Written by Sarah Yoon

Nov 13 ImageYou sit curled in bed with Mockingjay clutched in your hands. Emotions swirl inside your chest. No one at work tomorrow will feel your anguish—but you have to talk about it with someone, right? When I graduated college, my bookish peers suddenly dispersed. The months dragged on, and I needed to create a new community before insanity took over. In response, I started my own book club.

Starting a book club is deceptively simple. Once I stopped procrastinating, I created a Facebook event and compiled an email list from interested friends. For the first meeting we hung out and chose to read The Help by Kathryn Stockett. As we discovered a simple, maintainable system for planning each club hangout, our numbers grew meeting by meeting.

Each meeting follows a relaxed rhythm: we chat for a while, brew tea, and sample a few snacks. Then the person who chose the book leads discussion. After we’ve explored each thematic cranny, we plan for the next meeting by choosing a date, a book, and a person to bring our next three options. The date is easy to decide, since we meet once a month on Fridays, but the next step takes a little more explaining.

Choosing a new book takes group participation. After deciding on the date, put away the planners and pull out the books.
1. Have someone offer three options for everyone to vote on. This person will lead discussion next month on whichever book the club chooses.
2. Know exactly what you’re voting on. Browse Goodreads summaries and reviews so that everyone is on board.
3. Choose a new person to bring viable options next month. Limiting the number to three helps the club avoid waffling, and the vote gives everyone a say in the matter.

Communication just takes a few emails. To keep everyone in the loop, I email everyone with the next month’s plans: date, book, discussion leader, and next chooser. About a week before the event, I send a quick reminder. Especially during the holidays, we enjoy having themed events. Last Halloween featured pumpkin soup in a pumpkin—which had a slight cannibalistic undertone, if you ask me—and the literary mystery The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl.

Jump in and start your own! Pick a date, break out the wine, and enjoy a good book. It’s surprisingly easy to gather friends and build a community. I go clubbing every month—literary clubbing, as the joke goes—and StoryForge will help you along. Keep an eye out for book reviews and discussion prompts from our monthly picks.