I read a surprising blog post about book clubs on ThisIsMySymphony. Surprising how? Well, it was about a book club that despite all the good stuff, ultimately didn't work out and that got me to thinking.
I've been part of a book club for nearly ten years. It's small, perfectly formed and has been an important and regular part of my life throughout that time. I don't know how long the club had been running before I joined, but they were welcoming, friendly, encouraging and managed to make me feel entirely at home almost immediately. Some months later, I described them as the perfect combination of friendly and opinionated.
On looking back, I think a number of things stand out as to why we've lasted:
The structure of book selection means that no-one is personally invested in any book selected. Each member puts forward a list and the full group vote on their selection. Any read previously are vetoed, so that we each read the book from fresh. This allows vastly differing opinions to be expressed without offence being taken over a long-loved favourite.
Everyone has a life - busy ones generally - at times, busier than others. When only one individual is responsible for doing everything, it quickly becomes a burden. If members take a turn, not in strict rotation or anything prescriptive like that, it works. When the ebb and flow of individual lives is respected and adjusted for, the burden, by being handed around, becomes less of a chore.
The book group was set up by one man as part of his recovery from ME/CFS. He decided on the type of group he'd like and he's done a damn good job in selection. The fact that such a disparate group of ages, backgrounds and professions has blended so well is testament to that.
If you're considering starting up a book group, give it a go. Decide what you want, set the tone and then let your group share the load. You've not much to lose and you may make some good friends!