If you’re not sure where to start, there are virtual book clubs. Celebrities have started book clubs on social media. Jenna Bush Hagar has @readwithjenna on Instagram. There is also Reese Witherspoon’s @reesesbookclub. Everyone knows about @oprahsbookclub. It has been around for decades - long before there was social media. If you want something a little closer to home, check with local libraries and bookstores. They often have monthly books and related events - either in person or virtual.
If you can’t find an established book club that matches your taste and schedule, start one of your own. There is no correct formula for a book club. It’s whatever you want it to be. For some, a book club is all about the books. For others, it’s more about the social aspect. For most, it’s probably a happy combination of the two.
If you would like to start a book club, I’ll share how ours works, just for illustration. Again, there is no right or wrong way to structure your book club.
We have around 15 members - all women. We don’t have a leader, but we do have a secretary (for lack of a better word) who keeps us up-to-date on what we’re doing. This member volunteers to send out emails about our schedule, what we’re reading, etc. The position can last as long as the person wants to do it.
We meet monthly in someone’s home. There are generally three hosts for each meeting. These hosts prepare a repast of some sort, which can be anything from heavy hors d’oeuvres to salads or soup/chili, or maybe even a Thanksgiving style meal. Sometimes the meal will reflect that month’s book - like a meal of Southeast Asian dishes. Each meeting centers around one book that was recommended for reading that month. There is no requirement to recommend a book, or to even have read the book to attend. Anyone who hasn’t read or hasn’t finished that month’s book knows that there will be spoilers as we discuss the book. Generally, the person who recommended the book will start the discussion, and then we go around the room. Each member who has finished the book rates it on a scale of 1-10. For the most part, we believe that anyone who writes a book deserves at least a four to a six. (Although, we banned one author’s books from our reading list because the majority thought they were just terrible.) Our discussions are often animated, but never argumentative. Occasionally, we have guests join our meetings. Author Emily Carpenter shared her debut novel, “Burying the Honeysuckle Girls,” with us, and the Mountain Mirror’s own Ferris Robinson joined us to discuss her book, “Making Arrangements.” Attorney Elisabeth Donnovin visited us to discuss environmental law and strip-mining in Appalachia in conjunction with John Grisham’s book “Gray Mountain.” We’ve had joint meetings with other book clubs. We have seen movie adaptations and attended author events as a group. We are definitely all about the books AND the socializing.
We read a variety of books, both fiction and non-fiction. We have read a 93-page book based on a TED Talk, “The Terrorist’s Son: A Story of Choice” by Zak Ebrahim, as well as a 500-page novel set during the Inquisition, Rachel Kadish’s “The Weight of Ink.” When we read “The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek,” by Kim Michelle Richardson, and “Orphan Train” by Christina Kline Baker, we learned that we have members with family connections to the stories in each of those books.
Consider adding reading/sharing books in 2022. Our books for the next few months are “The Thursday Murder Club” by Richard Osman, “Call Your Daughter Home” by Deb Spera, and “The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles.
Happy New Year, Happy Reading, and Happy Bookclubbing in 2022!