What is your favorite book?
My all-time favorite is Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera, but it’s hard to pick a favorite from the hundreds I’ve read over the years.
I think just about everyone loves a good book, either on paper, an ebook, or an audio book. They take us away to stories of romance, adventure, history, and fantasy. Or, if you are a literature major like I was, you slogged through tomes about existential crises or boring philosophical treatises.
But any way you slice it, books are fabulous, and nothing beats the satisfaction of sharing good stories with others. One of my readers requested that I write about how to start a book club, and I don’t have to look any further than my sister Liz.
Liz is a dedicated, fabulous teacher who loves all things Jane Austen. One of her best friends, Cheryl, read The Jane Austen Book Club and got an idea to do something similar. So she convinced her sister, sister-in-law, Liz, friend Jamie, friend Erin, and Erin’s friend Tiffany to start a book club. It revolves around all things Austen.
Cheryl is the driving force behind the book club. She selects the seven titles to read each year. Every September, all the girls meet to set the dates, decide who will host which meeting, and Cheryl lets them know the book titles.
The meetings all follow the same format:
- Each member hosts the club once a year. They are in charge of snacks—which of course include tea or lemonade, finger sandwiches, and desserts. They food is something similar to what Austen would have eaten, but of course they can put a 21st-century twist on the food.
- The host is also responsible for discussion questions. Liz either finds them online, or she takes notes as she reads her book and makes up the questions that way. They debate major themes, plot points, and if they liked the book or not.
- Then there is a craft or project that relates to the first two decades of the nineteenth century. The book club has made quill pens, teacup bookmarks, needlepoints, or silhouettes that were very popular back then. They have also learned how to play card games popular during the Georgian era.
Jane Austen only wrote six books, I can hear some of you thinking. So what do they read every year?
- During the first year, the book club read the original Austen novels.
- Year two, the girls read books all written from male characters’ perspectives.
- Years three and four were fan-fiction novels, some of them bestsellers (such as The Jane Austen Book Club.)
- In the fifth year, they revisited the original novels.
- The club is in its sixth year, and they are reading spin-offs of the original novels.
I asked Liz if she ever gets tired of reading the same type of books, but she doesn’t. She loves the social time, hanging out with friends she doesn’t see often, and she has enjoyed almost all the books she has read.
Now while Liz’s book group is exclusively dedicated to Jane Austen, you can get creative. Maybe you are a fan of Harry Potter, Twilight, or The Hunger Games. Maybe you read novels set in Paris or Italy. Or you focus on a certain period of history.
Maybe you want to read books with a purpose. You get together with co-workers or other entrepreneurs to read business or self-development books. There are no limits to topics.
I hope this gives you an idea of how to start a book club and structure meetings. You don’t have to have a large group, and you don’t even have to meet every month. But you do have to have a love for books and want to share that with others!
What topics interest you if you could star a book club? Comment below!