Starting a book club in today's day and age makes you a heroine in my books. You know why? Because it’s hard — damn hard — in today’s world of multiple calendars, varied commitments and general feelings of malaise to regularly get a group of smart, interesting people together to discuss life- and world-changing works of literature (because even 50 Shades of Grey changed the world, in its own weird way).
First you have to decide what kind of books you’re going to read, then you have to pick the right people — who sometimes are total strangers (in which case the Universe picks them for you, which sometimes leads to pure magic). Once that’s done, you need to pick a date and time which works for everyone, which, let’s be honest, is near impossible for many fledgling book clubs. You have to pick the right books. You have to ask the right questions.
But those things aren’t the hardest part of starting a book club that changes the world.
You know what is? Deciding to make the commitment: committing to read the book, to show up as regularly as possible, to be there for the other people in the group. Woody Allen once said that “eighty percent of success is showing up” —and nowhere is that more true than for a book club.
My husband was telling me a story recently about a play group he knew about when his kids were younger (we’re both on our second marriage). Everyone wanted to be a part of this play group. They were organized, confident and happy, and everyone played by the rules.They didn’t flake out or schedule other things during the normal play group time. No one overstepped their bounds, because the boundaries were very clear and respectful. This is what makes a great book club too — the idea that this group is important to you, and everyone is invested in committing the time and energy to make it run smoothly.
But I believe in you!
With the right guidance, you can form a book club that’s truly transformative for its members. By changing your lives, you change the world — because our lives are all a part of a huge tapestry of lives. When you pull one small string, the whole tapestry is changed. Books have that power: they hold within their pages the capacity to make us see our lives, the choices we make, and how we interact with others, differently.
So why not not lay a truly powerful foundation?
Does that mean asking the right people? Finding the right structure? Picking the right books? Of course all these things matter when forming a phenomenal book club, but it’s more than that: it’s a very specific magic that happens when all these things fall beautifully into place. It doesn’t happen every time, and with every group. But if you’re thoughtful what you want your book club to be, open to the fact that your group will change in wonderful ways you never could have imagined, and your heart(s) are in the right place, I think you’ll find your book club gives back to you and its members for years to come.
Shall we get started?
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Jill Hinton Wolfe