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Book Club 101


“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies.  The man who never reads lives only one.”  -George R. R. Martin

My book club meeting is one of the highlights of my month.  I look forward to it not only because of my great love for reading, but, because it is a chance to socialize with intelligent and interesting women who share my appreciation of books.  I am fortunate to be in a group with women who are also great cooks and entertainers, which immensely contributes to the enjoyment of these meetings!

Book clubs can serve different purposes for you at various stages of your life. If you live with tweens or teenagers, book club might just be the quickest escape route from the crazy train of hormones that comes barreling through your house with little or no warning.

Whatever your motivation for wanting to be a part of a book club doesn’t really matter, because I have found that when you get together with other book lovers to discuss a book it is rarely boring!  There are times when everyone in the group loves a book.  This unanimous sentiment can lay the groundwork for a pleasant evening in which members share what they found particularly meaningful or enjoyable about the book or characters in the book.  At the other end of the spectrum is the occasion that nobody likes the book, or there seem to be no redeeming qualities about any of the characters in the book.  This collective dissatisfaction might seem like it would put a damper on the evening; however, not all hope is lost!  I have experienced some very interesting and enlightening evenings centered on a book that offended some readers, that some readers found totally implausible or that some readers just couldn’t bring themselves to finish.   What I really enjoy, though, are the discussions when some readers love the book and some readers strongly dislike it.  This division has created some very fascinating and stimulating discussions in my book club.  It can be very thought provoking to be involved in (or just be an observer of) impassioned exchanges that arise from the book and readers’ varied reactions to the book.

I like hearing about other people’s book clubs.  I am always interested in what they are reading, who their members are and what their group dynamic is like.  I spoke with several friends and acquaintances that are in book clubs to find out what has made their group successful and meaningful.  I was not surprised to find that these groups who have been meeting anywhere from 5 to 12 years have a lot in common.  Here are some suggestions for getting your own book club going:

  1. Find people who share your love of books.  Your book club members do not have to be your best friends; in fact, it can make for a much more interesting and focused book club when you step out of the box and become involved with people from different walks of life.
  2. Limit your membership to 10 to 12 members.  This is a good number for sharing hostess duties for the year.  Also, if some members can’t make it to a meeting in any month, you will likely still have 6 to 8 members there; enough for a lively discussion.
  3. Each member should be assigned a month to hostess.  She should announce her pick well in advance of the meeting to make sure everyone will have time to read it.  In my book club, the hostess announces the book 2 months prior to her night.  This is a good amount of notice because most people can read a book in 2 months, yet it is not so early that you will forget what you’ve read!
  4. Read all types of books!  There should be one classic thrown in every year along with the “Oprah” books and the current popular titles.  Do some research on the author as well as reading the books.  Sometimes the author’s life is just as intriguing as the book!
  5. If there are times of the year that you and your group know are going to be extra hectic, just cross those off the calendar.  Some book clubs do not meet in the summer because people are often traveling.  My book club meets at a restaurant (Dutch treat) in November and we do not meet at all in December.  One book club I know goes to a movie in January because they don’t get much reading time in November or December.
  6. Keep book club about the books.  It is great to prepare a nice dinner in your home for the meeting, but it should not become a Martha Stewart competition.
  7. Keep an open mind!   You will not love every book that you read for book club and everyone will not love the book you choose.  However, you are reading and expanding your mind – that is what is really important!


1. The Poisonwood Bible  by Barbara Kingsolver

2.  The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

3.  The Help by Kathryn Stockett

4.  Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

5.  Little Bee by Chris Cleave

6.  Me Before You by JoJo Moyes

7.  Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

8.  The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

9.  This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

10.  Defending Jacob by William Landay


By Melissa Chaiken, Section Editor

Are you in a book club?  Do you have any tips for our readers?

We want to hear from you!

Send me an email at melissa@GoodLifeFamilyMag.com.

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