When I first moved to Los Angeles, I was fortunate enough to inherit a wonderful group of friends through my now-husband, making the transition into what can sometimes feel like the loneliest city on the planet a lot easier. Even better: The women of this group had just formed a book club—and they let me join! I don't know about you, but as an adult, I felt like my life was missing something as refined and grown-up as a book club, where I imagined gatherings would feel like the best Frasier re-runs and I would engage in inspired literary chit-chat with a glass of sherry in one hand and a hardcover in the other. The truth is not too far off (although I wish I had the banter of Niles Crane). Our book club is more than five-years strong now, and I like to think we have picked up what I think are helpful tips for forming, hosting and keeping a book club going. Here are my top tips for keeping a book club going:
Maybe this is why I was welcomed so easily into our book club—the more members, the better (our numbers have stayed around 12). Sure, you may want to have a cap so meetings don't become lectures, but having a large group of friends in your club means that when life gets in the way and someone has to bail last-minute (it happens; I have been that person more than once) there will still be a solid group to discuss and dissect the book.
This is a simple recommendation: Be open to read whatever comes your way! We have read contemporary fiction, the classics, non-fiction, books that defy all categories and more than one Oprah-recommended novel (there are a lot of them). Aside from the obvious benefit of adding books to your repertoire that you may usually pass by, reading anything and everything ensures each gathering will be unique and that the conversations and questions never get stale. I am still hoping to add a graphic novel to the mix, maybe next time I host!
This is the fun part: hosting! Since we have so many women in our group, we each take turns entertaining, with the added bonus that the host gets to pick the next book. Simple and straightforward! We all contribute to the evening's refreshments (we usually plan our meetings around eating a meal because we're sensible people)—and chip in if that meal includes ordering out. I sometimes like to run with a theme (like when we read Crazy Rich Asians and I baked questions about the novel into homemade fortune cookies—they tasted bland, but my questions were inspired), but that's just me. Making hosting as easy and stress-free as possible has been easier for everyone, and means more time for gossip and important discussions about the novel.
This is the only rule in Book Club (no, I am not going to make a Fight Club joke—but it's taking a lot of restraint): Give everyone a chance to talk about the book. When it comes time to actually discuss the book at hand, having some questions prepared or someone to lead the conversation can help make sure everyone gets a chance to contribute and voice how much they loved, hated or just tolerated the book.
It feels wrong to have a "don't" in my list of "dos", but this is what I think is key to club longevity: Don't stick too closely to a schedule when organizing your meet-ups. It may seem reasonable to feel like to you have to meet at exact intervals (whether that's monthly, every-other-month, whatever) but we've found that using those intervals as only a very loose guide works best. We tend to meet about every 2 to 3 months, give or take, and don't worry too much if things get pushed out or in depending on personal schedules.
I love the women in my book club and have laughed harder in some of our refined, fire-side literary chats than I ever had in my life (maybe we are as reliable as Frasier re-runs). These are just the tips I have picked up, but please let me know if you have any of your own! We're always open to improvement and book recommendations.
Recent Book Club Picks: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead, The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn, Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, The Sacred Enneagram by Christopher Heuertz, The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang, Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan, Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid