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Anyone in a book group - can you advise me to get one started please?

(39 Posts)
wendyhappysmile Mon 26-Oct-09 10:28:13

Hello all
I'd like to get a book group started but having never been to one am not sure of how they work, exactly! Would anyone like to let me know
a) is it worth it? do you enjoy it?
b) what compnonents make it successful?
c) how do I start? i.e. how many to invite, good first books etc

Thanks, would appreciate all your insights!

luciemule Mon 26-Oct-09 11:31:48

Choose a number of friends (say 6-8) and for the first one (at your house) ask everyone to bring a book they loved and that they don't want anymore. Put them all wrapped up in a bag and get each person to pick one out. That could then be your first book. At the second session, you can all talk about your book and if you liked it etc. Depending on whose hosting the second one, normally chooses the next book. They could either choose one and say that's the next one, or have 2/3 and let everyone vote on it.
Ask for opinions about how often to meet. Our book club was once a month but with 2 little ones,and being a preschool chairperson, I found it extremely hard to get through some of the books in 4 weeks. Also, rather than everyone trying to go out and buy the book, you could nominate one person to be the buyer from Amazon for example and he/she orders the books and then everyone pays on collection. At our's, the nibbles and wine were an important part!!!

wendyhappysmile Mon 26-Oct-09 18:26:52

Thanks, luciemule, that's really helpful info! I really like the sound of doing it, but am also worried about everyone being able to get through the books in time, and also everyone being able to afford to buy them each month. Think my library has a service for book clubs where you order several copies at once, which would determine what books to read.
Any more ideas, anyone?

thesecondcoming Mon 26-Oct-09 18:30:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

thelunar66 Mon 26-Oct-09 18:34:34

We started one in our village 10 years ago and it is still going strong. We do it through the library. They send us a list of books that are available to book groups at the beginning of the year and we vote for 12 titles. They send a box to us once a month with 15 copies of same book. We meet in the village hall on the last Wednesday of the month. The books are free from the library and we pay £1 each for the rent of the room in the village hall.

luciemule Mon 26-Oct-09 18:50:00

The library thing is a great idea. The only thing about having it at a village hall, is that it limits anyone who doesn't have a sitter that night. We used to ask if anyone had a specific night they couldn't get a sitter and they then hosted for that night.

pipsqueak Mon 26-Oct-09 18:54:52

we do a monthly meeting - we are a group of 9 women in totoal and we rotate round ecah others houses and who ever is hosting provides the wine/nibbles and choses the book . we tend to only go for softbacks to limit expense . we all get on really well and it is the great fun . we go out for ameal a couple fo times a year too .
go for it !!

nobid Mon 26-Oct-09 19:04:05

Not so sure about the Library thing! I used to go to a book group at the Library; they had a county-wide stack of 'readers' books and we selected off the list. They tended to be terribly PC, right-on sorts of subjects where you could practically see the writers crowbarring-in their precious research on women in 19th century muslim society, life in the trenches in WW1, etc.
There was no nibbles nor wine.
We had too many in the group- it was impossible for everyone to have their say and we never really got in-depth discussions.
Also we had a ghastly tradition where we would go round the group and people would share what else they had read that month and say whether they recommended it (we had a lot of retired ladies). I would just sit there blush and admit that I had only managed the set book.

pinknosedevereux Mon 26-Oct-09 19:19:01

This doesn't sound like the kind of library book groups I've been involved with nobid.

You can use your local library for book groups without having to hold your meetings there, so you can have the meetings in members homes or wherever.

wendyhappysmile Mon 26-Oct-09 19:23:56

nobid - planning a regular group myself, just getting the books from the library! They have a decent selection of books to choose from, contemporary stuff!
Thanks guys, brilliant ideas! Anyone got ideas about how to focus the discussion, or do you just go with the flow?
I'm an English teacher (well, SAHM atm!) so I am sort of perversely worried I'll make it too 'academic' when I suppose I shouldn't be worried about the discussion bit at all! I don't want everyone to be intimidated when they all know I'm an English teacher!

So do you all think maximum about 10 people, then?

Wine and nibbles will definitely be priority!!

thesecondcoming Mon 26-Oct-09 19:29:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mwahahahamwahahahallyroger Mon 26-Oct-09 19:32:51

I hit a snag with the library book club system. One person has to be responsible for it. And if you have 1 person who doesn't get their book back on time, that named person (ie me!) is liable for replacememnt of the book. It happened twice....angry
It is all too easy for one or two people to just drop out and disappear...

