Discover these clever book club ideas and add a little spice to your next meeting.
Your book club meets tonight and you didn’t even get past the first chapter. Sound familiar? Chances are, everyone in the group has copped to having read only half of the book at one time or another. But that doesn’t lead to a great discussion and, worse, it makes some members reluctant to show up at all. It sounds like you need some new book club ideas to bring excitement back into your meetings.
It’s hard to find titles that interest everyone and the have the time it takes to actually read — but maybe what your group really needs is a little tune-up. Here are some clever book club ideas to do just that.
1. Become a Hollywood Producer
Many of the best, most dramatic books are snatched up by movie studios before they even land on the bestseller list. The next time your group is selecting the next read, take a gander at a Hollywood trade publication to find books that have been optioned for the silver screen. Then, to spice up your book club meeting, have everyone throw out ideas as to which actors should be cast as the hero, the love interest, the best friend and the villain. When the film hits theaters, see it together then discuss how it turned out over a post-movie coffee. Reading a book-turned-movie that’s already left the theaters? Bring the DVD (and a big bag of popcorn) to your next monthly gathering.
2. Read Up on the Real World
Maybe there’s a country that has recently made headlines, but you know little about its politics; or an anniversary of a significant historical event that you seemed to have slept through in social studies class. Put your heads together and scan the news to find a subject that’s not only gripping, but will make you all more knowledgeable. Then go find a book about it.
3. Don’t Just Read Books
There’s no rule to say that your book club has got to read actual books. There are many lengthy articles in popular magazines that are worth a read and can evoke as many tears or chuckles as a novel. Try going online and finding a favorite screenplay or theatrical play to download, or browse your local bookstore’s literary journals, which offer unique short stories, sometimes by famous writers.
4. Choose a Theme
Here’s an idea to get your group on the same page: Pick a theme that interests everyone, then find a book and plan a gathering that celebrates your choice. For example, pick a country and plan a potluck party with recipes from that cuisine. Reading “Madame Bovary”? Have a fete with Beef Bourguignonne, brie on baguettes and a fun fondue. Got a bunch of foodies in your group? Host a cookbook club where you try out different recipes and review them together. If mysteries are more your group’s speed, play a crime-solving game after your book discussion. (It was Colonel Mustard with the candlestick in the conservatory!)
5. Take the Show on the Road
Even if you’ve all read the book, sometimes just talking about it isn’t enough. So get the group together and do something that brings the story to life. If you read a period piece from the 18th century, hit a museum with works from that moment in time. If the book was set in Spain, head to a local tapas joint with your literary lionesses. Read a Faulkner work? A weekend road trip through the South might be just the ticket.
6. Re-Read Classics
Back in high school, you may have missed the fact that “To Kill a Mockingbird” was told entirely in flashback. There are probably several books that you didn’t have the capacity to fully appreciate as a teenage reader. But now, rereading those classics might just bring you better understanding and enjoyment. Shakespeare’s plays are a perfect choice, while Edith Wharton’s “The Age of Innocence” will now seem more like a juicy soap opera than a stuffy old romance from the turn of the century.
7. Incentivize Your Readers
Sometimes the biggest book club problem isn’t choosing the book, it’s getting people to show up. Managing a sniffly toddler or an unexpected work deadline can easily lead to no-shows, so let your members know it’ll be worth the effort to make it by offering incentives. Maybe the pal with perfect attendance gets a gift certificate to a local restaurant or a Saturday night of free babysitting. Up the enticement by creating a pop quiz about what you’ve read. The person with the most right answers wins the right to choose your next novel. Should someone email to say they had a really bad day and aren’t up for coming, offer to switch the meeting to their house and order in pizza. Or let them know that it’s OK to come over and just vent.