Wednesday 29 September 2010

Reading Groups - A Matter of Mind Picking.

I am hoping for a little help from you guys today as I have been a very brave girl and stepped into the world of reading groups and decided to set up my own one. I have put the feelers out to my local friends and they have all jumped aboard The Dacosta Book Wagon in anticipation. The invitations for first meeting have been sent out for Thursday 7th October and I hope to be able to organise the back bone of the groups future by then.

What I am hoping for from my lovely book bloggers is some hints and tips on how to run a meeting like this.If you don't actually attend one, then I would be interested in  hearing how you would you run one. Every one's opinions are valuable and will be taken into account.

So here are a few questions that I would like answered if possible, though I don't expect everyone to answer them all.
Where do you hold your book groups?
Do you change the location regularly?
How often do you meet?
How do you begin discussing books?
Does someone summarize the book first and then do you all get a say about what you think?
Who decides which books you read?
Who hosts the meeting?
Do you look outside of your usual genres?

As you can see, I am a real beginner in this unknown territory, so as much advice as possible please.
Thank you in advance for all your words of wisdom.


  1. Hiya

    The one group I did go to was a work one - once a month, at lunch, in a free meeting room.

    We worked out a rota in the first get together and then the general pattern was sit down, eat lunch and talk about the book. The host usually started with "well what did you think about ...." and the discussion started from there.

    The person who was to host the next session brought a list of 3 books - with a little blurb about each one and then we voted (using anonymous paper slips)on which book to read. Which ever got most votes, we read for the following month.

    It worked really well - and we went for all genres - autobiographies, sci-fi, young adult, murder mystery - the works!

    Hope that's a bit useful :-)

  2. Good luck! I've just taken over an online one, which looks a little easier than organising one where people actually meet!

  3. Oh - I admire you for starting your own book group, and I envy you that you will have such a great literary time with friends.

    I have tried to start one a couple of times, but my friends are either over-committed in other activities, or they just don't have an interest in reading.

    I have no tips for you - but look forward to hearing all about the first meeting.

  4. Well done you, I wish I lived close enough that I could attend.

    I've been attending a reading group for almost 3 years now. Organised by our local library, who pick and supply the books we read, we meet in the library the first Tuesday of every month.

    My tip would be to make sure that everyone is given the chance to have their say as in my opinion certain individuals can (and will) dominate if given half a chance.

    Good luck and do keep us informed.

  5. I lead a book club and also am part of several others, so I'll just answer you with whatever I know.

    All the groups I lead or am part of take place at the library. When I was forming my group, we wanted to find a location w/o kids around (we all had young kids) so we went to the library and they told us as long as we opened it to the public, we could hold it there for free. All the groups meet monthly on a regular day/time. Most of the groups have a little bit of chat leading up to the hour, and then the moderator will say "so what did you think" or in some way start a discussion on the book.

    I don't think anyone ever summarizes the books, unless it's just me and one other person and one of us didn't read it, or something like that. Mostly we just try to open the group up for a conversation, rather than taking turns. I say, "What did you guys think", and then people just pipe up as they see fit, and the conversation goes from there. I try to have some ideas for discussion in my head before I go, in case the conversation lags or needs direction, but otherwise, the group takes care of itself.

    In my group, I let everyone put in suggestions and I pull a year's reading list from that. In the groups I belong to, the moderator just picks the books for us. I prefer having the members have some feedback so everyone can get their books represented. All of the groups have a single host/moderator, though from time to time, when I can't make the group or really don't want to read the book, I"ll pick someone else to moderate (usually the person who really wanted to read that particular book). We are always trying to expand what we read, though we don't, for instance, look at contemp fiction in my classics group.

    The last things I do to try to help keep my group running smoothly is end at a specific time instead of haphazardly, and making people tread very carefully around religion and politics, because we have very, very different points of view on those things in our group! I don't want anyone to be offended.

    Hope all that helps! You can certainly email me with any more questions. I've been running my group for 4 years this December and I love it!!

  6. I'd love to be in a local book group, but just never find the free time it seems. Sorry I can't give you any feedback!

  7. Good luck with your book group! I don't have a local one, but I do have a group of friends meeting at my house next month and I'm hoping we'll form one.

  8. I think we call them book clubs here. I am not a member of any. (I was once recruited for a mother-daughter book club, but could not participate due to an overly busy schedule.) So I cannot be of much help to you, Vivienne!

  9. I'm in the process of starting a book club too, so I'm very interested in the feedback you're getting! In my case, two of my friends decided they wanted to start the book club and I invited myself to join. At the moment, we've sorta recruited two other people (who may or may not be really interested), and two books have been picked (by the first two people), but we haven't set any other parameters (like where to meet or when or how this group will work). I think having a single moderator probably makes a lot of sense, although I'm hoping that role will rotate in my book club. Anyway, good luck with yours and let us know how it goes!

  10. really helps and you can enter contests to win for the entire group too.

  11. Good luck Viv! It sounds like fun. I'm not a member of any book club myself, so I really can't give any help. But I'd imagine members get to host the meetings, taking turns.

  12. That is so exciting! I've thought about doing that too because I haven't heard of a book club in my small town (I'm sure there might be some that I don't know about though). The main reason I haven't is because I belong to a book club that was started by a book blogger (Dreadlock Girl) who lives about a half hour away from me. Being a part of another book club, much less running one intimidates me right now, but maybe someday.

    Our book club is very informal since it consists mostly of Dreadlock Girl's friends. We meet for dinner at a restaurant once a month and gab for hours about life. Then we go out for dessert and talk about the book. Sometimes our meetings can last for four hours altogether, but most of that is girl talk. It's the most informal book club I've ever heard of, but I love it.

