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by the book how to start a book club |  1 2 3 4
continued from page 1

The word "club" connotes something organized to me, like those extracurriculars everyone pads their resumes with in high school, so I suppose in my mind, my book club isnít a club at all, more like a gathering. True, we meet on a more or less regular schedule Ė one meeting every two months, rotating the location around each of our houses Ė but what we do when we meet is actually somewhat hard to describe. Thereís plenty of good wine and tasty snacks, maybe a gourmet pizza if people have come straight from work without having had dinner first. And thereís music Ė everything from classical and jazz to So-Cal ska, maybe mellow ambient or funky Japanese electronica (if it happens to be at my house, anyway). No one really leads the discussion, so itís a wonder we ever get around to talking about the chosen book at all, but eventually, after catching up a bit on each otherís lives, someone starts in with the book talk, and the rest quickly jump in. Mostly, I suppose, our book club gatherings are half wine party, half salon, with a little bit of good olí girlie slumber party ambience thrown in for good measure, especially when the night gets long.

how to start a book club
The ideal number for a book club, I think, is somewhere between 6 and 12 Ö not so small as there are likely to be frequent lapses in the conversation, not so big that itíll be impossible to sustain a single, focused discussion. Basically, you should all be able to sit around a circle in your living room and not have to shout at each other in order to be heard.

The best place to start is, of course, by asking your friends to see if any of them are actually interested. Even if most of your friends greet your query with a skeptical, "Ummm, gee, I donít really have time for that right now," sort of excuse, youíre bound to turn up at least one or two buddies who are as excited about talking books as you are. And while 3 members donít exactly a club make, you can tell your two interested friends to then ask their friends. And if they can each find 2 interested friends each, presto! Youíre set Ė youíre ready to get reading.

Remember that itís best to get a group of people that represent a range of different backgrounds and viewpoints, to ensure nice, lively discussions, so donít worry if you have to move beyond your usual social circle in order to find willing participants. Post a flyer at your favorite bookstore, coffeehouse, used CD store if need be. Half the fun of a book club is that it gives you a chance to make new friends.

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