11 Ideas for Choosing Your Next Book Club Read
Ready to shake up how your book club chooses the next book? Most book clubs have a set way they select their next reads and it's usually some version of taking turns hosting and suggesting a book. I'm here to suggest you shake things up a bit and try something different for a few times.
ONE - Spend a year (whether that's 4, 6, or 12 meetings) exploring a specific genre: mystery, nonfiction, short stories, WWII history, memoirs, etc. It's a way to get a more varied exposure to a genre and build a solid base for discussion.
TWO - Solicit a recommendation from a librarian or teacher. Sometimes people outside the book group will be reading in a whole different direction and will have an entirely different perspective and suggestions.
THREE - Pick a random year (2012, 1989, 2019, whatever) and read only books published that year. It will be easier to find and access the books because they'll be back list books instead of current, hard-to-get-at-the-library books. The books wouldn't necessarily have to be SET in that year, though that could add another interesting layer to your choices.
FOUR - Read books by a specific author. That allows you the opportunity to thoroughly explore and experience an author's catalog of work and contrast the books with each other. Obviously, it would make sense to choose an author that has a deep enough catalog for the number of your meetings.
FIVE - Spend a year reading prize/award winning books. You can see some complete award lists on this blog in the upper menu under Award Lists. Some of the awards are genre-based so might give you some guidance if you opt for a year of genre-based reading. It might be fun to read from a mix of award winners but there's lots of quality reads to be found in this method of choosing books.
SIX - Why not try reading a book acknowledging or supporting the monthly theme of Black History month, Banned Book week, etc.
January - nothing heritage related, so maybe choose something more frivolous like celebrating National Popcorn Day or Irish Coffee Day or Puzzle Day; or more practically, something set in winter.
February - Black History Month
March - National Women's History Month
April - Poetry month
May - Asian / Pacific Heritage Month
June - LGBTQ Pride month
July - nothing heritage related, but it's the heart of summer, so choose a Beach Read
August - nothing heritage related, so choose something frivolous for summer like a rom-com or a romance
September - Hispanic Heritage Month
October - Banned Book week; LGBTQ history month; Diversity month
November - Native American/Alaska/Hawaiian native month; Nonfiction month
December - nothing heritage related, but the perfect time for a Holiday themed book
SEVEN - Here's a twist on #4 (read one author for multiple meetings). Choose one author and each person read a different book of their choice from that author. This worked well for my book club when I chose Stephen King as our October author. Everyone else in the group had avoided him, thinking they couldn't possibly like anything by a "horror" author. In some cases I recommended a specific book to a specific reader, but I also just had a few that would be a success with most anyone. It was a lively discussion as we explored the different themes in each book, the way King develops characters, etc.
EIGHT - Use your TBR lists to come up with ideas. Each member come to the meeting with a suggestion from their TBR list and the group votes on which one to read. Maybe ask everyone to bring the title of the book that's been on their list the longest or shortest time; the longest (or shortest) book in page count from their list; a book from their TBR recommended to them by a friend, or by an online source, etc. The possibilities are endless.
NINE - Take a page from reading challenges and pick a book in a thoroughly random way - a book with a red cover in February (Valentine's Day), or a book by and author whose last name starts with "S", a novella, a book with recipes in it, or a map in it, or words in a foreign language in the dialog. There are SO many fun ways this could go.
TEN - Read a book set in a different country each meeting for a year. Start with Italy, France, or Germany - those are popular locales and it's easy to find books set there. But, then move further afield and search out books set in Syria, or Nigeria, or Peru, or the Arctic. You'll learn about culture and geography, AND read something amazing.
ELEVEN - Set some themes. At the planning meeting, set out the themes for the upcoming year so you all have plenty of time to research books that might work. Consider themes like trains, book about books, circus, trees/forest, found family, libraries, churches, immigrants, etc. There are lots of directions themes can take you.
Feel free to mix and match these ideas and develop you own way to infuse some excitement into your book selection process. Make it fun. Make it random. Who knows what delights you'll discover!
How does your book club pick books? How large is your group and do you feel like it's too big or too small? Do you actually talk books much or is it more of an opportunity for a social visit? Let me know how your book group works for you.