Show of hands, how many of y’all are in a book club (you know, in real life?) How many of you book clubbers get sweaty palms just thinking about the pressure that comes with choosing the next read for your club? Fear not, my friends, today I’m providing you with a handy cheat sheet for selecting a winning book!
1. Choose a book with your club in mind. This seems pretty obvious, but hear me out. My neighborhood book club is a group of women in their 30s, most of whom have children. If you want to choose a book that encourages conversation, pick something your crew can relate to. I know that my neighbors are more likely to engage with a book that discusses family dynamics than they would with a history of the fall of Rome. That’s not to say that variety shouldn’t be encouraged, but a book club is something people do for fun. I always try to find a book that the majority of the group won’t view as a chore. (IE, If I’ve got a hankering for an epic war saga, I usually save that to read on my own time.)
2. Look for a book club guide in the back of the book. If you’re unsure of a book, flip to the back. Tons of books these days include reader’s guides and discussion questions designed specifically for book clubs. It’s a good indication that the book will spur some lively conversation. Plus, you don’t want to deal with coming up with your own discussion questions (ain’t nobody got time for that!) these guides are a huge time saver. Some books, like, oh, I don’t know, Little Mercies, for example, have an entire book club kit you can access online. How sweet is that?! Especially if you don’t want your only question to be “how much did you want to punch this character?” Not that I know anybody who asks some variation of that question in nearly every online book club she holds, or anything…
3. Keep it short. As much as I absolutely adore Diana Gabaldon’s 850 page chunksters, it’s not cool to ask your book club to chew through a book that size in a month. You might be the speediest reader in all the land, but picking a book over 500 pages is a pretty huge time commitment for those in the club who might not read at breakneck speeds. The longer the book, the less likely the group will have finished it, and THAT is a serious discussion killer.
4. Don’t panic if you pick a dud. It happens to the best of us, kiddos. Sometimes despite your best efforts, the book you choose will flop. It’s rare that I choose a book that I’ve already read, so the suck factor is always a risk. It’s okay! If your book club is full of folks you like and respect (and I hope that it is!) they’ll understand. You’ll laugh about it and drink a little more wine. No big deal.
5. Check out some book blogs. Ah, shameless self promotion. You saw that coming, right? Seriously though. If you poke around in the book blogosphere a little bit, you can discover a ton of great titles you may not have heard of otherwise. PLUS, if you can find a blogger whose tastes jive with that of your book club, you can trust their recommendations.
What say you, Bookworms? Have you got any tips for the masses on how to choose a fantastic book for book club?
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