Monthly Book Club Tips
The following represent monthly tips that we have shared with book groups over the years. Peruse them for ideas of what you can do each month to liven up your meetings.
Have each member of the group make a yearlong reading resolution. This can be something like vowing to read new authors or explore a new genre. Write these down and re-visit them in December to see how many have been kept!
Empower yourself for the new year by reading a biography of someone you admire and then share something you never knew about that person with your group.
Share your favorite title about self-improvement with members of your group.
Each month, have each member bring a book that he or she has read beyond the group's book club selection. Tell other club members about it in a couple of lines. Once you go around the room sharing your selections, think how many books you will have learned about.
In honor of Black History Month, share lists of titles from some of your favorite African-American authors.
Since winter can be cold and blustery in so much of the country, think about reading a title set in a warm place or with a summer theme to think about warmer, carefree summer days.
No matter how you feel about it, Valentine's Day invades our world in February. With that in mind we have collected five titles with "Red" in their titles and five titles with "Love" in their titles that you might want to explore.
The Red and the Black by Stendhal
The Red Hat Club by Haywood Smith
The Red of His Shadow by Mayra Montero
Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
All About Love by Bell Hooks
Enduring Love by Ian McEwan
LOVE by Toni Morrison
Love Invents Us by Amy Bloom
The Love of a Good Woman by Alice Munro
In honor of Valentine's Day, think about donating a book to a charity in your group's name. Think about a local adult or children's charity where this might be well appreciated.
As this is Women's History Month, think about reading a biography that celebrates a famous female.
Write a list of books that have meant something to you as a woman and share it with your fellow book club members.
In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, think about reading something from an Irish author or something about Irish history.
Take a blank book and fill in the pages with some of your group's favorite recipes from your meetings. It will be another way of charting your group's "history."
April is National Poetry Month. Share thoughts about your favorite poets and the poems that have inspired you.
In honor of National Library Week, stop by your local library and ask what resources they have available for book clubs.
Read something that makes you think of spring, like the novel Tulip Fever or the nonfiction book Chasing Spring: An American Journey Through a Changing Season.
Think about bringing a bouquet of flowers or a small plant to exchange with other group members at your meeting to spread spring around. Or a flowery-themed bookmark.
Plan a mother-daughter book club title for May. What better way to encourage a lifelong love of reading in a child?
Read a book where the relationships between mothers and daughters are a theme. We suggest Things I Want My Daughters to Know by Elizabeth Noble, The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs and The Rest of Her Life by Laura Moriarty.
Write your daughter, mother or another important woman in your life a list of favorite books. Compare these lists with those of other people in your book club.
Consider inviting your daughter or mother to read a book with you --- and discuss it!
This tip comes from Laura Peurach of Madison Heights, Michigan: "For my book club known as "Table Talk" I created bookmarks that list the titles we've chosen for the year. There's so much room for creativity and they make a wonderful little gift!
To celebrate summer and summer reading, think about having a "summer book exchange" where you each brings a favorite summer beach read for a grab bag. Each member goes home with a new book to read! Perhaps you may want to include a line or two about why you liked the book.
Think about starting a book club with a child, including your own son or daughter, a niece or nephew or a grandson or granddaughter. We have ideas on how to do this at Kidsreads.com and Teenreads.com.
June is all about grads and dads. It's a great time to read a memoir and see how someone else may reflect on their achievements and milestones.
With graduation time approaching, think about the books that changed your life. Consider one of them for your group's discussion.
Talk about the books that you would want to share with a new graduate.
If your group is not meeting this summer, select a title that you all read and then email each other your comments about it. It will be a nice way to keep up with group reading even though you are not getting together.
July is the anniversary of the founding of our nation. For those of you who want to delve into something more serious than a beach read, may we suggest American historical fiction? Perhaps 1776, John Adams or one of the other works of David McCullough might fit the bill.
Think about selecting a travel book for your discussion.
On vacation this month and not meeting with your group? Think about organizing an informal book club at the beach, lake or pool, or wherever else you travel. Ask a couple of people to read the same book and then discuss it. It may give friends who have never been in a club before a reason to give one a try. We call it "the one-book book club."
As you are traveling, stop by local booksellers in the towns that you are visiting and ask them what books the groups in their towns are enjoying for their book club discussions. This way you can gauge how other groups might be similar to yours or find new titles to explore.
Many book club titles are popularized by independent booksellers. For hints on books that your group may want to read, take a look at the IndieBound.org website for both the IndieBound bestseller list, which charts books that currently are bestsellers at the independent bookstores, as well as their list of upcoming books to watch on their Indie Next list.
Spend a lazy August afternoon or evening shopping at your local bookstore with your book group, making it an outing to share the books you have loved and time to discover some new ones.
Discuss a book that takes place at a destination that you might like to visit.
Read a collection of short stories.
Think about holding this month's meeting outside, and think about a title on the lighter side to take advantage of the lazy days of summer.
Bring a list of all the titles you read this summer with annotations next to them and share this list with members of your group.
September means back to school. How about exploring a classic this month? Go for something "readable" like Edith Wharton's The House of Mirth, Leo Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilyich, Charles Dickens's Great Expectations or Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises.
Why not pick up a title you read in high school or college and revisit it with your group?
Start a blog for your group where you can share your thoughts on books and your club’s book discussions.
Read a book by a local author and invite them to join your discussion.
October is National Reading Group Month. To celebrate, have your group look for local events that may be scheduled at your local bookseller or library.
With the spirit of "trick or treat" in mind, each bring a book to your meeting that you want to pass along. Have a grab bag where each person picks one. For the recipient, may it always be a treat.
In the spirit of Halloween, dress up as your favorite character from a book for your October meeting. If this sounds like too much work, instead think about describing a character and having other group members guess who you are talking about.
Celebrate Halloween like you are a kid again by talking about your favorite all-time scary books as part of your meeting.
Have each person in your group keep a Reading Diary for the month and share it at your meeting. It's a great way to learn about titles you are enjoying outside what you are reading with your group.
Think about donating books to a holiday charity. Start researching where you are going to donate NOW!
With the holidays coming, books are going to make perfect gifts. Need help in trying to decide who to give what book to? Think about enlisting your book group for advice! There you have a captive group of readers for suggestions. Each bring a list of those you want to get gifts for --- and suggest away.
Think about donating some of your favorite titles to less fortunate readers via a local book drive or library sale.
Collect books to donate to a women's shelter. Think about great picture books for children and books that women may enjoy escaping with.
Volunteer at a soup kitchen, food collection bank or shelter with your book group this month. Check to see if they accept book donations, and bring along some titles you think their guests might enjoy.
Think about bringing the fixings for a holiday meal to your next meeting so they can be donated to a local charity or food bank. Also, think about bringing a favorite holiday recipe to share with your group members. If your recipe came from a cookbook, remember to share the title of the book!
Go around the group and discuss your favorite holiday title and why it has meaning for you. If possible, bring a copy of the book to share with your fellow group members.
Surprise someone outside your book club with a gift of a book that you and your group read over the past year and really loved.
Think about having members bring a book to donate to a children's charity this month, or making a group donation to an organization like First Book or Reach Out and Read. Also, this time of year everyone is stumped on gift giving ideas for at least one person on their gift list. Suggest ideas for books to give as presents. Whether it's an extra stocking stuffer or something that will be perfect for your recipient's interest, why not have some input from real booklovers?
Think about sharing your “Best of” book lists with each other. Print them on pretty paper and pass around.
If your group doesn't meet in December, but you'd still like to read and discuss a book, form a temporary two-person book club with a fellow member, friend, relative or co-worker.
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