The Book Nerd’s Guide to Starting a Book Club

Welcome to the Book Nerd’s Guide to Life! Every other week, we convene in this safe place to discuss the unique challenges of life for people whose noses are always wedged in books. See earlier posts here.

Now that the dust has settled after the holidays, it’s time for the Great Plunge: when all your New Year’s resolutions tumble off the teensy-weensy precipice of a ledge you’ve planted them on. Your diet plan might go by the wayside. Your exercise regimen never got off the sweaty gym floor. But you owe it to yourself to keep one of your 2016 promises: start your own book club. A book club covers a number of good habits: you’ll broaden and diversify your reading; you’ll broaden and diversify your social circle; you’ll broaden and diversify your list of excuses for not making karaoke night with your coworkers.

That said, there are some considerations to keep in mind. As with any gathering of humans, the development of a consistent, joyous, consistently joyous book club can be complicated. But if you simply follow these steps, you’ll be well on your way to success.

Find Friends

You’ll recognize them quickly. They’re the only things in your apartment who talk and whose spines you are absolutely not allowed to crack. If you’re low on friends who would like to commit to your iron-fisted book club rule, broaden your search to acquaintances—these are the folks who are likely not in your home, but are also not vaguely square-shaped. From there, feel free to advertise in your neighborhood, apartment complex, nearest bookstore, or library. Be advised: keep the size of the horde in mind. Fewer than four or five people and the discussion may be limited, more than 12 to 15 and conversation and coordination get unwieldy.

Set the Mood

There are a hundred ways to run a book club. Do you want to focus on one genre, or do you want free-range selections? Do you, as the ringleader, select the book, or is it a group vote? Is this a formal book club, or a wine-fueled chat sesh? These are the questions you’ll need to settle before you convene the group; if expectations aren’t set from the get go, you’re setting yourself up for failure—and possibly a revolt. Prudent to point out at this juncture: if you’re looking for a book selection, boy, are you in luck. We have a post for that.

Pick a Spot

It’s natural to think about hosting these monthly (biweekly? triweekly?) gatherings at your own home, but pause for a moment to be honest with yourself: do you have the stamina not only to clean and prep your home, but also fix some snacks, keeping in mind everyone’s dietary restrictions and preferences? If you do, mazel tov. If you’re like me, you do not and this should not be your primary course of action. You can always rotate hosting duties among group members, so long as you trust Alonso’s commitment to hors d’oeuvres. Otherwise, look for nearby coffee shops or bookstores where you can stretch out and have some space to yourselves.

Solidify Your Reign

Once you’ve decided on a convenient location, it’s time to actually meet! This is the moment you’ve been waiting for! But don’t rest on your laurels just yet, because this is where things fall apart for the unprepared. You must lay out the expectations for the group at the onset: “Oh? Didn’t have time to read the book three months in a row? Scram, freeloader. No more free grapes for you.” You will do this without sounding militant and alienating all those around you. It’s a fine line, but true leaders know how to walk it.

Keep It Together

Keep the books flowing. Listen to your members. Hold them accountable. You’ve got this, book nerd. You’ve got this. At least until 2017.

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