Start your own book club

Everything you need to know to start your own reading group

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Having trouble motivating yourself to pick up that book a friend recommended months ago? Searching for a great new novel, but not sure where to look? A book club is a fun way to interact with people who share a love of reading. It’s also an easy way to make new friends. Here are our tips on how to get the book club ball rolling in your neighbourhood.

• Get started by posting notices promoting your club in local bookstores, around your office, in the library and in your local newspaper.
• Look beyond your friends! Try to bring together a diverse group of people who will bring interesting insight and viewpoints to your book discussions.
• Ask prospective book club members what their expectations are and what type of books they would like to read. Give each member a chance to pick a book that the group will read. It will expand your bookshelf and get you to read books you may have never chosen.
• Make your meetings fun! Have a potluck dinner, sip martinis, or provide coffee and treats.

Your group has finally picked this month’s must-read and you’re dying to dig right in. Whether you’re the leader of your group or simply a participant, reading a book for discussion differs from reading simply for pleasure.

Imagine yourself as a character in the story Ask yourself questions on how you would feel if you were the antagonist or protagonist. Search for meaning on why the characters of your novel are reacting a certain way and what you would do in the same situation. Do you share the same values? Compare them to people in your own life. Think about their strengths and weaknesses. This will help you imagine yourself in the story allowing you to relate yourself to the characters in the book.
Analyze the theme. Is the theme of the novel cut and dry? Or is the meaning hidden? Ask yourself what point the author is trying to get across and how that relates to the overall picture of the book.
Highlight sections and make notes. Jot down your reaction to the characters, the theme, the setting, and how they make you feel. You will surprise yourself when you go back and re-read your notes. It may even give you insight into your own life and will certainly save you time when searching for passages for later discussion.
Get to know the landscape. Do the setting and location change according to mood or tone? Is there meaning to a certain locale? Analyze why specific discussions happen in certain settings. It may help you better understand the characters and the theme of the book.
Don’t be afraid. Remember that just because a book was chosen – even if you did the picking – doesn’t mean you have to like it. Don’t be afraid to criticize the book however be prepared to justify your answers. What was it that you didn’t like? The characters? The style? The setting? Discuss!
Come prepared. Now that you’ve taken the time to read thoroughly and make notes you should be prepared to not only take part in your book club meeting but lead the discussion. Come prepared with at least 10 questions that you want to ask the other members in your group.

Once everyone gets to know each other, try spicing things up by hosting a theme night. Send out custom invitations, have some snacks on hand that reflect the setting of the book your group is reading and, if your group is game, ask each person to dress up as their favourite character.

Not sure which book to select to start off? Check out Chatelaine Beach Books, a compilation of juicy page-turners perfect for discussion.