Lilymaid Mon 26-Oct-09 19:34:20

I belong to a group that consists of 10 members in theory - usually around 6 in practice. We do get our books from the library (this limits us to books that have been published for at least 2-3 years, so no best sellers). One of the librarians in the county library service helps set up groups in our county, but doesn't do any more than suggest an initial list and let you know how to order the books/set up a book club account.
We meet in each others homes roughly monthly and unusually do tea/coffee and cake/biscuit rather than the usual wine and nibbles (one of organisers had a drink problem at one time).
We suggest books for inclusion in the list and the organiser usually goes to the library and orders/collects the books. BTW we don't seem to have to pay any library fines for late return!

wendyhappysmile Mon 26-Oct-09 19:39:19

Sorry,thesecondcoming: those probably aren't necessarily the questions I would concentrate on in the classroom.

Conundrumish Mon 26-Oct-09 19:40:55

We meet monthly and are all really bad at finishing our books. It's become a bit competitive actually, sometimes everyone vying for position of having read the least!

I like it because it does make me stick at books I wouldn't otherwise finish.

thesecondcoming Mon 26-Oct-09 19:44:46

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

domesticslattern Mon 26-Oct-09 19:44:58

Here's how I espablished a book group.

We met for the first time to establish rules. There are about 10 of us in the group, so normally about 7 or 8 turn up to any one group.

Timing is always the same ie. the third Thursday of the month, so no faffing about with dates.

Starts at the same time regardless of who has managed to turn up- doesn't wait for latecomers.

Host supplies nibbles but guests eat dinner beforehand and bring drinks.

Host of the next bookgroup brings to the book group the month before a shortlist of about 4 or 5 books which they think are good. These are passed around and then we all vote on which one we want to read for next month. (Everyone has nuts and puts two nuts on their fave book and one on their second choice, the book with the most nuts wins!!). The only rule is that they are not too long as we all have kids so not a lot of spare time.

Everyone sorts out themselves for books with Amazon, local book shop or ordering from library all for themselves.

Can I also recommend that you have a mixed group book group (ie invite men as well as women) and do not allow discussion of babies etc. until after the book has been throughly discussed. Otherwise it just becomes a talking shop about gyny problems and sleeping problems of children (in my small experience!).

wendyhappysmile Mon 26-Oct-09 20:02:44

Wow, thanks everyone, this is great. second no, I know, I appreciate the ideas! grin Your group sounds just perfect!
Like the nut idea! Great way to choose.
Quite a few of my friends are pretty broke, and I don't want to exclude anyone from coming for cost (I love books and love buying them, but know not everyone is the same!) so that's why I'm thinking of the library idea! But most current ones are like £4 from the supermarket, aren't they!

wendyhappysmile Mon 26-Oct-09 20:03:01

So what shall I choose first?!

thesecondcoming Mon 26-Oct-09 20:07:28

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

MadBadAndWieldingAnAxe Mon 26-Oct-09 20:13:38

I'm also a book group veteran.

The only thing wrong with democracy (I never thought I'd hear myself say that) is that all book groups have one member who wants to prove how learned she is and insists on choosing obscure books that have just been translated from Ukrainian and are only available for £35.99 on Amazon. Having a rule about paperbacks/available from the library is essential.

Maria2007 Mon 26-Oct-09 20:49:10

I started a book group with a couple of friends a few months ago. We actually recruited through MN & got many members! It's going well so far. We do things a bit differently than people mention here- i.e. (because we're in london) we meet somewhere centrally that suits most people. I agree with having a set evening in the month plus ideally a set place to meet, it makes things simpler.

For us what's worked better is having a larger number of members- we tend to get 7-8 people at every meeting so having a larger number helps. As for choosing the books- each member is responsible to provide a selection every month, and then the other members vote (through email) & that's how we choose our books. Books that have already been read even by 1 member get replaced by another choice.

As for books to start with, I can't say really, it's up to you. Some books- even when lots of members don't necessarily- lead to interesting discussions. Other books, even though pleasant to read, lead to no real discussion! So it very much depends, you can't necessarily predict beforehand.

Oh. The food & wine are important, yes

newpup Mon 26-Oct-09 20:49:25

I have been part of a book group for a year now. I love it! There are 7 of us although usually at least one person can not make it.

We meet every 6 weeks. We always meet at the same person's house as she prefers that and the rest do not mind. We used to spend quite a long time discussing which book to read next but recently changed to a new system. We put all our names in a hat and pulled them out and in this order we choose the next book.

We read one new hardback book and then all agreed to stick to paperback ones.

We start at 8pm and usually finish about 10pm. Although the last half an hour is general chit chat. We are all women but of a variety of ages although we have similar interests and 4 of us are or were teachers! We do not mix socially outside the club though.

I love book club and really enjoy stretching my brain again!

wendyhappysmile Mon 26-Oct-09 21:02:10

newpup Did you have an initial meeting to discuss how things were going to work, or did one person just decide? And when you say you put names in a hat, do you mean that that person decides the choice on their own?
Maria That's interesting that you don't choose a book someone has read. I read loads - like 4 or 5 books a week blush so that will be hard for me!
This is really great, and I am more and more sold on the idea of starting a group up!

Maria2007 Mon 26-Oct-09 21:03:31

4-5 books a week?? shock Respect to you.

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