10 Tips for Hosting a Book Club

One of the best pairings with our wine is a good book club. There’s nothing like sipping on Chardonnay, enjoying small bites, and discussing the summer’s hot read with friends, new and old. With this in mind, here’s some tips and tricks for forming your own literary circle.

1. Find a Theme: Define the subject matter and authors you choose. Will you decide on serious literature, or light summer reads? Modern fiction, or works from 1920s expatriates? This decision will also have an influence on who your fellow book club members will be. (e.g. don’t expect a lot of guys to join if your book choices have Fabio on the cover.)

2. Size: Cap the group participants to a number you can reasonably host. Also, be aware that too many participants can result in cross-talking and a breakdown in the discussion.

3. Spread the responsibility. Divide hosting, food, and wine duties among the group each time you meet.

4. Break outside your circle. Consider adding new acquaintances or friends of friends to the group. It’s a great way to meet new people and keep the conversations fresh with different perspectives.

5. First rule of book club? Only book club members allowed. Clear the house of spouses, family members, and roommates who won’t be participating.

6. Avoid over meeting. Err on the side of caution when organizing a meeting schedule. Anything more than once a month, may be overly-ambitious. Also 2-3 hours seems to be the sweet spot. General rule-of-thumb: Plan 30 minutes for food, wine and catching-up with friends, an hour to 90 minutes for a structured discussion and the final 30 minutes for more informal discussion and socializing.

7. The food. Have small bites and foods that are easy to consume while discussing a book. (Probably not a good idea to break out a plate of spareribs.)

And have fun with the food. Incorporate it into a theme related to the book: Empenadas while reading the work of the late Gabriel García Márquez; or how about a warm brie with Madame Bovary?

8. Set the ground rules. Aside from “read the book,” here are other ideas to encourage a lively, enjoyable discussion that we found on LitLovers.com:

  • Agree to disagree. Be gracious! There is no one way to experience or interpret a book. In fact, differing opinions are good.
  • Be gentle but firm. Insist that discussion time be limited to the book. Some clubs hold book discussions first and invite “social members” to join afterward
  • Dominating personalities. Never easy. “Let’s hear from some others” is one approach. Some clubs pass an object around the room; you talk only when you hold the object.

9. Discussion questions. Luckily we have cheat sheets from the folks at LitLovers.com for fiction or non-fiction discussion questions.

10. The wine. Yes, in most cases a book club has as much to to with the wine as it has to do with the book, which is why they are so fun. Nothing lubricates good conversation like a glass of La Crema Pinot Gris or Chardonnay.

Credits:

Photography: Kristin Vincent Photography

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