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How to Start a Book Club: Advice for Seniors

women looking at book

Reading fiction or non-fiction can be entertaining and instructive in itself. When you extend that activity to talking to others about what you’ve read, those advantages are multiplied.

Here’s a checklist to help you get your own book club started.

  1. 1. Invite potential members and schedule an initial meeting

Brainstorm a list of people you know who might be interested in joining your book club. If you already play cards with friends, go to bingo nights or are part of a church group, why not start a reading group with a group that exists already? Remember to tell your friends to bring their friends too.

Once you have your list, invite members and schedule the first meeting. Some good places to have a book club meeting include a bookstore, a library, or a common area in your senior community. If the weather is good, you could even choose to meet in a park.

  1. 2. Decide what you want to read

At your first meeting, all of you can decide together what you want to read. It may be a good idea to choose books that you know are available in large print or as audio texts.

If you’re hosting your initial meeting in a bookstore, you can simply ask the staff where the large print and audiobook sections are and create your list from the titles you see. As you browse, create a book list with 10 or 20 titles or six to twelve months of reading material.  The next step will be to decide which book everyone should read first.

  1. 3. Fix a time and place to meet

At your first meeting, all of you should also decide when and where to meet. Brainstorm where to hold the regular meetings. Your senior community may have a dedicated area that you can use. Someone else may have a contact at his or her church, and you might be able to hold your meetings after Sunday morning service.

You may also choose to hold a meeting in one of your member’s homes each week and connect it to a Saturday lunch or Sunday brunch. Of course, if you opt to meet in a member’s home, just remember to rotate houses so that no one gets overwhelmed with having to clean and organize every time.

  1. 4. Decide how often to meet

Book club meetings can be held weekly, biweekly, or monthly. During your initial gathering, determine how often everyone would like to meet. If you choose to meet weekly, not everyone may have had time to read the entire book; most of these meetings would be to discuss parts of the book and what readers like and dislike about them.

If you have fast readers in your group, they may be able to read a book in two weeks. If this were the case, hosting meetings every two weeks would allow you to discuss the whole book and choose a new book at the end of the meeting. Monthly meetings would probably be longer than weekly or biweekly meetings because everyone should have read the book over the last month. This means that you’d be discussing the book as a whole and choosing the next book to read on your list.

  1. 5. Consider rotating moderators

During the meetings, you want to keep everyone engaged and give everyone time to speak. This can be done by rotating moderators.

By having a different moderator for each meeting, you’ll be able to participate in different tasks and have different points of entry into a book. This is because everyone thinks and plans differently. One moderator may simply go to the book’s website to find the juicy points of discussion about a book; another person may design activities with the book as a starting point.

In short, creating a book club is a great way to keep your mind sharp and extend your social circle. To add interest, you can even think of a quirky name for your book club. Just remember to keep the doors open to new members. You never know who might have a great idea for a new book to read and discuss!

At The Atrium at Navesink Harbor, conversations start naturally while watching the parade of boats on the water or the changing colors of the sky at sunset. The only way to truly appreciate all we have to offer is to come and experience it for yourself.

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