5 New Book Clubs (You’ve Never, Ever Heard Of)
Photo: Shannen Norman
What works: Articles about dating, marriage, siblings, family conflicts-anything that lets members weave in personal context to the factual content. One big winner in Goddard’s group was this New York Times modern-love piece about a husband who announced to his wife: "I don’t love you anymore."
What doesn’t work: Articles that have only one argument, such as "too much alcohol is bad for you." Everybody agrees it’s true, and then the discussion pretty much dies.
What works: The Google spreadsheet keeps members connected as they read separately—and gives them a feeling of accomplishment. Sun’s group also inserts a colored bar that marks the end of every reading session and also lists the name of the pizza place they visited. (They check out a different restaurant each time.)
What doesn’t work: Members who read at different speeds. "One of our friends was able to read three books a month, while the rest of us were struggling to finish even one book in the same amount of time," Sun says. "That got discouraging pretty quickly."
What works: Buying your book for the following meeting as soon as the current one ends, eliminating the errand of obtaining the next title and being relaxed about the summer when the group shrivels. ("They come back in the fall," Cory-Watson says. "Promise.")
What doesn’t work: Because of the luscious selection of new releases piled on nearby tables and shelves, you’ll be tempted to buy only recently published titles. But Cory-Watson’s group finds that many of the new books just weren’t strong enough to generate discussion. Now they read a mixture of recent and time-tested titles.
What works: Rotating who chooses the book, so that everyone gets a chance. Also, keeping the book a secret until everybody arrives. (This is not one of those things you want your older brother or grumpy Uncle Boris to weigh in on ahead of time.)
What doesn’t work: Forgetting to put each person’s name in big blocky letters on the title page, leading to books to getting confused, places lost, and irritation to set in.
What works: E-readers help discussion by letting members search by word or phrase—ending the whole frustrating "I know I remember the passage! It was about a rose and dog...like at the end or like at the beginning!" You can also highlight key passages and use Twitter, Facebook, Meetup, Squidoo, Library Thing and other social platforms to discuss books between meetings.
What doesn’t work: Expecting everyone body to have the same e-reader. You can still buy a Kindles Single, no matter what device. It will work just fine.
Next: 9 things never to say in a book club