Starting a Book Club!

Monday, January 23, 2017

By popular request (ahem one request, ha, Lauren), here's an outline of how we started our book club (in late 2015).

1. First, I read this post from Everyday Reading and got very inspired by the spirit of the thing. I wanted to be part of a hard-core, book-loving (nerdy...but cool?) group of women who met to discuss books. That inspired Leanne and I to brainstorm names, and we came up with "Read It Or Leaf Book Club" or, RLBC for short.

2. Second, the members. 12 was our goal. Leanne is a particular kind of friend to me, in that we are close friends but we do not run in the same social circles (I dunno?), so this was the perfect exercise. We each invited 3 friends to join, and 2 of the 3 were asked to invite two people themselves, which would equal 12, but a 12 where the most people anyone knew would (theoretically) number 4. Over the months, we have sort of solidified into a strong group of 10 (with some additions and subtractions), but I do want to emphasize how fun and amazing it's been to be part of a group (especially something so fun as a book club) in which I've gotten to meet new people at this stage of life.

3. We use signupgenius.com for our annual calendar. While we were getting organized, one of our members told me that her mom was in a really longstanding book club, and they'd determined the secret to how often to meet was 7 weeks—it neither feels too long or too short. So, I came up with a calendar in advance (via signupgenius), and chose dates in advance (avoiding things like spring break, Easter, and the entire month of December), every 6-7 weeks roughly. This ends up being 9 meetings a year, which is perfect because when we signed up for this school year (oh, and I do a school year calendar), it was 9 meetings for the year—so everyone got to sign up for one of everything. All meetings were solidified as 7:30-9:00 PM on Tuesday nights.

4. The categories for signing up are (and every category just once per year, remember!):
a) Hosting (the host is ONLY responsible for hosting, and maybe coffee if she so desires)
b) Choosing the book
c) Moderating the discussion
d) Bringing a dessert
e) Bringing a savory snack
(Beverages are BYO)

5) Dive in and go for it/get to know each other and read! We wore name tags, unashamedly, for the first couple of meetings and it helped everyone get comfortable! It's interesting to see that be happenstance, we have a lot of educators in our group (not on purpose! and not me, ha).

6) At the one year anniv. of our first meeting (or, it was the last meeting of our first year's calendar, if that makes sense), I did a superlatives voting ballot which was really fun. I think the categories were: Favorite Book, Least Favorite Book, Book you loved and didn't expect to like, Book you thought about most afterward, Most well-written (in your opinion), and Best Non-Book Club Book of the Year. I printed these off and we filled them out at the end of our "meeting" and then read through them, and I emailed out the results for posterity's sake. (I am, really and truly, a dork.)

Go forth! Finding a book club will be one of my first assignments for myself when we move to Idaho (yes, that's another post altogether!).

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