Everything has a tendency to break at one point or another.
I’m swooping in as the book club “Wolf” toda
y to clean up any messes. Is your
book club threatening to crack in two?
No fear, the Book Club Wolf is here.
Here are eight reasons your book club might be faltering and
some solutions to help…
I have no idea how your book club makes its selections but
after partaking in several book clubs for years, I’ve come to understand the
value of assessing a book’s conversation quotient. What’s a conversation
quotient? The degree to which a book incites quality, enriching, and meaningful
dialogue. Some books are fantastic but just don’t lend themselves to this type
Solution: Visit sites like Goodreads and bookmovement to read what people are saying about books. Ask friends what their
book clubs have enjoyed. It’s worth these small acts to figure out if your
group is reading books with optimal conversation quotient potential.
Books that have stirred engrossing conversations in book
clubs that I’ve attended…
Gone Girl, Still
Alice, Mudbound, Defending Jacob…to name a few.
This role need not be assigned to one person, but book clubs
begin to weaken when no one wants to step up and begin asking probing,
Solution: Many authors have book club discussion
questions listed on their websites or often if you Google discussion questions
or the book title a dozen options will pop up for your club to explore.
This one is the hardest to pinpoint. But it happens. Eager
Emma doesn’t mix well with Shy Cheryl. Hyper-opinionated Halle causes friction
every time she sits next to super open-minded Opal. Hundreds of these group
dynamics could be misfiring.
new members. Discern commitment level. Break off into two separate groups
within the same meeting (or not).
Only two or three members show up.
Solution: Change the meeting to daytime hours, or
evening if you previously met in the day. Coordinate best times that would
work. Write up a mini-questionnaire to get opinions on what would help
strengthen the book club. Everyone likes to feel heard.
Hungry and Thirsty Members
Bowl of stale popcorn and water won’t entice many members.
Solution: I’m not
suggesting you break the bank, but there are many ways to creatively tie in the
theme when you provide a few light snacks (brownies are an inexpensive classic)
and maybe a drink or two. I make a blueberry sangria whenever I host (because
it’s yummy + cost effective).
Feed the troops. They’ll thank you for it and it will improve
the overall experience.
Getting right down to business the second everyone walks in
the door is sure to breed irritation. Book clubs are meant for discussing
books. But let’s not fool ourselves, they’re also about socializing, and
carving out time for our minds to relax + recharge.
Solution: Incorporate ways to lighten up the meetings. Gag
gifts (possibly related to the book), icebreakers, discuss ideas of what each
of you envision a book club to be, play background music and shut it off to
help create a divide between socializing cocktail hour and time devoted to the
It can get frustrating if you’re hoping to get into a hearty
discussion about a book and the entire time is devoted to jabbing about Laura
Lynn’s new dining room set.
Solution: Here’s another example where a print-out of
discussion questions can help. And the music (see above). Assign everyone a
month when they are to “lead” to help guide conversation. Allot an half hour,
hour, or however long you all agree to visit before then transitioning into
another room (this always works with my clubs…it’s a given when we move from
the kitchen into the living room it’s time to go to the book).
Mayday, mayday, we’ve got a book club takeover on our hands.
She shows up extra early, brings sugar free snacks, then spends the entire
evening interrupting everyone and
preaching her opinions to the group. She might as well be saying, “Off with
Solution: Group dynamics 101. Do you kick her to the curb? Of
course not. But, the Wolf says it’s essential to regroup your group. Begin a
meeting addressing the interruption issue (without pointing fingers). Vary who hosts
or leads the group and have other members demonstrate clarity over who is in
the lead each week. And of course, there’s always direct confrontation which,
when done well, I feel is always best.
So there you have it. Your bloody book club is all tidied
up. Thanks to the this here Book Club Wolf. ;-)
Have you ever
witnessed the fall of a group? Ever put thought into how to make it better? Did
it get better? Worse? Why?
*photo by morguefile