June 26, 2022

10 ways to make book clubs fun and not intense because we’re all already busy

Starting or joining a book club is initially exciting. You meet new people, read new books, talk about stories and authors for hours. How could things go wrong? Unfortunately, setting rules and choosing books that everyone may not agree on can make things stressful. There are also deadlines for completing books and organizing events. Book clubs can be intense, but they don’t have to be.

Book clubs are about exploring new books as a group and asking interesting questions. It’s about listening to different points of view and how each interprets metaphors or themes. After getting a writing degree, my classes felt like I was in four or five different book clubs at once, and I loved it. Now that I’m in the adult world, I’ve been looking for ways to make book clubs less static and academic, more fun and easy going.

If you’re also looking for fun ways to make your book club an enjoyable time for everyone, you’re in luck! Be sure to spend time getting to know everyone in your group, don’t be afraid to change your initial rules and routines, and follow these 10 steps:

1. Spend your first day getting to know everyone and coming up with a club name

Even if you already have an established book club, it’s never too late to talk to everyone and get to know them outside of the book club. Cheesy icebreakers like sharing favorite ice cream flavors is one way, but you can also get to know your group by asking questions like what their favorite childhood book was and who inspires them the most. It also makes a book club 10 times more fun when you have a silly group name. Be creative and don’t let any ideas get lost in the process!

2. Keep book choices under 300 pages

Rules are meant to be broken, of course, so that doesn’t always have to be the case. However, keeping books on a smaller scale eliminates the stress of having to finish a massive book in a matter of weeks. It will also help narrow down book choices, because after being at a few book clubs, choosing a book always seems to be the hardest part.

3. Celebrate after finishing a book

Getting together to discuss a book is exciting, but if you celebrate it like you would a birthday or a holiday, it just makes it even more fun! Make it a potluck and ask everyone to bring something (simple) to eat. You can even make it a theme around the book you’re reading. If the book has a movie adaptation, have a movie night with popcorn and watch it together.

4. Change your meeting places

Getting together at home is easy for some groups, but switching places — a cafe, a library, a big bookstore, or even a park on a nice day — can be the difference between a strict and laid-back book club. Open up the idea to your club and see what other places you can think of to meet.

5. Use an online calendar

Technology comes in handy with book clubs. Create a Google calendar where everyone can put their schedule and you can find a day that works for everyone to meet. If something comes up, it’s easy to put a note and say why you won’t be able to attend. If you want, you can also include your thoughts on the book so you’re always part of the conversation.

6. Open a book chat with a game

Bring out the board games! Scrabble, Scattegories, Banangrams, Apples to Apples, anything that screams fun! Sure, that might sound a bit silly and offbeat, but it will make the atmosphere more open and easier to work with when discussing a difficult or controversial book.

7. Choose local authors and recently published books

At least a few times a year, try to choose a local author or recently published book for your book club. With a local author, you’re much more likely to reach out and include them in your book club meeting. Likewise, with newly released books, you and your book club could plan a book tour that’s coming to your town. It’s a chance to have fun, meet an author, and ask questions outside of your regular meetings.

8. Divide into small groups

This helps large book clubs with more than 15 people. Even if your book club is smaller, it still helps people who tend to be quieter and whose comments, questions, and thoughts get lost in conversation. Small groups can be a bit like high school, but by having everyone team up, it allows everyone to share their thoughts and come together and provide equal time for everyone.

9. Diversify your book choices

Take a look at the last three novels read by your book club and see if there are any similarities. Were they all written by white authors? Has your group ever read a translated book? Have you explored other genres? Break out of your traditions and explore a new book together. It may be weird and not work, or it may inspire you to explore other authors, genres, and topics!

10. Include Alcohol

When all else fails, alcohol can always make a book club more fun than intense. Get out a few bottles and don’t forget to have fun!

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