Photo by timtom.ch
Well, as my first series draws to a close, the difficult question of socializing must be addressed: How much? By nature, book clubs are social. As I wrote in part 4, after we finish the solitary act of reading a novel, we are anxious for the communal experience of discussing it. However, depending on the nature and relationships of the group, book club may be the only time members see each other and the communal nature of “catching up” may dominate and even overtake your club.
To a certain extent, socializing will always be an element of a book club, especially the longer a club meets. But here are a couple of recommendations for how to keep your club focused on the work at hand: — If your club includes refreshments, limit socializing to this time. Since it is human nature to immediately ask “how have you been?” it may be easier to put this portion of your book club first, then discuss the book afterwards.
— Starting with a warm-up game as soon as every member is present might initially focus the group on the book: consider playing music connected to the work and then asking members what they think the connection is. Or members could bring an object or appetizer that echoes a character or theme of the novel and explain the connection (or have other members guess). Members could bring their favorite sentence from the novel (or mostconfusing, upsetting, etc.) and begin by reading the sentences aloud. Really, any activity that gets the group focused on the novel at the start would work.
— Saving subjective opinions (“how did you like the book”) for last may naturally curtail personal chatter until this point. We tend to support our subjective opinions with anecdotes from our lives, which can then easily lead to catching up. So, hopefully the ideas in this post — and in the entire series — will help your book club become just a little bit better… Happy Reading! I would love to hear how YOUR book club has confronted these issues and appreciate any ideas and suggestions for future series, too!