by Shanyn Hosier
Book clubs are freaking awesome. If you don’t have one, GET one! I’ve been a member of three of them and loved every minute. I can’t recommend them highly enough, but there are some etiquette guidelines I’ve found to be universal.
1. Choose your book with consideration. I once inflicted James Michener’s The Source on a book club. And they forgave me, bless them! As a person who devours epic sagas and multi-book series like Joey Chestnut plows through hot dogs, I have to remember to rein myself in. Not everyone has my disciplined method of ignoring family and housekeeping for days at a time.
2. Bring consumables. The best book clubs are brimming with snacks. Can’t discuss character development and plot arcs on an empty stomach. Doesn’t matter what time of day you meet, food is imperative. Recruit at least one compulsive/habitual baker to your group.
3. Don’t limit your conversation. One of the best parts of book club chat is the amazing tangents we hare off on. The juiciest gossip can’t hold a candle to the questions of ethics, science, religion, social policy, and personal history we’ve delved. Two hours once a month never feels sufficient.
4. Find a cozy place to meet. “Virtual” book clubs are better than nothing, but actually hanging with your book buddies is best. Especially at a place that serves pastry and coffee (extra bonus: no one has to clean their house beforehand). Carbs, caffeine, and chick lit (or chocolate, if you’re higher-brow) are a perfect combo.
5. Try something new. I started out in a sci-fi phase. Then I used to think I only liked literary classics. My book clubs taught me I’m a genre slut—erm, I meant to say open-minded—I like anything! My current book club is committed to reading stuff we’d never otherwise choose on our own, and it’s working out great. This past year, we read Peter Rock’s My Abandonment, Kate Walbert’s A Short History of Women, Chris Cleave’s Little Bee, and Hugh Howey’s Wool (Guess who picked that 5-book saga? Yep, guilty as charged. I never learn.)
6. Show up, even if you didn’t read the book. Also, get over your aversion to spoilers. If you like the story, knowing the ending shouldn’t matter. Be honest—you’ve probably already seen it coming.
7. Booze it up? I have yet to consume alcohol at a book club meeting, but that streak’s about to end next week. We’ll be eating pizza, drinking wine, and dishing about Crime and Punishment. Think a little red will help Dostoyevsky go down any easier?
What’s your favorite part about book club? Ignore Brad Pitt and share your story in the comments 🙂