Ever since I graduated from University I have had a craving to start a book club. After spending 4 years reading and talking about books for academic credit, I was itching to read and talk about books for fun.
But here is the thing with book clubs… They kind of suck. Let me tell you why:
1) You have to buy a new book every month
This isn’t such a bad or outrageous thing but sometimes it’s more important to buy groceries than a new book. Sometimes books are really expensive. Sometimes you buy a book and you find that it is the worst book on the planet but you’ve already paid for it and written your name in the front cover so you can’t even return it and get your money back.
2) If you don’t finish the book then you can’t participate/attend
Life is cray. This is a fact. As hard as we might try, there are days when curling up with a good book just isn’t an option. Then days turn into weeks and before you know it the next book club has arrived and all you know about the thing is the title. Now what? Do you attend but not join in on the conversation, risk discovering major plot points and spoilers? Or do you not go at all? There is no winning in this situation.
3) You read the book but can’t attend the meeting
Before bed, on the train, at the gym you were reading reading reading and then the next meeting is rescheduled last minute and you will be out of town! Well doesn’t that suck. Now you have bought and read this book that you didn’t even really like that much and you can’t attend the book club after all.
I could go on. I won’t, but I could. There are just too many reasons why traditional book clubs don’t work for me. So my friend Kim and I came up with an alternative to the traditional style.
Bring your own book.
This is how it works. Everyone brings a book that they have already read and that they want to recommend to others. At the meeting everyone gets a chance to share (without spoilers) why they are recommending this book. And then everyone trades!
Short on money? No problem. As there is no purchasing. Just borrowing.
Didn’t finish the book before the next meeting? No problem. At the next meeting you can request to keep the same book.
Hated the book and decided not to finish it? No problem. At the next meeting you have the chance to share (without spoilers) why you don’t recommend this book.
Can’t make it to the next meeting? No problem. You can choose to meet up with the person who borrowed your book/whose book you borrowed outside of book club and trade back, or just hang on to the book until you can make it to a meeting again.
The BYOB method solves all the issues that I have with traditional book clubs. The only snag we ran into was that someone brought a book that we had all read. But this will only be an issue for the first meeting. At the next meeting, in addition to bringing back the book you borrowed, you should/can also bring a new book from your own collection to recommend and trade. So after the first meeting there will be more books than people in the rotation. The best part about this system is that you are receiving a recommendation from someone you trust.
Worried about getting your beloved books back? I feel that. I used a google docs spreadsheet to keep track of which books belong to which person and who borrowed the book. I also took down everyone’s phone number and email so that everyone had a means of getting in touch with one another. We also all wrote our names in the front cover of the book. Just in case.
Me and my friends really enjoyed chatting about books in a very relaxed setting for an evening and we can’t wait to have the next meeting.
Do you participate in a book club? Share in the comments!