Five Innovative Book Club Ideas

Posted by Sarah Davis

If you’re a reader and a reader of this blog, chances are you have considered joining or are part of a book club. What better way to find your new favorite book and your new best friend than in a group of people that read and talk for fun?

However, sometimes book clubs can get a little stale. I’ve been running one for seven years, and know first hand that there can be dips in membership, interesting conversation and ideas. What do you do when you don’t really want to sit in someone’s apartment and discuss the most recent John Grisham novel? Below are a few creative takes on the simple book club.

Bookstore Book Clubs: What better place to facilitate a book club than a bookstore?
WORD Brooklyn is an awesome bookstore in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, and a great example of bookstore book clubs. Nearly every weekend of every month they are running a book club for their patrons. There is a Classic Book Group, that reads on a yearly theme (such as novellas or Russian lit). They also have a Music Writing Group and Romance Novel Group.
Having a bookstore provide niche book groups fosters a strong community rooted in their brick and mortar store, and brings together people with already similarly established book tastes. As bookstores find themselves more and more reliant on the community in which they reside, I imagine there will be a rise in book clubs at book stores.
Citywide Book Clubs: Not content to draw in a few members of the community, the library in Walnut Creek, CA choose one book a year for the entire city to learn about and enjoy. The One City, One Book program pick a book at the beginning of the summer and after giving people the time to acquire and read the book, finish up the year with discussions and events pertaining to the book. Now in its seventh year, the book club has allowed the community to participate on a much larger scale than any normal book club. Other small cities could (and should!) easily follow suit.
Classroom Immersion: If you ever took a liberal arts class in college, you remember the pain from a discussion that lacked any actual talking. Your poor, underpaid TA would attempt to start a conversation about the reading material and be met with long, awkward silences. Yet what are book clubs really but the discussion class outside of college?
Lately innovative teachers and professors are reaching out to local book clubs to get their help. The book clubs read the book(s) read for a classroom discussion, then attend the class to help encourage and stimulate discussion. Think of it as a service project for book clubs.
Online Book Clubs: Kids these days with their internet. It’s like they do everything online! And book clubs are no exceptions.
People form a community, either on Goodreads, Twitter or on their own created website to read and discuss a book. One of the most famous online forums was Infinite Summer, a project started in 2009 to read and discuss Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace across a variety of online platforms. But there are literally hundreds out there, all waiting for smart, insightful comments.
Book-a-Month Club: One of the hardest part of a book club is choosing a book to read. However, there are plenty of groups out there that will send you a book each month for a (sometimes not so small) fee. There is also usually a website forum to discuss the book after you read it with other people who subscribe to the same service. This provides you a ready made book and group. And if you don’t like it, you can always blame someone else.
Book clubs can go much further than the standard read-a-book-then-talk-about-it format. Get involved in a book club today, and happy reading!