How To Book Club: A Beginner's Guide to the Literary Scene

Have you ever just finished a great book only to realize that there is no one around to talk about it with? Have you ever wanted to gush over certain parts of the book that only someone who had read it would understand? You’re not alone! This problem does have a solution, and that solution is called BOOK CLUB!

Now when you think of book club you might think of two things; one, a bunch of mom’s gathering for coffee to talk about the newest fifty shades book or two, a scholarly discussion on the best novels of our time. Now the second option can be very intimidating to someone who has never gone to a book discussion before and can raise many concerns.

Am I smart enough?

Do I have interesting opinions?

Is someone going to judge me for what I say?

These are all common things to worry but we are here to assure you that book discussions are for EVERYONE! Today we will be going through all the ways to tackle that book club fear so that you can have the most enjoyable book club experience possible!

 

HOW TO PREPARE

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First rule of book club is always come prepared (or is that the boy scouts? Either way come prepared!). When you read a book it can be easy to either get lost in all of the different thoughts you have, or become so intimidated by speaking that you forget what you’re going to say. While you don’t have to prepare for a book discussion (this isn’t college), you might find it helpful to jog your memory!

Tab/Annotate Your Books

With so much discussion happening, it can be hard to remember exactly what you want to say during a book discussion. Use tabs as a way of marking everything in your book that you want to talk about during the discussion.

If you want, you can even annotate your books with your reactions so that you remember not only what you wanted to talk about, but what you want to say!

PRO TIP: Use different colored tabs for different talking points (plot, characters, writing, themes, etc.)

Read/Watch Author Interviews

What better way to gain insight on a book than listening to the author themselves? Reading/watching author interviews can give you a feel as to how people are receiving the book and further background on the book that will aid your understanding in any discussion!

Read Online Reviews

How to Bookclub/ Fitchburg State Community Read

PC: Goodreads

Online reviews are like mini book discussions. From other people’s reviews you can learn themes that you might not have picked up on the first time, and can then revisit the book to form new thoughts and ideas for your discussion. These reviews often have plot summaries, so if you don’t have time to do a re-read, these reviews can jog your memory!

PRO TIP: Go to goodreads.com to read hundreds of reviews on all your favorite books, then join the discussion and post a review of your own!

Brush Up On Your History

Whether it’s fiction or non-fiction, literary or fantasy, it is always important to consider books in relation to when they take place and when they are written. Brushing up on the historical context of your book can create discussion about not only the book itself but how it relates to present day.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Many people may feel intimidated going into a book discussion because they don’t know what to expect out of the event. But I’m here to reassure you that there is nothing to fear! Book discussions are educational, exciting, and most importantly, friendly. These are some things you should expect out of most book discussions:

Facilitator

How to Bookclub/ Fitchburg State Community Read

Whenever you attend a book club/book discussion there is likely going to be a facilitator, a person who leads the meeting and keeps the discussion flowing. Roles of the facilitator include making sure everyone gets to speak, keeping the conversation civil, and providing prompts so that a lull in conversation does not occur.

Open Layout

 A photo from the Leominster Public Library Book Discussion

A photo from the Leominster Public Library Book Discussion

Book discussions are not like college where you get lectured at from the front of a classroom. During a book discussion you are usually put in a circle or some formation where you can see everyone participating. This sets up a friendly atmosphere where no one is above anyone else.

Interject When Appropriate

 A photo of community members engaging in debate during a book discussion at the Leominster Public Library

A photo of community members engaging in debate during a book discussion at the Leominster Public Library

Again, book discussions are not in a classroom setting so don’t always feel like you have to raise your hand. While you to be rude and interrupt people, feel free to interject your opinion on a topic when someone is done speaking. Feel free to speak your mind but also make sure that you are not monopolizing the discussion.

MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR EXPERIENCE

Book discussions are fun, educational, and interactive. This is one of the only places you can discuss a book with a bunch of other people who have also read that book! Here are a few tips on how to make the most out of this valuable experience:

Take Notes

How to BookClub/Fitchburg State Community Read

We know you’re not prepping for a big test, but we strongly encourage you to take notes on the discussion. By taking notes you are showing the other readers that you really value what they are saying and it is also a great way to remember these conversations long after the discussion is over.

Speak Up!

 Fitchburg State University students engaging with community members

Fitchburg State University students engaging with community members

While we encourage you to take notes, remember to balance note taking with participating in discussion. If there are a lot of people in the discussion don’t feel too intimidated to speak, everyone else probably feels that way too! Don’t be afraid to bring something up that no one has talked about or to disagree with someone- you could be bringing up something unique that no one has thought of before. And most importantly remember that your opinion is valid and deserves to be heard!

Listen for Future Discussions

Book discussions are a great way to meet fellow book-lovers! Most discussions will likely try to advertise their next discussion, so make sure you keep your ears open in case you want to attend the next one. Book discussions are a great way to make friends and keep your brain active.

PRO TIP: If you live in the Fitchburg Area follow @fitchburgreads on Twitter and Instagram for upcoming book discussion dates in the Fitchburg area!


Now that you know what to prepare for, what to expect, and how to benefit from a book discussion we know you are ready to kick some book-club butt! Remember that book club’s are all about sharing a common love of reading, so remember to relax, read, interact, and be inspired!


 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Fitchburg Community Read