Book Clubs Provide Social, Intellectual and Health Benefits

Book Clubs

Looking for People on the Same Page? Join a Book Club

Belonging to a book club can stretch you in many ways in addition to being fun.

You may challenge your mind. You may argue. You may make a friend. Belonging to a book club can stretch you in many ways in addition to being fun.

If you live alone, book clubs are a great social outlet and can help you stay mentally active after retirement. If you’re prone to depression, a reading group can keep you engaged with others. Stimulating your brain cells may even help to protect against or delay memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease, studies suggest. Plus, book clubs provide entertainment that’s easy on the budget and can introduce you to terrific books you wouldn’t pick up on your own.

Start your own

You might be able to hook up with an existing book club through your library, a friend or local bookstore. If not, consider creating your own.

Start building your group with a few like-minded friends who enjoy reading and share your interests. Think about the kind of members you want. Only women? Just seniors? A diverse mix? You can recruit people by posting ads at libraries, bookstores or your church or synagogue. Shoot for six to eight members to start, but not more than a dozen. A large club does not give everyone a chance to share their thoughts.

If you want the group to focus only on nonfiction or classics, let potential members know that before they commit. You can make other decisions at your first meeting, such as how the discussion will be run and what is expected from members. You can even give your book club a name to give people a greater sense of belonging.

Your new club will need to agree on some basics:

  • Where will you meet? You can gather in members’ homes on a rotating basis. Others prefer to meet at a coffee house. Your local library or senior center may also have a room that’s available to you.
  • How often will you meet and when? Set a regular date and time, such as the first Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m. Include an “end time” to keep the discussion from wandering. An hour and a half works well for many groups.
  • Book criteria. Some clubs only select books out in paperback to reduce member costs. Or groups may choose to focus on current bestsellers, American novels, books about history or family themes.
  • Choosing a title. Some groups vote on each book they will read. Other clubs let the host for that meeting choose the book. You can also draw on recommended lists that your library or bookstore can provide. The best books for discussion usually have complex characters who are forced to make hard choices.
  • Will someone moderate? Members can take turns being the leader who keeps things on track or you can have “free-for-all” meetings. You might ask each member to come up with a question to pose or choose books that come with discussion guides. Someone else could also bring in background information about the author.
  • Refreshments? Do you want to add a social element to your meeting? Some groups like to share a full meal or ask everyone to bring a snack to share. Or you may decide that the rotating host supplies beverages and a dessert.

Once your book group gets rolling, look for ways to keep it fun. If the book you’re discussing is also a movie, rent the DVD to watch at your meeting. Keep things fresh by varying your reading list and including some challenging choices. You know your group is a success when everyone looks forward to the next meeting

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