Tips for Starting a Book Club

Books are wondrous. We know, of course, that reading helps seniors improve cognitive health and memory and reduce stress, but that’s not often why we crack a spine and spend hours with a book in our hands. We explore new lands and times. We meet fascinating characters and overcome challenges.

With the profound feelings a good book — or even a bad book — raises, it’s natural to want to share the experience and discuss the finer points with interesting people. If you would like to form a book club but are unsure where to begin, we’ve outlined tips for starting a book club you’ll cherish and meetings you’ll look forward to.

How to Start a Book Club for Seniors

Whom to Invite

The great news is you only need two members to form a book club, but you may find the discussions more fun with more people. You can send an invitation to anyone who loves to read. You can decide if you want a few close friends or maybe an intergenerational group to provide unique viewpoints

How to Set up Meetings

How often to meet

The frequency of your book club meetings will depend on how quickly your group members are able to finish a book. Most often, book clubs choose to meet monthly. If your book selection is longer than usual, you might wait six weeks before coming back together or keep your monthly schedule and discuss the book in two parts.

Where to meet

You could offer your residence for the monthly meetings if you like to host, choose a neutral location, or rotate hosting duties among the members. If you want to include out-of-town friends in your book club or if you’re practicing social distancing, you can host your meetings on video chat platforms like Zoom, FaceTime or Skype. You could also social distance in an outdoor setting if everyone lives close by.

How to Choose a Book

For the first book

There are a few different methods to decide the first book you read as a group. Firstly, if you’re considering how to start a book club for seniors, you might first investigate which books can be found in large print or as an audiobook, so older adults with low vision can easily participate. You could suggest several appropriate titles and let the members vote. Each member could suggest a title and see if there is consensus. You could all agree on a genre and select the most popular current book in that genre.

Going forward

Once you’ve chosen your first book, it helps to create a system to decide on book choices in the future. Maybe you’ll decide to always offer suggestions and vote as a group. You might also establish a rotation among the members for who gets to choose the book each month. Make sure everyone feels they have a voice in the selection at least some of the time.

How to Get the Conversation Going

For the first few meetings, you may want some conversation starters to begin the analysis. You can begin by going around the group and asking people what they liked or didn’t like about the book. That way, you start by inviting all club members to contribute. Here are some other discussion questions you could ask the group:

  • Which character did you relate to most strongly?
  • Which scenes affected you most?
  • Would you recommend this book to anyone? Who?
  • How do you think the characters will continue to evolve after the end of the book?
  • What sort of impact did the setting have on the story?
  • Do you think the book has a message or moral? If so, what?
  • What other books did this one remind you of?

How to Choose a Name

Don’t dismiss this idea out of hand. It’s actually one of the important tips for starting a book club. Besides being fun to invent, a name can do a lot to bring a group together. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Top Shelf Book Club
  • By Hook or by Book
  • Read Herring
  • All Booked Up
  • Spine Benders
  • All the World’s a Page
  • Bookin’ Good
  • Read Letter Club
  • Shelf Love
  • Page for Play
  • Bookin’ Up a Storm
  • Paint the Town Read

You can choose one of these or invent your own.

If you’d like to know about the different book clubs at Sedgebrook, or if you’d like to find out more about the other activities and varied wellness opportunities within the community, please contact us. We’d be happy to tell you more.

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