Last spring, after months of debating if I had enough friends to make the venture successful, I posted a message to Facebook asking if any of my local friends were interested in forming a book club. To say I was nervous is an understatement. My unpleasant memories of being the uncool, nerdy girl in school were forefront in my mind. I worried that no one I knew would be interested in joining. Luckily, my fears were completely unfounded.
In my life before becoming a stay-at-home mom, I was a librarian. Countless people brag to me that they’ve never read an entire book (Newsflash! Being a non-reader isn’t exactly a brag-worthy accomplishment). I prepared myself, therefore, for people to reject the notion of being in a book club. While several friends did turn down the invitation, our book club is flourishing nearly a year later.
I’ve always wanted to be in a book club simply because I love to read and wanted a forum for sharing my love of books. What I didn’t realize was that our book club would become an amazing community of moms. Members of our group tell me how important our monthly meetings have become to them. They look forward to our gatherings where we share food, have a glass of wine, and discuss all things mom- and book-related. Several of the moms regret that they stopped reading when they had children. Our club encourages them to re-prioritize and create personal time for themselves, which they use to read. What started as a way for me to talk nerdy to someone has truly become a mom tribe.
In a world in which a sense of community is lacking and so many of us moms struggle to survive without help from a support system, connecting in constructive ways with other moms is more important than ever. If you feel isolated, lonely, or simply drawn to get out of the house and have some adult time, establishing a book club could be the perfect solution. If you don’t have a community, create your own. Fortunately book clubs are easier to form and sustain than, say, an adult softball league. Here’s my DIY guide to creating your own book club.
Keep It Simple
If you want something to keep going, simplicity is in order. Our initial meeting was on the fourth Thursday of the month. We keep our meetings on the fourth Thursday of each month and only make changes when holidays interrupt the schedule. This allows people to plan work and childcare schedules accordingly. Each month someone volunteers to host. The host selects the book that we all read and chooses whether to have the meeting in her home or at a restaurant. Most of our hosts choose to meet in their homes, and we all bring appetizers and drinks to share so that the job of hosting is pretty stress-free.
Take Turns Picking Books
Some people are surprised that I don’t pick all the books myself. To me, the whole idea of a book club is to stretch our minds a little, so I definitely didn’t like the idea of one person selecting all the books. Taking turns choosing books means that we’ve read a huge variety of books including mystery, historical-fiction, non-fiction, young adult, and magic realism, and more. While not all of the books have been favorites of mine, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting out of my comfort zone and reading books I never would have selected on my own. As a side note, I could never pick all the books. To date, I have selected one book for our group, and I agonized for several days over my decision (being a little OCD goes with the librarian territory).
Google Is Your Friend
Are you a reluctant reader? Do you worry about recommending books to other people? The Internet is here to help! You’re never going to make everyone happy with one book, but there are plenty of guides that help you make book club selections. The Oprah Show we knew and loved may be long gone, but Oprah is still making book club recommendations. In addition, Reese Witherspoon has a virtual book club on Instagram. Both of these are great places to start. You can also just search online for “best book club books.” Google will not disappoint. Then spend some time reading reviews on Amazon of the books you’re considering (preferably not days like I did). You can easily find a book that will appeal to your book club friends.
Your book club doesn’t need to be stuffy or serious. Enjoy time spent in community with other moms. In addition to reading together, go out to eat together. Go to the movies together. Celebrate special occasions together. If reading really isn’t your thing, you can still have your own mom tribe. Form a supper club, running club, or another group built around a common interest. Being a part of a mom community will help provide some sanity in the insanely hectic world of raising children.