10 Ways to Spice Up Your Book Club Meetings

Are you doing everything you can to keep your book club meetings fun and interesting? Do your members look forward to each meeting with great anticipation, or is attendance lagging? Is your book club becoming more of a chore than a joy? Check out my suggestions to help put the spark back into your meetings.

1. Feed them and they will come! Our book club always enjoys good food together, typically pot luck. We meet in each other’s homes so it’s easy to bring a dish. Some books lend themselves to a food theme, which is fun and adds to the experience (for instance, Chinese food for Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Italian for Eat, Pray, Love). The format we like best is to eat and socialize first, talk books in the middle, then end with dessert. Even if the book is a dud, there is always chocolate!

2. Liquor them up and they will talk & laugh! In the past year, we’ve had only one meeting without wine (at a coffee house). The conversation did NOT flow. ‘Nuff said.

3. Give stuff away. I sign up for tons of contests and giveaways online and receive several free books each month from publishers, authors, other bloggers. I arrive at book club meetings loaded down with books to share, and they are much appreciated! We also pass along books we’ve read and enjoyed throughout the month.

4. Celebrate! Do a book exchange and talk about your favorite books of the previous year for an anniversary party. Distribute a member list with general info about each member, including their birthdays. Make a point to remember each of them with cards. Have a BBQ and invite spouses to read along one month (it could become an annual summer event). Make a club donation to the local library or put together a book basket for a daycare center at the holidays.

5. Consider a book that has been (or will be) made into a movie. Our group saw The Other Boleyn Girl together, and a couple of us went to see Into the Wild, The Kite Runner, and The Jane Austen Book Club. We just learned that Eat, Pray, Love will be made into a movie starring Julia Roberts. Seeing a movie together after reading the book can be great fun.

6. Don’t get into a rut with book selections. Suggest books that are slightly out of your comfort zone. Do your homework when it’s your turn to choose and look for books that are sure to spark conversation. Try different genres- fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, classics, historical fiction. There are so many to choose from. Use websites like bookmovement.com and readinggroupguides.com to get ideas. If every book you read is about women’s issues or if you only read chick lit, it won’t be long before your meetings are a snorefest. Branch out.

7. Diversity is good! Look around at your meetings. Are all your members about the same as far as age, gender, race, religion, socio-economic status, marital status? If so, you might want to invite a few more people who aren’t EXACTLY LIKE YOU! One of the best reasons to be in a book club is to get a different perspective on a shared reading experience.

8. Author chats are awesome.. and surprisingly easy to arrange. These chats can be the highlight of your book club year, adding depth and understanding to your club’s selections. And it’s fun-don’t be intimidated! Authors enjoy discussing their books and many are willing to attend book club meetings by speakerphone. Most have websites with contact info. Send an email and see what happens. Random House has a website full of information and authors who enjoy participating in author chats.

9. Discussion Questions are helpful.. but sometimes the best discussions morph from a single question-Which part of the book did you like most (or least) and why?

10. Try something new. Ask members to read their favorite passages aloud. Or speculate on a better ending to the book. Or “cast the movie”. Or critique the cover. Read a bit of dialogue and ask members to guess which character said it. I like to have fun, but I do have to draw the line at dressing up like the characters from a book. Nope. Not doing it. Although maybe other clubs are adventurous in that way. The point is..be creative, but most of all, have fun!

Don’t have a book club yet (what!!??)? Here are some ideas on how to get started: Be Trendy-Start a Book Club!

26 Responses

  1. Love your list! Even for the solitary reader. I think our group give a few things a whirl: critique the cover, cast the movie and maybe think about not a different ending, but what a sequel would entail.

  2. I liked the graphics with your list.

  3. Thanks for this! I actually just started a book club with some friends, and none of us have ever done this before, but somehow I ended up the official ‘leader,’ so I’m a little nervous. Great ideas!

  4. I love this my book club friends really need to read it!!! Would you mind if I cut an pasted it to my book club page? I would definitely link to you…but if no that is fine too.

  5. Re: Naughty Neighbor – it wasn’t done! I accidentally published it before it was done, and then had to go back and unpublish it, and hope that no one had read the half-a-post. Don’t worry, the rest will be up tomorrow, and there’s plenty more doinking. Consider it a sneak peak.

  6. Fantastic! We’re just starting a book club at work so these ideas will really help us out.

  7. These are awesome ideas! Shh . . . I’m going to pass on some of these ideas to our group leader to spice things up a bit. We need some spicing up.

  8. I wish you lived closer! You would totally fit in with my book club!

  9. Excellent post filled with good ideas. Thanks! I’m thinking if my book club had tried some of them, we would’ve have disbanded! I’m keeping these in mind for the next one. 🙂

  10. Great advice (as usual)!

  11. Great tips. Thanks for sharing

  12. What a great post- it’s definitely going in my bookmarks. I’m trying to get a book club started in my neighborhood & there are tons of great tips here! Thanks!

  13. Lisa what a great blog you have. I wanted to stop by and thank-you for visiting mine. =)
    I’ve enjoyed reading all the stuff you have here.

  14. These are great suggestions! Do you have one for how to get members to read the book? We never have a shortage of members at book club (thanks to the ever-flowing wine and conversation) but there are usually only two or three of us who have read the book, which means we spend about 2.5 seconds talking about the book….

  15. this was such a great post. I love my book club and I know we could utilize some of these tips. I’m a little worried because we’re meeting at a coffee house Friday night and I don’t think there’s alcohol there (tee hee).

  16. Thanks for the great tips! I’ve been running my book club for almost three years now but I’m always on the lookout for new ideas. I’ve tried the giveaway thing , but haven’t had much luck getting items to give away – do you have any suggestions? Thanks in advance!!!

    – Heather

  17. These are some great suggests. I’m glad to see that my newly formed group follows most of these all ready. Our’s is a book and movie group. We only read books that have a movie version. We set up a movie night, usually on a friday, then we discuss the book and movie on the following monday. Tonight we are having a wedding theme to go with Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

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  21. Ooh, I was happy to see that my group does most of these things already. We aren’t so hot on the diversity, however. But though we may seem very similar on the outside, each member brings a unique perspective, and it’s always interesting to hear what everyone has to say. Thanks for this post!

  22. Thanks for more great ideas!

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