These book club ideas will revitalize your meetings, whether you’re reading nonfiction books, novels, poetry, classics, or award winning Pulitzer prize-winning authors. Included is an invitation from an author who wants to be present at your next book club meeting!
Room: A Novel by Emma Donoghue has been my favorite book to discuss at our meetings. I love this book because there’s so much to talk about, and the characters are so interesting. Not to mention the lot and theme! Your search for book club ideas isn’t as important as finding really good books to discuss with your fellow readers.
In How to Start a Book Club, I shared many tips for launching your new group – but I didn’t include book club ideas. That’s what we’re doing now! If you have any really good book club ideas (even if you don’t think your ideas are that great), please share below.
The Really Good Book Club Ideas
Paint your perspective of the book. In one of my social work classes, we had to draw, paint, or otherwise color our feelings about a client we were working with. It was really interesting to see what people came up with – and I think it’d be fascinating to see how our fellow book club members would portray the book, characters, theme, and plot. You don’t need to be a great artist to try this idea for book clubs…you just need to be brave and willing to take risks in front of your friends.
Alternate “theme” months with “book” months. I co-facilitate a monthly book club at the Summerhill Retirement Residence in North Vancouver, BC. The North Vancouver City Library runs this book club, and provides us with stacks of books to read every month. Our style is different because we alternate how we read every month. One month, we all read different books on the same theme – for instance, last month we all read books about animals. Then, during the book club, we share the book we read. Sort of like a book report, without the pressure. The next month, we’ll all read the same book. This month we read The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve. This is a good book club idea because our reading and discussions are always fresh.
If your book club has a hard time choosing books to read, check out Amazon’s Book Club Picks.
Start your meeting with a question related to the book. When we discussed The Weight of Water by Anita Shreve (another awesome pick for book clubs), I asked each member to share an experience related to water. Our ladies discussed their memories of waterskiing, parasailing, almost drowning, and coming to Canada from England as war brides. It was a really cool way to get to know each other better, which is why I think this is a good book club idea.
Ask book club members to bring an item to book club that reminds them of the book. One of our members is a teacher, and she had this fantastic book club idea. She asked everyone to bring an item that we thought was related to the book. She discreetly collected those items and put them in a cloth bag. We then passed the bag around, withdrew an item, and tried to guess why and how the item related to the book. It was a really good idea for book club because it was so interesting to pull unknown objects out of the bag, and try to figure out how they related to the book! This would be a really interesting idea for a book like Necessary Lies by Diane Chamberlain.
Invite spouses or partners to a meeting. Ask your partner to read the book club’s pick for the month, and join book club for a special meeting. You might also consider inviting kids or pets – my two dogs have joined several of my book club meetings, and while they aren’t always the best idea, they always leave interesting memories
Highlight the author during book club meetings. This is one of my absolute favourite ways to “discuss” a book – make it more about the author than the book. Show YouTube or other interview clips of the author discussing the book, read snippets from the author’s website, dig up old blog posts, share online newspaper or magazine articles about the author. As a writer, I’m endlessly curious about authors of books, which is why I think this is a really good book club idea.
Play a movie in the background while you discuss the book. When we read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in my Bookworms book club, we showed Leonardo diCaprio’s movie version of The Great Gatsby. It brought the costumes and era alive for us in a whole new way.
Start a Facebook page or WordPress blog for your book club. When I lived on Bowen Island, our book club’s most different idea was a Facebook page. It didn’t really take off, unfortunately. Everyone was too busy to go to the Facebook page and share updates, opinions of the book, etc. But it could be a good book club idea if the members are online a lot.
Involve food that is related to your book during book club. If you’re reading Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave (one of my favorite book club reads!), plan a potluck that revolves around African or even Nigerian food. If you’re reading Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, go out for an Italian dinner and have your book club there (what book club hasn’t had this idea? Pardon me.).
Invite the author to your book club. Here’s a really cool email (and a really good book club idea!) from John Searles, author of Help for the Haunted: Beginning today and going all the way through next July 2015, I will Skype/Facetime/call and even visit in person when possible one book club in every state across the country to discuss Help for the Haunted. If I am able to talk with one book club from each state by July 31, 2015, the first book club I met with in each state will be sent a complete library of my novels as well as a swag-bag filled with my favorite book club books published by William Morrow! Be the first to sign up your state and your book club right now!
Here’s how this book club idea will unfold, should you choose to accept the challenge:
- Choose Help for the Haunted: A Novel as your book club’s next read.
- Sign up your book club to Skype with John Searles about his novel, here.
- If you are the first book club from your state to sign up, John will reach out to you to set up a time to Skype.
- Based on John’s schedule, he will also chat with as many additional book clubs as possible! He’ll email you directly as soon as he can.
If John completes the challenge he’s set for himself – to Skype with a book club in each of the 50 states between July 15, 2014 and July 31, 2015 – then the first book club from each state will receive copies of Strange But True and Boy Still Missing (John’s two earlier novels) for each member of the book club, plus a tote bag full of John’s favorite book club books. How’s that for the last really good idea for your book club?
I’d add “dress up as a character in your book” if I didn’t think it was a book club idea that has been done over and over. What do you think of these ideas for book clubs? Comments welcome below…