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When I moved to California a little over three years ago I knew I wanted to find a way to send a bat signal to find my nerdy book lovers in my new town. The fastest way for me to do that is to offer a monthly book club and so I started one by spreading the word of it where I go to church. I didn't want to do a church or religion specific book club though, but my religion is a big part of the community I have because I'm rather a recluse and excel at being a homebody, so those are the people I see regularly.
Having had some less than stellar book club experiences in the past, I wanted to establish the rule that this was mostly a club for book lovers, rather than a book club where we'd have questions and had to stay on topic and there was pressure to finish the book every month. That just stresses me out and makes me angsty. Our club has been going for over two years now and it's mostly a social group with a book emphasis to get the conversation going. Our regulars are in different stages of life but we all have a common interest in books and, as many book lovers will agree, we like learning things and exploring parts of the world and ideas without having to go anywhere. It's become a lot of fun, and I look forward to our monthly outing for the conversation and social time as much as for the book chat that starts us off.
In the past we've always chosen specific titles for each month and it's worked out ok, but we decided on doing something different this year that I'm excited about. We're adopting the idea of book challenge prompts or themes for each month instead of a particular title we all have to read. This is cool to me because it will allow us each to choose what we want to read within that month's theme, we'll learn about more books when we meet and other people have read different things, and we'll have more to talk about and broaden each others reading horizons. I think it's going to work out pretty well.
I always love a book task, whether or not anyone's asked me to do one, so I gave myself a challenge to post some suggestions each month here for the prompt/monthly theme that we picked to share with the group and with you. It'd be an easy challenge to join in on and I'd love to have a discussion of topics here as well. I'll be sure to report back each month too about what we each read, thought, learned, and discovered, but I really think this is an awesome way to have a welcoming and inclusive, low-pressure book group!
Here's our list:
February - read a book written by an African American author
March - read a classic you have not gotten to yet
April - read a collection of poetry
May - read a book written by a female author with a positive maternal figure or about a mother
June - read a children's book
July - re-read a favorite book
August - read a book by an Indigenous author
September - read a book by a Hispanic author
October - read a thriller/mystery/ghost story
November - read a historical fiction novel
December - read a biography or memoir
Have you been a part of an in-person book club before? I'd love to hear what you do or what you're looking for if that's something you'd like to add to your reading life. I'd encourage you to start one if you're interested too! It's a lot of fun. Book people are the best people!
I'm working on a post about a couple of my favorite online book clubs, so stay tuned for that!