Reading groups are a great way to share your love of good stories with other people. The group can be of any type of literature and can be made up of friends and strangers. To start a group, you will need to find members by promoting it through word of mouth, flyers, or online posts. Set a time and meeting place that work well for everyone who wants to come. The key to a successful group is having fun and sharing a productive conversation.
Part 1 of 4: Find Members for the Group
Step 1. Decide what kind of book will be read
The book club may have a specialized focus, such as science fiction novels or poetry. The group can also be kept open and contain a variety of groups. This is your group, so choose the genres that you like to read. This way, you can find members who share your interests.
You don't need to choose any specific books to read at this time, but doing so can help you set a goal for what you want for the group
Step 2. List the special characteristics you want in the members
Most of the reading groups are very diverse and open to foreigners. If you want something different, that's fine too. Maybe you just want your friends to be a part of it, or maybe you want to start a women's group. Think about these details before forming the group.
Step 3. Invite people you know to the group
The easiest way to start a group is to invite your friends. If you know of a friend or family member who would be a good fit in the group, invite them. Make sure they are interested in the types of books you want to read.
A group of all of your friends can be overly chatty, which can take time away from the conversation about the book
Step 4. Invite strangers to come to the group
Get in touch with the people you see around town. People who read books in libraries or coffee shops may be interested in joining the group. You can see what books they read to find out what their interests are. Although inviting strangers may seem difficult, they often enhance groups by bringing new perspectives.
Step 5. Tell everyone to recommend the group to other people
Friends, family, and colleagues may not be suitable for the group, but they may know someone who is. People who decide to join the group can bring someone they know. Even strangers may have recommendations for you. Generate interest in the group through verbal information and you will find members with whom you would not have contacted otherwise.
Say something like, "If you know someone who might be interested in the group, give them the information they need."
Step 6. Post ads around town
Print out some group flyers. You can make them at home or at a copy center. Include a brief description of the group's approach. Tell potential members what kind of books the group will focus on. Include your contact information. Post the flyers around town in the community bulletin board in schools, libraries, cafeterias, community centers, and other crowded areas.
If you have any special membership conditions, such as gender or age, include them as well
Step 7. Promote the group online
The internet is a good place to connect and stay in touch with anyone who is interested in the group. Create a group on Facebook or BigTent. Share the group on social media to generate interest. You can also post an ad on the Craigslist community session or similar sites.
Part 2 of 4: Starting the group
Step 1. Find a venue for the first meeting
Quiet, public places work well for a kickoff meeting. Consider reserving space at a community center, library, church, or café. Work with the members of the group you have recruited to find a location. If everyone in the group is searching, finding a good venue can be easy. Meetings are generally preferable close to where you posted the flyers.
- You can have the meeting at your home, but that can be awkward for people who don't know you well.
- Remember to contact public places in advance to reserve space for the group.
Step 2. Work with the other people in the group to set a good time for the meetings
Try to get the majority of group members to attend. Think of a day when you are available and coordinate with the members of the group and with the venue you have chosen. Everyone has different hours, so you will have to stay open. Weekends are generally ideal times, as many people are off work or school.
The ideal group size should be approximately 16 members. You need enough people to start a conversation, but too many can make the group too crowded
Step 3. Invite everyone weeks in advance
People will forget about the meeting, so send them some reminders. If you can, gather the contact information of interested members before holding the first meeting. Call or email them two weeks in advance. A day or two before the meeting, send them another short reminder.
The reminder can be a short message saying "Hope to see you all on Saturday."
Part 3 of 4: Conduct the first meeting
Step 1. Get to know everyone
You don't need to talk about books on the first day. Instead, it is helpful to spend time getting to know the new members of the group. Ask them to introduce themselves and talk about their favorite books. Get them to relax with icebreaker games (for example, putting questions in a hat and asking people to pick questions to answer).
It is helpful to incorporate some games based on books. For example, you can ask people to expand on the end of the novels or to guess who said a quote
Step 2. Think of a name for the group
Think of a particular name for the group. A good one allows the group to feel official and helps members feel like they are part of it. Let all members suggest names.