    We just give our impressions of the book, feed off of each other's ideas, and there is hardly ever any down time in the conversation. I think that's the benefit of having an established group of friends forming the group. The drawback is trying to keep everyone on topic during the actual book discussion.

    We are also informal about choosing books, and if anyone has a suggestion they speak up at the meetings and then we all give feedback about whether or not we are interested in reading the book.

    I know I didn't answer all of your questions, but our group is really so informal that I have to think that we're the exception to the rule.

  13. Good luck Vivienne! I tried a Book Club in NYC but it was pretty hard to get all us girls together at once (everyone's so busy in NYC). We met on the weekends for brunch at a place and we rotated who got to pick the next book. Good luck! Please tell us how it goes, the advice you get and what works for you!

  14. Hi Viv, that's one great venture you're getting into. I'll bookmark this page to keep it for reference.

  15. I belong to three bookclubs. One group reads the same book and takes turns meeting at each others houses. The host makes the main dish and everyone else brings salads, appetizers, side dishes, and desert. We eat appetizers and chat about life but when we sit down for dinner we start the conversation about the book. We have the best discussions about the book if some of us didn't like it. It's easy to agree if we all liked it but better to discuss what we didn't like about characters, style, etc. We all give ideas about our next book and come to an agreement of which one to read for next time.

    My second group meets at the same house each month. She has a huge house, no kids, and a table that seats 12. We do not read the same book. We all bring a stack of books to share, give mini book reports, introduce new books by favorite authors or say if you like a certain author, you may like this book. So much fun. Everyone comes because no one had to have read the book. We all bring food to share. Talk during appetizers about life and then sit down to eat. We put our piles of books by our plates and one person starts with their pile and talks about the books they brought to share and then everyone "fights" over who gets to borrow the books until next time. Everyone is eating during this and then when that person is done sharing, the next person goes through their stack. This takes us about 2 hours as we have 12 avid readers who are willing to lend each other books. The books are brought back the next time so others may read them and also new ones to discuss. If you want your book back, you put your name in them. So much fun and a huge turnout each time.

    My third group is just three of us. One of our friends moved to another state and the three of us read the same book, certain number of chapters and then discuss those chapters online and then go onto more chapters. It keeps us connected and we choose books that are personal to one of us.

    Good luck with your new group. My youngest just went to college so three nights a month (one night for each group) is not too much for my schedule.

  16. Wow - what fantastic responses. You guys are amazing.

    Alison - the rota sounds good and I like the idea of choosing three books and then pulling it out of a hat. I shall definitely put that idea forward.

    Clover - I like the idea of the online book club. You will have to let me know more.

    Molly - that is one of my worries.That my friends may not be as enthusiastic as me.

    Amanda - i like the sound of the library, only our one has really stupid opening hours, so we would struggle to get in there.

    I like the idea of everyone putting in a suggestion and then making a list for the year too, so I will put that idea forward as well. I will just keep hassling you through each stage, if that is OK.LOL.

    Blodeuedd and Bibiliophile by the sea - no worries.

    Bermudaonion - I hope you get to set up one too.

    Suko - I like the idea of a mother and daughter one too. I have just spoke to my family about perhaps setting up a family one too.

    Avisannschild - ooh I am glad that I am not on my own. We can help each other.

    Ladytink - thank you for that.I will go and check that out.

    Naida - thank you.

    Alyce - wow that sounds very informal. I used to go to one similar, but in the end, they stopped talking about books and just had a social event.

    Amanda - I will keep you all informed as I set it up.

    Alyce - thank you.

    Dee - thanks for stopping by. I love the sound of your second one. It sounds like a bit of a book swap session. I will see how many avid readers I get before I do that. I love the idea of having a meal with it too.

    Thank you everyone for such fabulous advice.

  17. A day late here, but our bookclub meets in the morning at member's homes (spring through fall) and at a local coffee house in the winter (snow causes parking issues). Our meetings are monthly, with a July/Aug pot luck dinner. We've also had a book/movie night in the winter - Rebecca was the most successful.

    There is no summary, and we start with everyone giving their general opinion of the book. The discussion follows and is very informal, with no assigned leader. Books are decided only a month ahead (we tried quarterly, but always seemed to change when a 'must read now' book came up) by general consensus.

    We mostly read literary fiction, but try to include a classic, nonfiction, memoir, or even YA every year.
    Good luck getting your group started!

  18. That's fantastic Vivienne! I've belonged to book groups for years and have really enjoyed them all for various reasons.

    Currently I only go to one book group. We have a set meeting time & place. We usually pick our books three months in advance (just what anyone suggests) but our focus is only mysteries. The best piece of advice I can offer is to try and not let one person dominate the group. I know sometimes that's hard but everyone should feel like they are being heard.

  19. Exciting! I have just started a reading group at my work place with one of the other girls! Let's us know how you get on with this.

  20. LOL--not sure you need ANOTHER opinion, but here goes. Also note my book club is through work.

    1-3. We usually meet once a month after work--typically a coffeehouse but sometimes a restaurant

    4-5. We usually begin by everyone talking about what they thought--initial reactions, etc. This usually leads to the more "meatier" discussion.

    6. We take turns picking books. This is good and bad as this month we're reading a book that 4/6 of us have already read!

    7. It is an unwritten "rule" that whoever picks the book is responsible for moderation--coming up with questions for when there's a lull in the conversation.

    8. I pick books that I know others wouldn't normally read. There are a few members who pick the same types of books each time. But we have pretty good variety.

    I'm actually always looking for tips as well. I don't think we have a particularly successful book club, but that's also because most of the members are casual readers--don't "think" too much about what they're reading. But, we're all learning...

  21. You're really convincing me more and more that maybe I should search out a local group. These sound like so much fun!


Hiya, thanks for stopping by, it is always nice to hear what you have to say, so do leave a comment if you have time.