Whether you’re new to running a book club, or have been meeting with your club for years, it’s important to keep the discussion fresh in order to keep everyone interested in reading the books month after month. There are lots of different things and new ideas you can introduce to your book club, whether it’s to do with the books you choose, the activities you have at your book club, or even what you serve for refreshment during the discussion. Here are our top ideas for book clubs:
1. Theme your food and décor around the book
Reading something set in France? Why not serve French cheese and wine at your book club meeting?! Reading a novel set in south east Asia? Try making your own Asian-style street food – there are plenty of simple recipes online. You could even try serving a food or drink that’s served in the book itself – Chocolat, anyone?
2. Extend the book
Ever read a book and felt like you were left hanging about what happened next in the characters’ lives? You could try imagining your own futures for all your favourite characters, writing them down, and sharing them at your book club meeting. It’s a great way to ignite debate and discussion about effective characterisation.
Imagine your book club book is being made into a movie. Who would play each character? Where would the movie be shot? What kind of director would you choose to direct it? This is a fun and interactive way to discuss how you imagine the characters looking, as well as their mannerisms and style. It can also be fun to revisit with your club if your book is a bestseller which does eventually get made into a film.
This is one for the brave – especially if you’re reading a fantasy novel or a period piece! Arrange with your club to arrive in the costume of the time and place in which your book was set. This is easy to do if the book was set any time in the last fifty years. You could even meet up with your book club members to check out vintage stores and op shops before the meeting.
5. Write to the author
Want to know more about the process that the author went through to write your book club pick? Why not write to them?! Visit your author’s website or look at the ‘About the Author’ page in the book for contact details. The club can vote on a question to ask them, ask for a discussion question direct from the author, or if it’s a local author and you’re feeling lucky, you could even request a Skype chat or a visit!
The idea of a guilty pleasure is one that I think should really be removed from the cultural canon. It says something about the Western world that we can’t simply just enjoy media like books, music, movies , films graphic novels, and all kinds of consumable items without feeling some guilt if we feel like something is ‘beneath us’. What a crock! We shouldn’t be hidden beneath all these layers of irony and ‘aloneness’ so that we strangle the very thing that makes us human – our capability to empathise with other people, enjoy their stories, regardless of their leaning or how we feel about ourselves.
The idea of cultural snobbishness here really speaks volumes about sexism, racism, and classicism in the modern world. Not to get on a pulpit about this, but what’s wrong with reading absolutely anything you like? I remember when the Harry Potter books came out and there were separate printed editions with more ‘adult’ covers, as if this someone make it more acceptable to read Harry Potter as an adult, rather than reading the same book with a cover more targeted towards the target audience. It didn’t even matter anyway – young and old alike read those books, many without any guilt at all. And good for them, I say. No matter what you’re feeling about the books, you can admit that ere shouldn’t be some sort of dividing line between low and high culture, between texts for adults and for young people. Read what you want, and what makes you feel happy – really, this is what it’s all about. The idea of escapism through published works isn’t something evil, and time should be given to every viewpoint when it comes to this. The people who want to escape form their daily troubles and the daily grind should be given their time, and likewise those people who want to feel righteous and like they’re reading something that’s educating and shaking them to their core should read those too. And there should be real interplay between the two crowds! Honestly, if you want to read something, do it.
Nobody is stopping you, except people who have too much time on their hands to dole pout criticism on what you should or shouldn’t be reading. It doesn’t harm anyone else to read what you want and isn’t dumbing down the world as so many would like to attest. Go right ahead.
Having trouble sleeping or relaxing? One thing I’ve found that works wonders for me is reading a good book. Just take the novel that you’re reading at the moment and get stuck in – I’ve always found that books have a truly relaxing quality that not many other things have. From my young years when I was opening random pages of Dune to have a look, to my later years of reading Neuromancer just to get a sense of sameness and ubiquity that would really put me to sleep, I’ve found books to be an invaluable sleeping aid.
There’s even something tactile about them that’s reassuring, friendly and soporific – turning pages, feeling the feel of paper on your hands. Even if I’m going through a second-hand book, it’s easy for me to fall asleep right away when I have good book in my hands. I would really advise you to do the same – grab yourself an excellent book, have a look and have a turn of the pages, really looking at what’s going to help you go to sleep. It’s easy to find a book that’s not even one you would usually read – in fact, they can work just as well. The great idea here is that you’re getting something that would normally b ore you and using it to your advantage – the boredom can really work to your favour, as you’ll be so bored by the book that it’ll put you right to sleep.
The only way this can backfire is if your boredom makes you angry and you get all vexed about how much you dislike it, and then you should really get going on something you like more. A reassuring thing to do is read the book you’ve re-read the most – if indeed that’s what you do – because then you get lulled into sleep by repetition and familiarity, which is what most people love in books.
There’s really something to be said for repetition in literature and its soothing effect on the mind – take a look for yourself, find a copy of something that’s nostalgic and reminds you of days gone by and then just read it! You’ll absolutely love how sleepy and tired it makes you, and it’s a great way to get a good nights’ rest. Take a look for yourself right away – you’ll have an excellent time. It’s easy to do.