Ten Tips for Organizing a Successful Book Group

Do you belong to a book group? I do, and this is one of my observations: a fabulous book does not necessarily guarantee a fabulous discussion.

Ten Tips for Organizing a Successful Book Group

When everyone is in agreement, there isn’t much to talk about. But if there are diverse opinions, it makes for a much more satisfying conversation.

My book group has been around for 20 years or more. None of us can remember exactly when it began. It is primarily a women’s group, but once a year we invite our husbands/significant others to join us for the book and a potluck dinner.

Now having read hundreds of books, I can say that success is often hit or miss and there is never a guarantee that  well-recommended book will spark a great discussion. Sometimes we are surprised which way it goes.

Anyway, here are some tips that have worked well for my book group and may work for yours.

Ten Tips for Organizing a Successful Book Group

  1. An August get together is when we share suggestions. This is how we come up with selections for the coming year.
  2. If we need ideas, we can use online resources like Goodreads and Oprah’s Book Club.
  3. We make sure that at least one person in the group has already read the book.
  4. Historical fiction is a consistent winner, especially little known history.
  5. We try to choose a book with content that relates to social issues or contains controversial subject matter.
  6. We like to read authors representing the spectrum of nationality and ethnicity.
  7. Usually we opt for contemporary novels, but memoir, classics and the occasional non-fiction mix it up.
  8. We are conscious of the length of the book. We want everyone to be able to finish it in time.
  9. At each meeting one person is responsible for researching the book and the author, to add background and context to the discussion.
  10. It is OK to agree to disagree. No opinion is wrong.

Last month my book group read Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. It is the story of ordinary, intertwined lives in the midwest small town of Amgash, Illinois. If you’ve read Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton you will recognize many of the characters in this novel.

I loved, loved, loved this novel. But I expected to. I am a huge fan of Strout’s writing.  I thought her Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge was pure magic.

About half of the group agreed with me on Anything is Possible. The rest had mixed feelings.

“I couldn’t follow it,” said one. “Too many characters and too many connections to figure out.”

I disagreed.

“Don’t you like when you reach a part where it starts coming together, and you say OMG, so that’s what’s going on?” I asked. “The ‘aha’ moment!”

“No, because I don’t like to have to go back and reread,” she responded.

“It was relentlessly sad,” said another.

I couldn’t deny that. “But there is beauty in the sadness,” I said.

Viva la difference!

This is exactly what makes book group discussions so much fun.

 

 photo Helenesig2.pngDigiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Helene Cohen Bludman
If you like my blog post, please share it!
Facebook Twitter Email Stumbleupon Pinterest Linkedin Delicious Reddit Tumblr Plusone Digg

Comments are closed.

Post Navigation

Start