how to: start a book club

When you reach a certain post-college age, it can be difficult to find people to befriend. No longer are you milling around a confined space with all people about your age. No more classes to introduce you to a new crop of people who share your interests every semester, no floating down the dorm hallways looking for open doors, no happening upon a drum circle out on the quad (or was that just my school?). Nope, you have to actually make an effort to find people you want to spend time with. There are lots of meet-ups and activities you can pursue to meet people who share your interests, like dance lessons and knitting circles and cooking classes, but my choice was one that any English major might make:  a book club!

A book club is easy, fun, and (best of all) can be entirely free if you want it to be! Here's what you need to do:

1. Find some friends! Book clubs work best with a mix of people, so encourage your friends to invite their friends along, and everybody will meet someone new!

2. Pick a book Your book club might have a theme or genre, like sci-fi or travel books or books by authors whose names start with "G." Or maybe you'll just read whatever sounds fun!

3. Pick a place and time to meet Rotating between members' apartments is always fun, as is meeting in a coffee shop. We've found that meeting at a book store with a cafe is optimal, because you can get your snacks and beverages and then investigate the shelves to find your next pick!

4. Read!

That's all there is to it! I've borrowed all the books our book club has read from either the library or a friend, so it's only cost me the occasional frappucino (mmm frappucino). We've read a wide variety of books: everything from young adult to nonfiction to modern literary novels. It's a lot of fun to try a new book every month (which seems to be the optimal schedule for our group...enough time for everyone to find and read the book without people feeling rushed or overwhelmed), particularly when it's one you might not have picked yourself.

For bonus points, set up rules. In our club, if you miss a meeting or don't finish a book, your "punishment" is getting skipped when it's your turn to pick a book. It's not much of a punishment since our club has settled into a core group of four, so you're never too far away from your next pick, but it's a nice incentive to make time for reading. In your group, the punishment might be buying the rest of the club cookies.

Our club is a pretty casual read + talk set-up, but it would be a lot of fun to expand the concept: you might have a book & food club where the host prepares a treat inspired by the book or a book & movie club where you watch the film adaptation after you read and discuss the book. The possibilities are endless - the point is hanging out with new friends, thinking and talking about books, and enjoying some new stories!

This month's book is The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, which I just finished last night (it's on the top of the stack in the photo above). We'll be meeting up to talk about it in two weeks, and I can't wait to hear what everyone thinks!

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