23 Oct 2011

How to Solve Book Club Challenges

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How to Solve Common Book Club
Challenges: Part I

What are some of the more difficult tasks book clubs face? Choosing what to read may top the list followed by how to organize the discussion and whether to have a leader, what to do with a disruptive member, and deciding where to meet.
There are good resources to resolve these problems, and one we suggest
is the New York Public Library Guide to Reading Groups http://www.amazon.com/Public-Library-Guide-Reading-Groups/dp/0517883570 ). But, in the next few blog posts, we will offer some of our own suggestions on ways to meet these issues head on with strategies for implementation.

How does your book club select the readings?

Do you start by limiting your choices to fiction or non-fiction? Do you pick one book at a time or do you establish a reading list for your season? Is your group flexible and encourage reading that you wouldn’t ordinarily select or do you limit yourselves to contemporary fiction, as an example? Is the purpose of reading as a group more social or intellectual, and does this impact the books you pick?

Regardless of your response, it makes good sense to follow some kind of model. A solid approach is to select the readings in advance for most of your sessions. If you meet year-round, try selecting six books at a time. This eliminates the need to spend much of your time together talking about what you are going to read and allows you to dedicate your meeting to the book at hand. It is helpful to appoint one member as “the keeper of the list,” and this person can document new titles for the next round of
selections. Right now, our reading group has four titles on our “To Be Considered” list:

  • The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes
  • This Beautiful Life by Helen Schulman
  • The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Submission by Amy Waldman

These books were recently reviewed in the New York Times or earned an award (Julian Barneswon the Booker Prize).

What method does your reading group use? Do you think it is working? Let us hear from you.

written by
Lisa Forman Rosen is an avid reader and facilitator of book clubs in Miami, Florida. She has worked at the University of Miami since 1986, first in the Department of English Composition as a lecturer and now at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine as a writer. Lisa created this site to share her love of literature with others and expand the conversation into the virtual world.

2 Comments for“How to Solve Book Club Challenges”

  1. Reply stamp price says:

    i love your blog, i have it in my rss reader and always like new things coming up from it.

  2. Reply Book Club Challenges Part II: The Critics, Prize Winners, and Top Ten Lists | What Smart Women Read says:

    […] an earlier”Book Club Challenges” blog, we spoke about abandoning a book when a reading group, for one reason or another, doesn’t […]

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