Looking for ways to up the ante when it comes to your already-awesome book club? Here are some things you can do you might never have otherwise considered:
Name the group
Giving your group a name is a way to create an identity for your group. My book club initially started over the water cooler: there were several of us in the office who loved literary fiction, and we’d pass books back and forth and talk themes over our cubicle walls. Eventually someone floated the idea of making the discussions formal and forming a book club (you can read the whole story in my post “Book Club Profiles: My ‘Indoor’ Book Club”). Since all of us had dogs, we decided to call ourselves the “Must Love Dogs Book Club,” and that became the name of our private Facebook page and a common theme we could all rally around.
We don’t read books about dogs (generally speaking), and we’ve since added a member who doesn’t actually love dogs, but our name is part of who we are. Need help? Here are some questions to consider when coming up with your own fun and clever book club name:
Keeping a club memory book
It’s nice to have a record to go back and refer to when it comes to book club. Sometimes you just need to know who’s turn it is next to pick the book, or maybe you want to know when you read a certain piece of literature a few years back. Depending on your group’s tech savvy, a blog or a social media group may work fine for this purpose.
But if you have one or more people who are crafty, a special scrapbook with photos, members’ opinions, discussion highlights, favorite quotes and more can be a very special memento (and can help bring new members up to speed).
Finally, when it comes to saving the world, having your own go-to “Bible” of your history is admittedly a very cool thing.
Be a force for social good
If you’re really invested in changing the world with your book club, this is the way to do it. There are plenty of literary and literacy charities out there that could use your donation. Maybe your club will decide to buy books for Toys for Tots during the holidays, or volunteer to work a few hours a year with a tutoring program.
Invite a local expert to speak at your book club
Another excellent way to leave your mark on the world — by bringing in outside people to share their knowledge. Not only does it make the expert feel good (I’m assuming you’re not inviting Toni Morrison to stop by for chips & dip here), but it gives you a wider experience of the book and the world.
Consider adding a few special meetings to your schedule every year where you recognize and honor your group, what you do and how you do it. Holiday gatherings are an easy place to start, and so are Outdoor Book Club trips & workshops (I can even design a custom trip, just for your group!), if you really want to make the event special.
Also consider meeting not to discuss a book, but to go for a hike, a movie or a volunteer event (my book club went to see Anne Lamott speak and we’re still talking about how great that was) so you can get to know each other in a little different context.
Decide on a theme or assign a craft or a project for the book
Have everyone bring a food related to the event (when my book club read The Paris Wife by Paula McLain, we served French-themed food to get in the spirit). You could also make paper kites after reading Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner.
What quirky, funny or very smart things has your book club done to go above and beyond the call of duty? Leave your ideas in the comments below.
Want even more book-clubby goodness? Download my Kindle ebook "How to Start A Book Club that Changes the World" from Amazon to learn exactly how to start a book club that beats the pants off of any other book club you've ever been a part of.
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Jill Hinton Wolfe