“Rules” for Creating a Beautiful Book Club

In the Creating Book Clubs episode, we mentioned the email Jennifer Naraki sent out inviting us to take part in her dreamy book club.
Some of us (Brianne Busky) found the long list of “rules” to be just right, and loved the idea of being part of such an organized book club.
Others of us (Greta Eskridge) wondered why a book club had to be so “rulesy” and wasn’t sure if  this book club was right for her. But she joined anyway because she just had a feeling that this book club was too good a thing to pass up.
Turns out both Brianne and Greta, and especially Jennifer Naraki, were right.
This book club was a very good thing, and a few rules make a book club run much more smoothly.

So in case you missed these details amidst all the laughter of the Book Club episode, here are some of our rules for creating a beautiful book club.

1. Read a limited amount of books a year.  Both our kids book club and our moms book club read only 4 books a year. That means we meet once every season, and it is a good way to keep the reading, or the meetings, from becoming overwhelming for any of us.
2. Plan the book club meetings as a team.  The principle of “many hands make light work” really applies here.  For our kid book clubs, one family chooses the book and leads the party. However, they do not have to do all the work for the party alone. The mom leading the party emails the group with her ideas for food and activities. She asks the other families to sign up for food and any other things she needs help with. This allows for a grand party to be had, but without one family shouldering all the responsibility themselves.
For the mom book club, we work in teams of 3. That means each member of the book club plans and hosts only one book club a year. Each team picks a book and plans a party for the rest of the group. By working on a team, and only hosting once a year, none of us get burned out by a book club that is too much work.
3.  Share the costs.  Book club parties do cost money and there are two different approaches to sharing those costs among our groups. For the kids book clubs, the parties are all potluck style, including food, plates, cups, silverware, drinks etc. That way the cost is split among all of us.
For the moms book clubs, we each contribute $15-$20 per meeting. That means for the cost of going out with friends, we are all sitting down to a beautiful meal, and usually some other kind of entertainment, (horse back riding, boat rides, calligraphy lessons and more) Again, since we meet only 4 times a year, the cost isn’t prohibitive for us.
4.  Make sure to discuss the book!  Part of the greatest joy of a book club is the discussion. In the kid book clubs, the family leading the book club creates a list of discussion questions and the mom usually leads that discussion with all the kids during the party. Its wonderful to see the way the kids are so engaged in the book and are excited to talk about it with their friends. Often the discussion lasts a long time because the kids have so much to share.
For our moms book club, the team leading the party also leads the discussion. Sometimes it is very informal and loose. Other times there are specific questions and ideas brought up. Either way is fine. What matters is that we get to discuss the book, because we really enjoy that!

And in case you were wondering, here is a list of the books our mamas book club has read together:
1. The Yearling
2. Wuthering Heights
3. A Room With A View
4. A Tree Grows In Brooklyn
5. The Woman In White
6. Hidden Flower
7. Sense and Sensibility
8. Brave New World
9. Ramona
10. The Count of Monte Christo
11. The Keeper of the Bees
12. Go Set a Watchman
13. The Bell Jar
14. Cannery Row
15. Rebecca

And here is a list of some of the book club reads for our kids book club:
1. A Little Princess
2. Anne of Green Gables
3. My Side of the Mountain
4. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
5. Caddie Woodlawn
6. Alice in Wonderland
7. Swiss Family Robinson
8. Black Beauty
9. Brighty of the Grand Canyon
10. Man of the Family
11. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
12. Peter Pan
It is our sincere hope that you will be inspired to create a book club for your kids, or one for you and some of your mama friends.
Or perhaps you’ll get extra ambitious and crete two book clubs! And I can tell you honestly that book clubs, the act of discussion a book together with friends is one of the great joys in my life.

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