Step 3. Plan when the next meeting will be
Now is the perfect time to ask for opinions about the group. Find out when everyone is available. Ask them if the time and location work well for them. Also talk about how often you want to meet. If you must move the group to a new location, such as someone's home, make sure all members agree.
- As the group continues, you can maintain spontaneity by alternating meeting areas. For example, everyone in the group can take turns holding the meeting at home. Give people who live far away the opportunity to drive less.
- Stick to the schedule during future meetings. When everyone knows what to expect, you can achieve what you want from the group.
Step 4. Establish a reading schedule
If you haven't chosen the first book yet, discuss it with the group. Think of a perfect book to start with, then decide how many members you will read during the next meeting. The appropriate length depends on the difficulty of the book and the date of the next meeting. If the group meets a lot, you can limit the reading to a few chapters. Make sure in advance that the chapters are easy to finish and interesting enough to talk about.
- Ideas for books can come from group members, best-seller lists, or recommendations from other book clubs.
- Assure group members that they are welcome even if they haven't finished reading. They can still be part of the group and have something to contribute.
- Don't be afraid to adjust the schedule as you go. Sometimes you may need more talk time about a previous reading. Consult with group members to come up with a plan.
Step 5. Decide who will lead the next meeting
Many groups let the person who suggested the book lead the first conversation. As the group leader, you will likely be the one to do it at the beginning. When they read new books, you can try to get people to take turns. Don't force anyone to lead the conversation, but try to delegate responsibility among the other members of the group.
The leader should present some questions or topics for discussion. The initial questions need not be complex. A simple question can be something like "What do you think of the book?"
Step 6. Set a time for the conversation
Some groups focus more on socializing than conversation. Most groups benefit from both. Remember what you want to achieve with the group and tell the others about it. You can set the mood by working with group members to set the schedule. For example, you can limit your socializing time to an hour before continuing the conversation about the book.
Step 7. Order snacks
Food and drink make everything better. If the meetings are in a restaurant or cafe, you probably don't need to bring anything. You can decide that everyone brings a plate from home. You can also end up providing a light snack. Find out what the group's snack can be and who should bring it.
It can be helpful to ask everyone to bring a plate so that one person does not take care of preparing all the food. You can also toggle who brings what by creating a schedule
Part 4 of 4: Conduct a conversation
Step 1. Write notes in the book
As you read the book, write down the parts that stand out to you. Mark important quotes, character development, or other details. Include the page numbers so everyone can find these parts again. Take your notes and use them to have a good group conversation.
Step 2. Ask questions
Asking people what they thought of the book is an acceptable initial question. Use the notes to ask deeper questions or search the internet for conversation ideas. Write a list of non-specific questions from the book in case the conversation starts to stagnate.
Examples of non-specific questions include "What was the message of the book?", "Who did you identify with?", "How did the characters change?" or "Why did the author choose this title?"
Step 3. Keep things moving when the conversation stops
As a group leader, it's your job to keep people's interest. Pay attention to when people seem listless or don't have much to say about a topic. Maintaining the energy level is important to make the group successful. People will not come back if they get bored.
For example, ask the group about the subject of the book. If the conversation slows down, say something like "I think what the character did is the essence of the topic" or "I really liked how the author phrased the topic by saying that." Explain what the character did or what the author wrote
Step 4. Ask the group members to ask questions
Give the floor to other members. Is there anything about the book you want to ask? Let them get involved and ask them to share their views on the reading. A question you never thought of can lead to an interesting conversation.
Ask them "What do they think of this part?" or "Was there anything that confused you about reading?"
- Don't be afraid if things are a bit complicated at first. People, including you, will get more comfortable over time.
- Diversity can make the group more interesting. Don't be afraid to invite people who are not part of your group of close friends.
- Not all people will like every book. Encourage them to keep an open mind and give everyone a chance to share the books they enjoy.
- A good idea for a party is a "book exchange." Ask everyone to wrap a book they like. Then have everyone take home one.