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Books/book club

How to start a bookclub

(25 Posts)
gillybob Wed 21-Sep-16 11:57:54

We have a brand new community centre just beside where I live which was gifted by the builders. There is a generous start up budget. Just before it opened the residents were asked to give ideas of what they would like to see/do in the new centre. I said I would like a bookclub. I then received an email asking if I would like to meet the manager to discuss this further. I popped in last night and we chatted about how it might work and he said he would leave it with me and look forward to hearing back with my ideas.

Now I am totally out of my depth as I don't think I have the confidence to "run" anything. My DH said it's right up my street and I should go for it. I think I make a better follower than leader but would so much like to see this take off.

Anyway does anyone have any ideas how this would work? How do you make any money? (we would need to be able to pay a small rent on the room eventually) how do you choose the books? how do you buy the books? etc.

Riverwalk Wed 21-Sep-16 12:22:58

Gilly bookclubs are great - mine has been going for about 15 years! But we meet in each others' home so I don't really know about raising funds for the use of the room.

I'm just wondering why you would need to pay for the room if it's a community facility and the bookclub would be not-for-profit, I assume?

Just going out, so will come back later to say how our club works.

gillybob Wed 21-Sep-16 12:28:49

Well we are trying to build a community River. The community centre is a beautiful new building but so far much underused except for a couple of fitness classes. The estate I live on has a really good mix of family homes, starter homes, apartments and bungalows too so we are looking at ways to bring various age groups together. There is a fund in place to keep the building running (heating, lighting, manager, maintenance etc.) for approximately 2 years but it needs to be self sufficient after that. Room rental will be minimal.

Aurelia Wed 21-Sep-16 12:33:13

I think everyone buys their own books don't they?

You could give everyone a turn at selecting the book for the next meeting, or compile a list of possible books and let everyone vote?

Perhaps hold a coffee morning to get funds for rent, or if you have a community fair in the new Centre the book club could have a stall to raise funds. If the rent is low, members could pay a sub each month to cover the rent.

suzied Wed 21-Sep-16 12:37:31

My book club meets once a month in a pub. We take it in turns to choose a book, though we have to suggest 2, talk about each of them and why we would like to read it etc, then everyone votes on which one to choose. At the meeting the chooser talks about what they liked/ didn't like about the book, then the discussion just gets going. At the end of the discussion , usually about an hour, we give the book the thumbs up or thumbs down. The leader sends out an email summarising the thoughts of the meeting so if anyone didn't come they know about the book. Also they know the next book choices. We meet the last Wednesday of the month, we have about 14 members and usually about 6-8 turn up. So you don't feel you always have to attend. We buy/ order book from library/ our own copy of the book. We work 2 months ahead, so we know the next 2 choices.

Jane10 Wed 21-Sep-16 12:41:02

Our libraries have a large supply of books that can be borrowed by book clubs. One person has to go and pick up the set of books the members have chosen and return them a month later. System seems to work very well.

rubysong Wed 21-Sep-16 13:26:50

Hi Gilly. Good luck with your book club, I'm sure you will make a success of it, organisation can be kept to a minimum. Why not start with a coffee morning at the centre to get like minded people together. You will need to choose a day which is going to suit everyone for monthly meetings. We buy our own books but only have books which are out in paperback. They can be bought from charity shops, eBay etc, got from the library or borrowed from friends. We try to plan four or five months ahead to give ourselves time to get our books and we don't have very long books as we won't have time to read them. It's a great way to make new friends. We are all female as we discovered we like a different kind of book to the men, also people who have gone to mixed groups found the men hogged the conversation. I'm sure you can get lots of book suggestions from GN if you wish.

rubysong Wed 21-Sep-16 13:35:01

Me again! I was just thinking about the other activities we have in our very popular village hall, which may be useful for your community centre. Pre-school and toddler group are popular, also short mat bowls. Why not start a WI or community choir. We have a visit from a chiropodist which is appreciated and a fortnightly lunch club for over 60s. There is also a drama group working on a pantomime, a flower arranging club with lovely demonstrations and squash one evening. We have been having monthly coffee mornings in the village church (not just for the churchgoers). The main thing is to get people together and out of their houses. Good luck with building your community.

Luckygirl Wed 21-Sep-16 13:38:14

I help run a local book club which meets monthly - in the pub. We got in touch with the library and they run a book club scheme. They send you a list of books that you can choose from and you indicate what you would like - you have to chose many more than the months in the year as they have lots of book clubs to cater for. Then you get a list of which books you will get each month - all you then have to do is pick up a box containing the set of books for that month and distribute them to members.

We are a bit of a one-horse rural place here, so if our library does it then I am sure lots of others do too.

Good luck!

SueDonim Wed 21-Sep-16 13:53:30

Lots of great ideas here! I've set up book groups, although we've met in each other's homes, not in a public building.

We having an annual planning meeting where we each bring two books and one gets selected for the year's programme. We don't give a thumbs up/down, though - that sounds intimidating!

The 'rules' for book choices are that they must be available in paperback, still in print and that the suggested has actually read the book, otherwise you can end up with a real turkey. grin

We don't use the service ourselves but our local library has multiple copies of some books which they lend out.

I'd definitely start out with a coffee event to chat about what you want to do. You'll probably get someone who says 'Oh but I only want to read romance/factual/SciFi books'. The answer to that is always that joining a book group is to widen your reading matter and broaden your experience.

