“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.” – Henry David Thoreau
A few years ago, I started a book club with a small, special group of family and friends. We all love to read and we love each other’s company. Those are two necessary ingredients for a great book group. Amidst this cold winter weather, I so enjoy curling up with a book and a hot cup of tea. Talking and discussing books with others truly adds to the reading experience, extends your own thinking about the book, and makes you ponder the chosen book—and sometimes life in general—in new ways.
If you love reading and want to, as I did, use books to bring people together, here are some tips for starting and sustaining book club:
1) Find people who enjoy each other and love to read.
2) Be a democracy. If one person chooses all the books, it could begin to feel like a teacher assigning homework. In my club, all of us suggest titles and then we vote on what we want to read next.
3) Eat good food. Thoughtful discussion requires plenty of nourishment. If everyone contributes something to the meal (dessert, a salad, an appetizer, drinks, etc.) no one is over-burdened.
4) Let discussion questions guide you. A group of friends or family can easily get distracted and never actually discuss the book. To avoid this, we each come with questions we want to ask others about the book. When the questions are gone, we have plenty of unstructured time.
5) Choose great books. That’s easier said than done. There are so many choices out there. Numerous websites like www.bookclubclassics.com and www.readinggroupchoices.com provide title suggestions for book groups. For a complete list of Oprah’s Book Club titles, visit www.oprah.com.
6) Read old books, too. Bookstores seem to push the brand-new titles still in hardback. But you can save a lot of money by reading classics and non-new titles available in libraries.
By the way, our group is currently reading the Autobiography of Mark Twain (Volume 1). It is very long but fascinating for those interested in the life and ideas of a great American writer. My favorite book that we read last year was The Help,by Kathryn Stockett—a lovely novel from a fresh, new voice.