A few weeks ago, I got a question about how to be a good book club member.
I LOVED this question!
It makes such a difference in how a book club runs when the members of the book club are really looking to make the book club a success.
Here are some of the best ways to be a great asset to your book club:
11 ways to be a good book club member
- ATTEND. This seems so obvious but it’s clearly not to many people. When I asked on Instagram for the most helpful thing to be a good book club member, this was the #1 response – it’s so frustrating when people say that they’d love to be in a book club and then never come. The best book I ever belonged to was in Texas and they were very clear when a new member joined that the policy was that you needed to attend 75% off the time to keep your spot. That might seem harsh to some people and you may want a very casual book club, but if you want a committed book club, it’s helpful to set that expectation ahead of time.
- IF YOU CAN’T COME, LET THE ORGANIZER KNOW IN ADVANCE. Of course, everyone in a book club should know that things come up, illness happens, or trips are on the calendar and sometimes you won’t be able to attend. But when that’s the case, it’s really nice if you let the host know so that everyone isn’t sitting around waiting to start the discussion until you come or that they’re not making food for twice as many people as will actually show up. Ghosting isn’t a great option (and if you have to bow out of a book club, do it like an adult and kindly let the group know you don’t have the bandwidth for book club right now).
- READ THE BOOK. This is the biggest pet peeve for so many people in a book club – when you’ve put aside the time to read the book and then find out no one else even cracked the cover or made it past the first 20 pages. If you’re in a book club, be prepared to read the book. If it’s not a book club where people actually read and discuss the books, be honest about that and make it clear it’s really a snack or dessert or wine club and you might mention a book you’ve recently read.
- IF YOU CAN’T READ THE BOOK, SPEND 10 MINUTES PREPPING TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION. Sometimes you just won’t get to the book, but you can still google a synopsis or discussion questions or ask someone who has read it about it so that you can participate in the discussion (and so many people on Instagram said it’s their pet peeve at book club when someone doesn’t read the book and then demands no one spoils it for them during the discussion. If you didn’t finish the book, don’t expect the group to protect the ending for you).
- BE WILLING TO READ BOOKS OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE. One of the reasons many readers want to join a book club is to find new-to-you books and have a push to read more widely than they might otherwise. Some books might not be something you would have picked, but that’s part of the fun, plus those books that aren’t your cup of tea often make for the best discussions. (Also, it’s helpful for some groups to set parameters about the kinds of books your book club will read. For instance, my book club in Texas said no fluffy fiction and no self-help. Some book clubs might want no books with sex or swearing. Like Brené Brown says, “Clear is kind.” It’s way better to know up front that your group will not take kindly to certain kinds of books than to find out after you’ve selected a book that everyone is unhappy with it).
- BE WILLING TO HOST. Hosting can mean both having the book club meeting at your home AND picking books and leading the discussion. It’s hard for one person to continually have to be choosing the book and leading the discussion and hosting. I’ve found that the best book clubs generally have some sort of rotation for hosting both because it makes it sustainable and also because when you know you’ll be choosing the title and leading the discussion and prepping your home to host, you’ll be more cognizant about supporting others when it’s their turn to do it.
- ENGAGE IN REAL CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE BOOK. I do NOT care for a book club where everyone’s like “so what did you think about the book?” and “oh it was good. I liked it.” Be ready to compare it to another book or point out your favorite or least favorite parts or share a quote that struck you or find out a bit about the author or the time period. There is nothing better than a great, engaging conversation about the book and the topics it brings up but it requires people to be ready to talk.
- DON’T DOMINATE THE CONVERSATION. We all know the book club member who just loves the sound of their own voice. Try not to be that person.
- BE OPEN TO OTHERS OPINIONS. Mixed opinions is part of the fun of book club but don’t make other people feel stupid for liking a book you thought was completely inane. If you didn’t like it, there are ways to share your feelings without making other people feel bad about how they felt.
- START A BOOK CLUB TEXT GROUP. I loved this idea from an Instagram reader. She said, “I love when we have a group text and people engage on there during the month while reading.” This is a fun way to share favorite quotes, related articles, or other thoughts about the book and get everyone ready for your book club meeting.
- BE THOUGHTFUL AND THOROUGH ABOUT YOUR BOOK CHOICES. I feel this SO MUCH every year when I choose the Everyday Reading Book Club titles. Of course no title is going to appeal to everyone, but it’s usually going to go better when you’ve either already read the book and can feel confident about recommending it or you do some pretty thorough research beforehand to make sure it’s going to be a good fit for your book club. Nobody likes being forced to read a book that was only picked because Jane’s aunt mentioned she liked it or because it has a shiny award sticker on the front.
Any other suggestions for being a good book club member? I’d love to hear!