’s favorites. And of course…lots of WINE.
4. Be Flexible
This was an interesting year for the members of our book club. There were 2 pregnancies (and 1 baby so far—congrats, Lisa!), 2 houses bought and renovated, and 1 death (of a very close family member). This meant that we had to be super flexible. We had to reschedule a few times because people didn’t have enough time to finish the book, we skipped December all together (because…holidays), and we even had book club at a wine bar instead of the host’s house (that was under construction)!
After all of the above we needed a little break, so this month we decided that we would all read a book of our own choosing and share with the group whether or not we would suggest that they read it too. I’m sure we’ll go back to choosing one book for everyone to read but for now this is working for us. Everyone has stuff going on in their lives and you have to be understanding and flexible if you want to keep your book club an activity everyone looks forward to instead of something else that we HAVE to do each month.
5. Get Creative
Once I decided to start the book club I did the obvious thing anyone would do: I hopped on Pinterest and looked for cool ideas. Now, I am not a very creative person but I was able to find a few cute things that I could provide for the members of our club. First, I decided on the motto of our book club – “reading between the wines”. It seemed like the obvious choice for our group since the wine is more important than the books (see above again!). I wanted to commemorate this motto so I made book marks for everyone (yes, they’re laminated…I was a teacher!)
I also found cute socks that say “our book club reads between the wines” at John’s Crazy Socks. This was not only perfect becuase of the quote, but John’s Crazy Socks is an organization run by a man with Down syndrome and his dad so my money was also going to a good cause! I’m sure there are much cooler things that people have done for their book clubs but these two things were easy and fun to do/find and the other members seemed to really appreciate them!
I hope after reading this that you decide that a book club is just what you and your friends need in your lives. I also hope that these suggestions help you once you decide to start one! Please keep us posted and let us know if you do start one and what you found helpful! Also, if you want a copy of the bookmarks, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send them along! Happy reading (and drinking)!