My book club celebrated its eighth anniversary last October. We organized ourselves when our church initiated a plan to form small groups to help the congregation get to know one another. I chose to join the group because of my interest in books and my fond memories of another book group that no longer meets. The Wesley Memorial Book Club brought together a dozen or so women who were acquainted but didn’t necessarily know one another well. We established an informal structure for our meetings. We meet once a month except for December and have only two rules. They are:
1. You don’t have to read the book to attend the meetings.
2. No homemade refreshments are allowed.
We wanted our meetings to be about the books and not a competition for gourmet snacks. This structure has served us well. We don’t love all the books we read but we always have fun discussing them. In fact, some of our best discussions are about the books nobody liked. I’ve read titles that I would never have chosen for myself and my favorite part of the meeting is the discussion about what else everybody is reading. We all go away from the meetings with lists of good books to read.
As the resident librarian, I place holds on the books because several members of the book club read copies from the library. One of our charter members suggested that we collect a quarter from each member every month and donate the proceeds to the “Buy-A-Book” program at JMRL (http://jmrl.org/pdf/buyabook.pdf). When the money in our collection box reaches $25 we make a donation to the library. Over the years we’ve donated money for books at Central, Gordon and Northside. It’s a small way to show our appreciation to the library. If you want to organize a book club, I encourage you to do it. There are resources available at the library and online to help you get started. If you are currently in a book club, consider adopting our model by making a donation to JMRL.