Living

9 Tips for a Successful Moms Book Club

Google+ Pinterest LinkedIn Tumblr

Many of Mothers & More chapters throughout the country hold monthly book club meetings. So, what are the key factors in having a successful book club? Let’s take a closer look at Maplewood/ South Orange, New Jersey, one of the largest book clubs with 10-20 members attending each month and Milwaukee West, Wisconsin, which has discussed 155 books during its monthly meetings since 2002 .

1 – Make it a Community Effort

“I love the book club because I get to read books I never would have selected for myself,” observed Pamela Finberg, who has coordinated Milwaukee West’s book club for many of the 15 years that she has been a member of Mothers & More.  At both Maplewood/South Orange and Milwaukee West, all members are involved in nominating and voting on books 4-6 months in advance, hosting the meetings in their homes, bringing food and drinks and participating in the discussions.

2 – Follow a Framework for Organizing and Leading the Club

Marianne Lloyd, book club coordinator for Maplewood/South Orange, has found that having someone lead the book club helps to keep it organized and healthy. “I really appreciate Sue Bottino’s leadership. She created a solid framework for our book club which we have continued,” Marianne said. Similarly, Pamela keeps the records for Milwaukee West, logging books read, members who host, attendees and the descriptions of the books read and nominated. If someone hasn’t participated in a while she’ll call and check in. Both leaders make certain that members participate in all aspects of the book club.

3 – Advertise Book Club Meetings in Advance

Knowing the book selections 4-6 months in advance helps book clubs to advertise and give participants plenty of time to read. They also let members know where to find the book. They advertise through their online networks, newsletters, chapter calendars and websites. When creating the schedule, they both have a set meeting time each month and take busy holidays and slow summers into account.

4 – Keep it Focused

“We are casual,” Pamela explained,” but we take it seriously.” Marianne agreed, “After the potluck social, our leader helps us to stay focused and discuss the book.” Members are not required to read or finish the book (although it helps for a better discussion). They just need to understand that there may be spoilers if they haven’t finished. There is no pressure. Pamela admitted that even she sometimes speed reads towards the end of the book to finish in time.

5 – Keep it Fun

Spending 30-45 minutes at the beginning of each meeting to socialize is critical. Milwaukee West sometimes incorporates the book theme during the social time, such as serving Kir and French food for a book set in France. The winter holidays and January can be tough since everyone is so busy, so Maplewood/South Orange selects shorter books in December and January, and Milwaukee West holds a movie night with a discussion instead. Sometimes clubs invite the authors to join the discussion. For Example, Kambri Crews, author of Burn Down the Ground, joined Milwaukee West via a Skype call. In November, Maplewood/South Orange invited Mothers & More member and author, Pamela Erens, to join in a discussion about her book The Virgins.

The Maplewood / South Orange Chapter Book Club meets monthly to socialize and discuss books

6 – Encourage Good Discussions

Book Club members at Maplewood/South Orange offer questions to add to the ones Marianne researches online and brings. They also check in to see how much they liked the book they discuss, and what was and wasn’t appealing. “Our questions and topics vary, but we often talk about the writing style and what we think the author is like as a person,” said Marianne.  Their discussion ranges above “Did you like it?” and below “Discuss the postmodern symbolism.” Pamela, on the other hand, researches questions online and circulates them to Milwaukee West’s club in advance. At the meeting, she first asks if members enjoyed the book or if they would recommend it. Then they dive into the questions and ultimately “discuss the meaning of life,” she laughed.

According to Marianne, discussions are livelier when people vary in how much they liked it. “The best books to discuss are the ones that are polarizing. Books that have an element of fantasy or characters that are not fully lovable also lead to lots of chatting. We have good discussions about novels that are not necessarily plausible. They require a bit of a stretch.” Pamela agreed, “Controversial subject matters, such as the ethical behavior in My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult, entice good discussions.”

7 – Allow for Diversity

Another factor in having a successful book club is including different types of people. Milwaukee West has 3-15 people attend, averaging about 6-8 per meeting and Maplewood/South Orange averages 10-20 per meeting. They are different ages, have children of different ages and represent the full spectrum of religious, political, and other beliefs. Both chapters have new and long-time members and enjoy their diversity.

8 – Go For It!

If you’re thinking about starting a book club, just go for it! Marianne and Pamela have offered a few titles and recommendations to help you get started:

  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in Night-Time by Mark Haddon
  • The Death of Bees by Lisa O’Donnell
  • The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • Burn Down the Ground by Kambri Crews
  • People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway
  • Lucky Us by Amy Bloom
  • Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Marukami
  • We Are Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
  • This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett

7 Comments

  1. Emily

    I wanted to put you the tiny remark to be able to thank you over again on your pretty suggestions you have provided on this page. It was really strangely open-handed with you to make unhampered precisely what many people would’ve offered for sale for an ebook to get some money for themselves, particularly now that you might have tried it in case you desired. These strategies in addition served to be the good way to know that some people have the identical interest really like my personal own to learn much more when considering this matter. I believe there are several more pleasant sessions in the future for many who read through your site.

  2. Emily

    I am also commenting to let you know of the helpful encounter my friend’s daughter found reading through your web page. She figured out numerous issues, not to mention what it’s like to have an amazing giving mood to have most people really easily know selected impossible subject areas. You really exceeded our own expectations. Many thanks for imparting the interesting, safe, explanatory and even easy thoughts on the topic to Janet.

  3. Emily

    I precisely needed to appreciate you once again. I am not sure the things that I might have gone through in the absence of the entire pointers provided by you on such a problem. It had been a very frightening difficulty in my circumstances, however , looking at the skilled manner you processed that made me to jump over fulfillment. I am happier for this help and in addition hope you know what a great job you are getting into instructing others through the use of your site. I know that you have never encountered all of us.

  4. Emily

    My spouse and i have been really joyous that Jordan managed to finish off his research through your precious recommendations he had through the web pages. It is now and again perplexing to just find yourself handing out solutions which people today may have been selling. Therefore we know we need the writer to give thanks to for that. The most important illustrations you have made, the simple web site navigation, the relationships you will help to instill – it’s got most powerful, and it’s really leading our son in addition to the family reason why the situation is fun, which is really pressing. Thank you for the whole lot!

  5. Emily

    My spouse and i got quite happy that John could deal with his preliminary research through the ideas he grabbed out of your web page. It’s not at all simplistic to just continually be giving out points that many others have been selling. And we also fully understand we have got the website owner to be grateful to for that. The main explanations you have made, the simple site menu, the friendships you can help foster – it’s got many impressive, and it’s really helping our son and the family imagine that the matter is excellent, and that is pretty indispensable. Thank you for everything!

Write A Comment