Mental and Physical Health

The Importance of Social Life: How to Start and Maintain a Book Club

group of seniors at a book club meeting

Maintaining an active social life is an essential part of mental health. To have a strong social network, it’s essential to attend recurring social events. A recurring social event is one that meets at a consistent day and time and repeats on a weekly, monthly, or even bimonthly basis.

These events are fantastic for building a strong connections. You get to see the same people regularly in a structured setting. Examples of recurring social events that you may be familiar with include a monthly golf meetup, weekly church services, or a local class you attend.

You can also host your own recurring social event or gather a couple close friends and host a recurring gathering together! This is an opportunity for you to see your friends more often and to meet new people.

While there are a variety of these events that are simple to hold (like a monthly tea luncheon or a weekly exercise group), today I want to talk about how to start a book club. Book clubs are fantastic social gatherings since the book you’re reading gives familiar ground to everyone at the event. This allows you to communicate with people you may not know well or have much in common with.

group of seniors chatting

Book clubs are also incredibly inclusive. Most books can be purchased through Audible so even members with poor eyesight can listen to the book being read.

This article will walk you through some simple steps for starting a book club and how to run a book club. Don’t be daunted! This is a manageable project that will create a wonderful social opportunity for you and other members of your community.

Step #1: Start with Logistics

First, who will be hosting? Will it be just you or do you have a friend or two who would be interested in hosting with you? You can absolutely host on your own, but having some support will probably be helpful.

Second, you need to choose a date, time, and location. You need to think about when you will be available to host and when your friend group will be available. For example, if a lot of your friends work during the day, consider choosing a weekend or a weeknight evening.

These are the basic logistics to sort through, but there are a couple other book club rules to consider before you start sending invitations. How will books be nominated and chosen? Is there a themed subject matter to the club (e.g. mystery, autobiography, etc.) or does anything go?

Will the books be newer books that members will have to buy? Or will they be older books with multiple copies available at nearby libraries?

How often will you meet and how much will members be expected to read between meetings? Who will lead discussions? Are you going to write all the discussion questions or will members be expected to bring a question to the group?

Depending on the time of day, will refreshments or a full meal be necessary? Who will provide and pay for these items?

The logistical side of this can seem exhausting, but don’t get caught up in it. Take each question one at a time and write down your answers keeping in mind the audience you hope to attract to the club. And remember you can always change the way the club works to best suit the members.

Once you’ve answered the questions, you should have something like this: I’m hosting a mystery-themed book club bi-weekly at my house, Tuesdays, 8pm. When a book is finished, members can anonymously submit book recommendations, and those submissions will be voted on anonymously. All books must be available for sale used online. Every meeting, members must have read three chapters and come with one discussion question and a snack or drink to share.

Step #2: Write the Invitations

blank invitation

Once you’ve gotten the logistics together, you need to write up an invitation! The invitation needs to contain the logistical information in a fun format that will be appealing to the people you’re sending to.

In addition to that logistical information, it’s important to include whether or not the invitation is open. Can invitees invite other folks to the club? Or is this a exclusive invitation open only to the people you send it to.

Consider choosing a fun first book and including it in your invitation. It should be a classic book that people will not be intimidated by.

Step #3: Managing the Meetings

After logistics and invitations, the only thing left is to consider how you’ll handle each meeting. If you are really good friends with all the people coming you’ll need to consider how to keep everyone on track. If the group includes a lot of people who don’t know each other well, you’ll need to consider how to spark conversation.

I recommend having a meeting structure that everyone can follow along with. You can send the agenda out before the meeting or have handouts to give people when they walk in. A simple agenda can look something like this:

8:00-8:15: Chat and grab food and drinks.

8:15-9:00: Structured discussion

9:00-9:30: Open discussion, more snacks, and socializing

Try starting each discussion by having a member read a quote from the book. That sets the tone and helps get everyone focused.

It can also be helpful to have a really thought-provoking question to start with at the beginning of the discussion. If you can’t think of one, just look one up! There are lots of helpful resources online to get the discussion going.

Once the discussion has started, you can either let members ask their own questions, or collect all the questions and arrange them in a way that will help the discussion move forward.

Finally, have a final thought, quote, or challenging question to end the structured discussion period. This gives closure to the discussion and allows people to start to socialize and discuss individually with other members.

Final Thoughts

I hope these three simple steps gave you book club ideas! Recurring social gatherings are a fantastic way to strengthen and grow your network of friends, and a book club is a great way to bring people together.

If you have any questions, leave them below!