Back in August, my closest friend at work approached me with the idea of starting a book club – I obviously loved the idea.
If you like reading or want to get back into reading; joining a book club has so many benefits! It’s a way to build a community, step out of your comfort zone, be more social, network with like-minded women and of course, the mental stimulation from reading.
I had two primary reasons for joining: expanding my community & simply reading more to lower my stress. At 27 years old, it’s fun to meet women in Manhattan who come from different walks of life. And now we sit around monthly & bond over a single storyline, wine & delicious snacks. These days, I really look forward to diving into a new book, knowing I am going to have valuable conversations about it.
HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO GET YOU STARTED:
Hold Members Accountable!
I’ve been guilty (many times) of reading half of a book & then stopping. At the end of each book club I would recommend encouraging everyone to make it to the end goal & complete the book.
Set some Expectations
It’s always good to be transparent & although a book club is so fun it does come with some accountability. I would just let new potential members know how they’re expected to contribute, so they’re getting an honest look into the group before signing up. Some examples would be that they’re expected to host, bring a snack, & complete the book.
Create a Facebook Group/Google Doc/Email Chain for easy communication
We have a Facebook group where we always post the next month’s book, the address of the member that is hosting & sometimes use it as a spot to RSVP (just to make sure at least a handful of people can join). It’s a great reference so you don’t need to annoy each other offline for information you may have lost/forgot!
If possible, I think it’s a good idea to rotate locations just to mix up the environment & use it as a way to get to know the book club members a little better. For example, each month a different member can choose where to host. It doesn’t even need to be in their home, it can be their favorite restaurant, a park, or even a cool café – the possibilities are endless. This is something I would probably do since my NYC apartment is so teeny-tiny.
Lookup Conversation Prompts
Use Google to search some book club prompts or specific questions about the book. Some we have used are “what would you have done if you were in [characters] situation?”, “who was your favorite character?”, “did you think of an alternate ending?”
Use “I” Statements
Use “I” statements when stating your opinion about the book, a character, plot line, etc. This will effectively communicate to the group that these are your own personal feelings & should not trigger any conflicts, instead may bring up an interesting discussion.
RECOMMENDED BITES & LIBATIONS:
My bookclub always fall on Wednesdays at 7pm, so by that time we’re all tired & hungry. My biggest recommendation when grabbing some snacks, whether you’re hosting or just attending is make it as easy & casual as possible. Book clubs aren’t supposed to cause stress! Go for easy, simple, quick, one-bite deliciousness & as non-messy as possible.
BYOD: Bring your own drink! Everyone has different preferences & the host should not have all of the responsibly to buy everyone’s favorites. I recommend everyone bring their favorite & to share with the group.
Wine: I recommend going for an inexpensive option, like $10-12 bottle. I feel like everyone likes a Chardonnay & for red I always like Malbec.
Non- Alcoholic: I always like having La Crox or seltzer in my fridge. Even if no one drinks it, I know I’ll have it later!
Make Your Own: No one will change my opinion that Emily Schuman makes the most gorgeous charcuterie board. She even thinks about the nitty-gritty details like how to make it feel inviting to guests rather than something that’s ‘too pretty to touch’. Thank goodness she finally created a step-by-step tutorial on “How to Build an Impressive Cheese Plate” on her blog Cupcakes & Cashmere. She also has a Instagram TV post all about it.
Purchase & Plate: Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Coscto & various grocery stores now have ready-to-serve charcuterie board party trays. No shame here! If this feels more your vibe, pick one up & the day of slide it all on a serving plate!
Something Warm & More Filling
Since our book club is in the evening, whatever is served is basically dinner. I recommend picking up some inexpensive, frozen, single-bite more filling options. Some of my favorites are from Trader Joes are the individual Mushroom Turnovers, Veggie Potstickers, Mini Quiche & Spring Rolls.
I recommend having a vegetable plate with some hummus or a dairy-free/vegan dip for anyone with eating sensitivities.
This isn’t a 5-course meal, there’s no need to go out & get fancy desserts. I recommend leaving a sweet treat out during the whole duration of the night. Some recommendations are: Ferrero Rochers, Strawberries or Chocolate Chip Cookies.
BOOK CLUB READS (so far):
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert (read August 2019) – About 19-year old Vivian Morris moving to Manhattan in 1940 with her theater-owning aunt. Vivian soon finds herself befriended by an eccentric group and soon discovers the night life of 1940s New York City. I loved the historical fiction part of this book & insight to the women of New York at the time was inspiring and entertaining. My only cons were it was a pretty long book (+500 pages) and a little slow in spots.
The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda (read September 2019) – This is a thriller focusing on Avery. We follow her as she tries to piece together the circumstances surrounding her best friend’s death. I thought it started out a little slow, but couldn’t stop reading towards the end.
Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid (read October 2019) – My absolutely favorite book & I cannot wait for the Amazon special Reese Witherspoon is producing. It’s written in interview style & tells the story of a band’s rise and fall during the 70s. Sadly, it’s fiction. I’m only saying it’s sad because it seems SO realistic & I kept wanted to go on a Google deep dive of each band member.