As for raising funds, making a small charge might work? Or if someone can house the boxes, having some second hand books available which people can buy can make a bit of money.

Good luck!

gillybob Wed 21-Sep-16 14:00:12

Thank you all for some wonderful suggestions. I really appreciate it. I'm still not sure I have the confidence to do it but I feel sure it would work especially after reading all these good tips. the centre manager said he has a small budget for the initial leafleting and can even provide the people to post the leaflets. My biggest fear is that no-one turns up.

SueDonim Wed 21-Sep-16 14:05:39

People will turn up, I'm sure, and in any case, if no one does, no one else will know! grin

Luckygirl Wed 21-Sep-16 14:23:46

Maybe you could see what the local library has to offer in the way of a book club scheme - then you would have that to bring to the meeting.

suzied Wed 21-Sep-16 18:58:16

Have you got a local forum so you can post a message with an email where people can contact you. Then you'd have an idea who is likely to turn up.? Facebook have local groups.

Jane10 Wed 21-Sep-16 21:13:37

Try I think there's one in most areas.

rosesarered Wed 21-Sep-16 21:24:59

Have been a member of lots of book clubs over the years, but the best has been meeting in members homes (Rather than pub) and not reading and talking about one particular book, but all bringing a book that we have read (at any time in the past) and talking about it briefly.I have read many good books this way, and it's all informal, and without the pressure of having to read a particular book that month.There were only about a dozen of us though, so a small book club.

gillybob Wed 21-Sep-16 22:36:53

It has to be in the community centre roses as we are trying to build a community . There are also a small amount of funds available via the trust for publicity etc. so could do a leaflet drop. I don't do Facebook suzied but I would imagine that the community centre might have their own page set up. Will have a look at street life Jane10

Thank you all again. smile

Riverwalk Thu 22-Sep-16 08:06:44

We almost always choose paperbacks and usually not one that's been read before, and yes that has resulted in a couple of turkeys but that's part of the fun!

As we meet in our homes, whoever is hosting will have chosen the book about two months ahead.

Many paperbacks have 'Book club' questions for discussion at the back, or you can Google some, so you can print off and issue them on the night, just to get the conversation going. So everyone gets the chance to say something you could start off by giving a few of your own opinions and then go around the group.

For the first book I would choose say something that won a prize/shortlisted last year so it will be easy to get and in paperback. As you're the instigator gilly you could host the first one, by choosing the book and organising biscuits, etc. The next person does the same, that way there is some responsibility on each person eventually, and you don't get lumbered with it all!

We give a mark out of 10 (and boy do the marks vary!)

rosesarered Thu 22-Sep-16 10:24:01

Oh sorry Gillybob forgot about the community centre, I guess the bookclub could become quite large in that case, or would you set a number and try and keep to it?

MaggieMay60 Thu 22-Sep-16 10:43:06

I run a book club through our local library, it was really easy to set up. it depends which area you live in as to what the library rules are. some charge a small yearly subscription, ours doesn't at the moment, however that may change in the future. Limit your group to no more than 10 people as you may have difficulty in borrowing more than that if you are borrowing from the library. keep a list of the books that you are lending out to your members, this is easy enough to do as most of the library books will have some sort of identification code, this makes it easy to identify a missing book if you incur a fine and the offender should pay the charge. once you have chosen your first couple of titles and the group is up and running, ask your member to list 3 books that they would like to read and then you will have a list of books to work through. and don't forget the Cake!!! We have a rota so that each member takes a turn for refreshments. We normally give our books a thumbs up or a thumbs down. enjoy.

MaggieMay60 Thu 22-Sep-16 10:48:46

just a thought as a fundraising get together, why don't you run a quiz night once a month as these usually appeal to a broad range of people from all ages and don't normally cost much to set up and are good income generators. £1 a head is a normal charge and a raffle.

JackyB Thu 22-Sep-16 12:03:42

For fundraising you could hold a book flea market. This could just be a table at the meetings where everyone donates books and puts in 10p for every book they take from the stall. This could also be extended to open days or fetes.

Nandalot Thu 22-Sep-16 12:30:36

Like many others on here, our book club is supported by our local library who for £30 a year provide a huge list of books that we can choose from. That's NOT £30 each by the way so brilliant value. So worth checking with your library first. Also a good place to put up posters.
It sounds like you can have the community centre free at the start so you can find out what the interest is. If it's viable then why not charge a small monthly fee? If the rent is minimal that should cover it.
Any local authors who might do a book reading/ chat/ signing for the launch and then you could sign up those interested?
Formats of groups vary from very formal to ones like ours. We just start with someone who feels strongly and take it from there. In other groups the person who chose the book leads the discussion. Also helpful are some authors' websites which provide a list of questions suitable for book groups. ( These can sometimes be found in the backs of books too). Good luck.

SueDonim Thu 22-Sep-16 13:33:39

You're right, Riverwalk, a turkey can actually be good! We read a terrible book last year, a sort of romance set in Pakistan, full of 'glittering eyes' and 'soulful glances' and so on. Despite the terrible plot, characters and writing, it provoked a very interesting discussion about religion and women's role in society.

Jane10 Thu 22-Sep-16 13:56:49

I've done a fair few talk to various book clubs. There always seems to be a lovely atmosphere. One of the most memorable was called 'The book and a blether' group -each session kicks off with a fish supper!
Wet wipes in profusion needless to say. What a laugh it all was.