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Book clubs

You don't have to be Reese Witherspoon to start a book club: Follow these 6 tips

Looking for a way to reach your yearly reading goal? Join a book club.

Belonging to a book club can hold you accountable and help you branch out from your normal reading choices. According to survey results provided to 91影视 by the , 75% of their nearly one million members said they joined a group to discover new books.听

鈥淲e are lonelier and more divided than ever and I think this age-old practice of reading and discussing books with others helps to unlock shared interests ... and helps us get to know one another on a deeper level,鈥 says Anna Ford, the co-.听

Open Book Club in New York City hosts a meeting.

How to start a book club

Ford is currently in six active book clubs and leads four of them. She's learned that you get out of a book club what you put in.

Check out: 91影视's weekly Best-selling Booklist

鈥淭hat doesn鈥檛 mean organizing and logistics,鈥 she says. 鈥淚t鈥檚 really being a thoughtful and respectful, engaged member, reading the books always, bringing thoughts and ideas and openness to the meeting.鈥

But you don鈥檛 have to be a seasoned leader to create a book club. Liz Montesano started in New York City because she wanted to form a community around reading.

Here are their tips to get started:

1. Ask friends to join

Montesano started her club by , asking book lovers to meet her on a Wednesday night.

鈥淚 just pushed myself to 鈥 figure out all of the details along the way and just start it by saying 鈥業鈥檓 going to read this and at this time, I鈥檓 going to talk about it. And if people want to come, you鈥檙e more than welcome,鈥欌 she says.听

Start by asking friends, family members and coworkers to join you. Have them bring a friend along. Spread the word on social media or by word of mouth. Bring your book club up in conversations. But if you want to keep it intimate, don鈥檛 be afraid to start small, Montesano says: 鈥淎 group of two people is still a book club."聽

2. Know your purpose

After you get a good group together, define your purpose as a club. Do you want to make new friends? Learn about a new topic? Bring people with different beliefs together? Strengthen a pre-existing friend or professional group?

3. Set the ground rules

As you build membership up, make sure everyone has the same expectations. Is your club an open invite? Or do you want to create a small, intimate atmosphere?聽

Though Open Book Club is public, Montesano typically caps the events at 30 people. Any more than that, she feels, would make it "hard to open up and be vulnerable.鈥

4. Get organized: Choose a book and when to meet

There鈥檚 no one-size-fits-all solution 鈥 every book club is different. You can rotate who picks the book or do a group poll system. Bookclubs found that clubs that conduct polls to choose books have higher engagement, Ford says.

Deciding when to meet tends to be the biggest roadblock, Ford says. That鈥檚 why she created Bookclubs 鈥 to take the burden off of members. polling, calendar scheduling, digital shelving, reading reminders and embedded video software.听

5. Host your first meeting

If you鈥檙e meeting in person, host your book club somewhere with plenty of seating options so people can get comfy and discuss.听

Montesano hosts hers at a coworking space in New York. She has members contribute money toward food and wine 鈥渢o make it feel like you鈥檙e hanging out with friends and breaking bread.鈥 She always keeps plenty of water on hand for all the talking.听

You can opt for a free-for-all discussion or prepare questions as a jumping-off point.听

Montesano has members break up into small groups and rotate after 30 minutes to discuss with someone new since her club is bigger.

Good questions can help drive lively discussion. Successful questions have prompted members about fan theories or characters, Montesano says. Sometimes she鈥檒l look at reviews and ask members if they agree or disagree with what critics said about the book.

6. Schedule your next meeting

After the meeting wraps is the perfect time to capitalize on that energy and schedule the next one.

鈥淢inimizing the time between the end of the meeting and scheduling your next meeting is another key to success,鈥 Ford says.

Members of book clubs on the Bookclubs platform, an organizing tool that helps groups operate more efficiently.

How often should a book club meet?

Every club is different, and you may have to find your footing before you find the best flow for your club. Clubs that meet with a certain 鈥渃adence and frequency,鈥 say, monthly, are more likely to stay together, Bookclubs data found.

Because Montesano鈥檚 Open Book Club is both a social event and a space for discussing books, she hosts sessions two to three times a month. But your club might decide once a month or once every other month is more feasible.听

It鈥檚 important to gauge how quickly your members can read the book selection and be realistic.

What is a good book club book?

Any genre makes for a good book club pick, says Ford. It just depends on what your members like to read. The most popular genre on Bookclubs is literary fiction, followed by mystery and thriller.听

Here are the top 10 on Bookclubs:

  1. "Lessons in Chemistry" by Bonnie Garmus
  2. "Where the Crawdads Sing" by Delia Owens
  3. "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  4. "The Midnight Library" by Matt Haig
  5. "The Silent Patient" by Alex Michaelides
  6. "Verity" by Colleen Hoover
  7. "The Vanishing Half" by Britt Bennett
  8. "Remarkably Bright Creatures" by Shelby Van Pelt
  9. "Educated" by Tara Westover
  10. "Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow" by Gabrielle Zevin

Montesano says she gravitates toward books that are relatable to members. That could mean the main character is of a similar age or lives in the same state as you.

鈥淚t provides such good fodder ... as an icebreaker question: 鈥楬ave you been to any of the places that are mentioned in the book鈥 or 鈥楧o you think the book would have been different if it was set in another city?鈥欌

You鈥檒l want to pick a book that鈥檚 a conversation starter. A book that鈥檚 universally loved is not necessarily a good book club pick, Montesano says. Dislike and disagreement are grounds for a good book club debate. Check out 91影视鈥檚 list of the best book club choices to spark a lively discussion.听

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