How Many Do You Need?
While only three to four dedicated readers can make a functional book club, you’ll want more to keep discussions interesting and to account for people missing meetings. When we meet in someone’s home, it seems as though discussions work really well with 6 to 10 people; many more and it gets too crowded and not everyone gets a chance to speak; too few and it feels like you don’t get enough perspectives on the book.
Starting a group from scratch means you’ll need to find members – ask everyone you know if they’re interested, or if they know anyone who might be. Emphasize that no commitment is required – you don’t want to scare people away at the start, thinking they’re signing up for a long-term obligation.
If you’re having trouble finding possible members, see if nearby libraries or bookshops will advertise the group. If you are a member of any other group (church, sports team, local Facebook group, etc.), see if that produces any leads.
When you’re just starting out, you’ll likely want to invite more people to participate than you think you ultimately want – you’ll likely lose attendees as things get settled. However, keep in mind that if a group begins to grow too large you may have decisions to make such as capping membership, or splitting into two groups.
Don’t be discouraged if it takes some time to grow your group – a small group of dedicated readers can still make for a fabulous book club.
Thinking About The Group
As you set up your group, you’ve got to decide if you want a more homogeneous group (such as women only; of similar ages or life stages), or if you’re going to try for a diverse group. It may be harder to pull together a diverse group, but it can provide for much more interesting discussions.
Members Versus Guests
Eventually you’ll need to decide if there is a difference between members of the book club, and guests. Is there any benefit to being a member (such as voting on upcoming books)? Can guests become members? Do guests have to become members to keep attending? Are you even open to new members? Can members bring occasional guests, even if the book club is generally closed to guests?
This is part of the Booked: Reading Together series. Throughout October, I’m writing all about book clubs.
Check out the archives in case you missed a post.
Previously on The Deliberate Reader
Two years ago: 31 Days of More Great Nonfiction: The Ungarnished Truth
Three years ago: 31 Days of Great Nonfiction: The Road from Coorain