Tell me about your book club

A few friends and I recently started a book club. The idea is to read interesting sci-fi/fantasy/speculative fiction that isn’t bound by genre conventions (e.g., no sword & sorcery). We meet once a month, and this month we’re reading “The Antelope Wife” by Louise Erdrich–which is amazing, by the way. The one previous meeting was held at my house, but this upcoming meeting, and possibly future meetings, will be at a local sofa bar.

Tell me about your book club. What kind of books do you read? How many people are in the club? How do you select the books? Any tips for novice book clubbers?

Our book club has been around since 1999. We started out as four moms with little boys (all under 2 y.o.) who decided we needed a night out w/o kids once a month. We used books as an excuse. Now there are 7 of us. All moms, but with both boys and girls. It’s been great we’ve been watching our kids grow up and reading good books at the same time!

We put absolutely no rules on what kind of books. We’ve read all kinds of books, fiction and non-fiction. We meet at the location of choice of the person who picked the book. Tomorrow night’s meeting is at a local restaurant. I didn’t read the book. But every month it seems someone hasn’t read it. We spen about 1/3 of the evening discussing the books and the rest just chatting and enjoying a night out.

My only tips for a new bookclub is to decide early on the maximum number of members you want in the club. Eight is a good max number. If you get too many it becomes hard for everyone to keep track. Also, don’t get upset if someone doesn’t like your book. It’s going to happen. We had one girl quit because quite a few of us just didn’t like her book one month.

Have fun!

How timely, I just sent out the first email to trigger the third year of our book club. We have about 10 people and everyone gets to choose a book. We decided up front to hold meetings every month except December and July when most people were too busy. Also we drew up the schedule at the beginning of the year, you have to host once at your home and host your book (not at the same time). Oh and everyone brings one bottle of wine, even if you don’t drink, and the remaining wine (there’s never much) is the host gift. Our book club is heavy on the good food (sometimes matched to the book), wine and socializing.

We’ve recently created the rule that you must have read the book you recommend. We had some terrible books last year and the members who picked them felt really bad. We’ve also kept a cap on the length of the book so that all members can easily finish the book without it being a chore.

Oh and one fun thing we do is in December we have a book exchange on our regular evening at a pub.

No kidding. I’m part of a small book group composed of friends, so it’s a matter of course that interpersonal strife often gets conflated with criticisms of the book. You criticize the book, not the person who chose it. And we’ve had several instances where people have taken it very personally that their selection wasn’t one of the more popular reads. I usually end up doing all the organizing, and I have to say one thing that really chaps my ass is people not budgeting time to read the book. We usually allow ourselves about a month to complete a novel–not an unheard of amount of time–and pretty much every single time we’ve had to move the date to accomodate someone who hasn’t finished reading by then.

We’ve had some great discussions. We’ve also had members storm out of the room in tears, to be chased down later. Someday, someone’s going to break a wine glass.

Words cannot express how overwhelmingly envious I feel while reading this thread.

The only people I know who read are all related to me.

I hate this area. :frowning:

Yeah, we meet monthly as well. It’s usually enough time to get the book read. We have on occasion taken a poll on how far everyone got on a particularly long or difficult book. The we will discuss the book, say, up to chapter 9 that night and discuss the rest the next month.

One thing we’ve noticed over the last 5 years is that a lot of people don’t budget reading time in the summer very well. I guess it’s because of vacations and more activities and stuff. I know I’m guilty of it once in a while. I will show up at bookclub tonight, not having read August’s book. I’m so ashamed.

That makes sense. I’d actually like to recruit more members, right now we just have 4 people. We may soon ask my brother-in-law if he wants to join, though. He’s a very smart guy with good taste in books.

The first book we read was deeply, incredibly lousy. Thraxis by Martin Scott. It was a World Fantasy Award-winner, which is usually a great sign. Unfortunately, it stunk, but, fortunately, everyone recognized it.

Now this is a brilliant idea. I also love the idea of the book exchange.

Whoa. What was the book that month?

jsgoddess, maybe an on-line book club? I think the SDMB had/has one.

Also, what books are your clubs currently reading?

The book that month was Rides of the Midway by Lee Durkee. It wasn’t terribly good, but the tears were the result of one member pushing an interpretation overly hard, and when confronted sort of lost it. It was, incidentally, our inaugural meeting. People have also pitched fits over other people not reading their books as well as not liking them. Sometimes, booze and book groups do not mix as well as they should.

We just finished a children’s book round, featuring books we’d read and loved as kids and wanted to check out again as adults. We read White Fang, David Copperfield (don’t ask), A Wrinkle in Time, The Magician’s Nephew, and are due to discuss Susan Cooper’s Over Sea, Under Stone at the end of the month. But that date’s probably going to change. :wink:

Also, the way we select books is that everyone throws in one or two picks into a hat, and we randomly pick from there. Easy peasy.

I love my book club! Some of our guidelines …

We try to mix up current stuff and classic stuff. Sometimes we pair two books on a related theme, and do a “compare and contrast” type discussion.

Since we also read older books, the rule is that books have to be in print, and available in paperback. Buying hardcovers seems like a lot to ask, as does tracking down used copies of out of print books.

It’s funny how not all books that are fun to read are fun to discuss. Sometimes, a good book just makes you say “wow, that was a good book” and then you realize that you don’t have any other comments. Sometimes books that you HATE are more fun to discuss. There was one book that we just ripped to shreds, and I found myself rereading it the other day because my memories of it are so fond!

Not everyone has to be a book leader. Some people enjoy leading the discussion a lot, and others feel uncomfortable being the center of attention. That’s fine with us – the people who like it are generally better leaders anyway. If people just want to read and talk, but not lead, that’s great and they’re welcome at the club.

The schedule of books gets set every September for the upcoming year. Pretty much everyone who wants to suggest a book can get one on the schedule. If you miss that meeting, you don’t get a vote. We’re fairly laid back about this, no one has ever gone off in a huff because of the book selection. I like picking a year’s worth – then you know what’s coming up so you can read ahead if you’re going to be on vacation or something where you have a lot of reading time.

I think mostly because we’re in NYC, we usually meet in a cafe in a bookstore instead of in someone’s home. A lot of people have very small apartments, and it’s hard to accommodate a group of our size. This works out well for us, people buy whatever they want to eat or drink, so some are having coffee while others grab a full meal, and best of all, no clean up.

At the holidays, we do a Yankee swap of gently used books. This is always a lot of fun.

That sounds like a lot of fun. I’d be worried, though, that some of my old favorites haven’t weathered well, which would make me sad.

Seems very sensible. Our next book is supposed to be Metropolis (that the Fritz Lang movie was based on), but we’ve all had trouble finding copies, so it may change to something else. I also like the idea of setting up the schedule further in advance.