When I was growing up, whenever anyone would ask me what I wanted for Christmas or for my birthday, I would say “DVD’s!” Well with my 25th birthday just passed, I am happy to say that I have grown up enough to now ask for books for my birthday instead (And thanks Nicole and Ben for reading my extensive Goodreads and Book Depository wish list and getting me some amazing tomes!). In fact, I’ve been so into reading lately (and so void of money to constantly buy more) I decided it would be an excellent idea to invite some of my girls around, drink some wine and eat some delicious food and swap our favourite stories – in short – start a book club!
Now I have always been a fan of the kind of ideas that are conjured up when you think of all the women of the 1950’s coming together and having a good gossip, a game of bridge and a tupperware party. Think The Help and The Astronaut Wives Club. I was keen to recreate a similar feel, but with a more powerful feminine kick to it, and a great chance to split up the humdrum of a working week with some good girl time. Ultimately, it’s the perfect excuse for throwing a get together, and a great way to expand your horizons when it comes to what you read.
If you are keen to start a book club of your own, there are a few things you need to think about when putting it together:
Photo by Julochka
What will your book club be all about?
I was adamant from the start that this book club would be a casual gathering – something that happened in jeans instead of the classic 1950’s pinafore, and something that would take place once a month so that we all had enough time to read the books we wanted. You don’t want your meetings to be so far apart that everyone forgets all about it, but you don’t want to host it every week so that the slower readers wouldn’t have a chance to keep up. Before you pick your time, date and location though, think about what you want the atmosphere to be. There are three types of book clubs to choose from:
The social club – This is generally a book club where there isn’t actually much talking about the book or even reading the book is done. This is all about getting together over a glass of wine or a club of tea and then having a good gasbag about what everyone is up to. This kind of group is good for making new friends and is excellent at unwinding away from home.
The serious club – This is all about the book. This book club is great for people who may not know everyone and only want to talk about the book at hand – which is usually only one set book. This kind of group is perfect for people who want to drink in all things literary and expand their tastes, as well as ideas.
The half club – This club is what I was keen in making our book club be, which was where we all get a chance to be social and catch up, and then spend a good chunk of time discussing the books. It’s evenly split down the middle regarding time, and it means that everyone gets a chance to be comfortable. It also means we can learn how to play bridge as well!
Once you have determined what type of book club you want to have, and what the purpose is behind it (even just wanting to see your friends is a good purpose!) you can decide on the time, date and location. Set up a page on social media like an event on Facebook and invite all of the girls – this will keep all of your information in one place.
Who do you want to come to your book club?
Inviting your friends is a great way to see them more – especially when everyone has busy schedules – but having your friends invite friends of their own might be a great way to broaden your social network, and get a chance to make new friends. Start with friends who you know and trust and build yourself out from there. And don’t worry if they have different ideologies, standards or views of opinion on social, political or moral standings – embrace them! Being able to chat to your girls and have a thoughtful and meaningful discussion is a great way to become more thoughtful readers and expand your views and ideas.
What are you going to read?
Setting a standard is a great way to keep your book club running smoothly and give everyone a great talking point. You can set a particular rule depending on your group and the ideas of your book club, such as indicating everyone should read fiction or non-fiction, romance or sci-fi, bibliographies or erotica, short stories and poems or long stories as well. You can also decide whether everyone wants to read the same book and if they should each read the same set chapters so that you can all discuss the books in detail at each meeting, or do what we did and have everyone bring what books they like and have read recently and discuss why they brought the book to the meeting. You can then open your books to a swap if someone else is interested in reading the same novel, so that everyone doesn’t have to all go out and buy the same thing.
There are heaps of different reading lists available as well, if you want to stick to something in particular. You can try:
- Amazon’s 100 Books to Read in a Lifetime
- The New York Times 100 Most Notable Books of the Year
- Dymock’s Top 100 List
Don’t forget that with the addition of eBooks, you have so much ground you can cover and such easy access to everything you want to read and more!
Make it a little special!
Entertaining is a great excuse to decorate and show off some of your favourite things, and you can bet that in the 1950’s all those housewives made sure that their homes were in tip top condition before the others came in for their meetings! Since book clubs are generally more of a casual meeting, you definitely don’t need to go overboard – but it’s always nice to add something a little special. Create a wonderful centre piece in the middle of the table that you ladies are all going to be sitting around using flowers, books or other rustic study style decorations.
For our first book club meeting, I went with a garden party style element and used one of the zesty green table runners we actually had at our wedding as the table decoration. Then I added a few simple decoration elements that brought in a garden-y feel, such as a bottled terrarium in a glass jar, a lime and coconut scented candle, and a tea light candle in an industrial style jar. I added a few books to the equation, as well as a few pieces of eclectic floral bunting to give it a tea party feel. It was super simple, but very effective.
Don’t forget to sever up some delicious snacks while you are at it! To give you an idea of what I served at our first book club meeting, I put together some Rosemary Brie with Candied Walnuts and some Kale Chips to accompany the wine that was served. It was delicious, and went down a treat!
You there you have it – our first ever book club meeting! Let me know if you decide to start your own book club, and how you go about putting that together yourself by leaving a comment in the description. Stay tuned for some future book club meetings as well in the meantime.