5 reasons why your book club is struggling

5 reasons why your book club is struggling

In For the Love of Reading by G.G. Andrew

5 reasons why your book club is struggling
Book clubs are fantastic for readers. Where else can you indulge your love of books and enjoy the fun social outlet of discussing them with others? But even with the most beloved of book clubs, sometimes meetings can get a little stale. Attendance drops off, people stop finishing books, or the conversation isn’t as lively as it used to be. If any of this seems uncomfortably familiar, here are five reasons why your book club may not be thriving — and what you can do about it.

1. You don’t have enough members

If your book club consists of your cousin, your cat, and yourself, you may need to find other book buddies to join your group. Sure, it can be wonderful to have a cozy, close-knit group. But between busy schedules, illness, and the unpredictability of life, having too few members can lead to a group that can’t sustain regular meetings, let alone allow for a rich conversation with varying viewpoints. If you’re in this boat, ask people you know if they’d be interested in joining, like a friendly neighbor or that co-worker you’d like to know better. You can also advertise at a local library or bookstore. Having between 6–12 members is ideal; that way you’ll still have enough bodies to hold meetings in cold and flu season, but not so many people that newcomers or shy members become overshadowed. With enough members, you’ll be more guaranteed of a group with solid attendance and a thorough discussion.

2. There’s not enough book variety

Your book club may have been formed around a particular genre — like mysteries or what your favorite celebrity is reading — but perhaps your group is growing bored with reading similar stories month after month. Maybe nobody seems interested in finishing the novel or your discussions have dwindled.

If your members seem blasé about your recent books, suggest trying a new genre or type of book for your next meeting. If you’ve always read fiction, try nonfiction, or vice versa. Read a Colleen Hoover story like Ugly Love for Valentine’s Day or a dark fantasy around Halloween like Rebecca Roanhorse’s Tread of Angels, set in a 1883 mining town where the descendents of demons still reside. Breaking out of a book rut could get members excited about reading again — if only to sate their curiosity — and generate fresh discussions. You never know, your book club may decide to broaden its scope permanently.

3. You’re choosing all the books

If you’re leading a book club, give yourself a pat on the back. It can be hard to maintain a group over the years, even one centered around reading. It’s no small job to keep a group organized and decide meeting dates, times, and venues. You may also be picking the group’s book each meeting, either formally or informally. On one hand, this is fantastic: there are so many good books you’d love to read. But after a while, one person choosing may lead to reading the same type of book month after month (see point above) or other members becoming less invested in assigned reading material.

Suggest sharing this responsibility among the members for a few months by taking turns finding new books to discuss. Along with injecting some variety into your reading list, it could make the book-chooser more invested in finishing and discussing the book. And who knows? Maybe another member will discover something juicy like Kirstin Chen’s con artist story Counterfeit, and you’ll all be tearing through the pages to read what happens.

4. You need to spice up your setting

Your book club always meets at your friend’s house for a potluck dinner. Or you gather at your favorite local Thai place. Or perhaps happy hour is where you discuss your books. Whatever venue your club initially chose to meet, it obviously works, until it doesn’t. Maybe attendance is falling off and the meetings you once looked forward to seem a little ho-hum. Assuming your problem isn’t having enough members or enough diversity in your reading material, perhaps you need to switch up the location. If you’ve been meeting at someone’s home, suggest a restaurant or pub to make the next meeting more fun and special. If you’re always meeting out, congregate at someone’s house and each bring your favorite dish; you’re guaranteed to learn more about your book club buddies in this more intimate setting — or, at the very least, their cooking skills. You could also embrace the best of both worlds by rotating where you meet: gather at homes to save cash most months, but meet out on the town once each season.

5. Your books aren’t provoking conversation

You’ve got enough members, enough different kinds of books, and you’re meeting at a favorite spot. But when the conversation turns to the book, the room either falls silent or people interrupt to talk about the weather, work, or sports. Sure, it can be fun to have side conversations during book club. But if no one seems interested in discussing the book, that could be a problem. Thought-provoking books push us out of our comfort zones, leading to novel ideas and conversations we never imagined–and often building understanding and closeness with those we’re discussing with.

If you’re missing out on this rich part of a book group, make sure you’re including books that are sure to elicit strong responses. Perfect examples include honest and raw memoirs like Jennette McCurdy’s I’m Glad My Mom Died or books that tackle difficult choices or scandals like Vladimir, which follows the wife of a professor accused of misconduct who develops an obsession with a campus newcomer. When you’re trying to inject some sizzle into your book club, it never hurts to try a read that’s salacious and even a little shocking. Your book group might still be talking about that novel months later. These memorable discussions are what makes book clubs so fun and rewarding.


About the Author: G.G. Andrew

G.G. is a freelance writer and author of romance and women's fiction, including the short story "Everything Left Unsaid" in the collection A Million Ways: Stories of Motherhood. A Texas transplant, she lives outside Houston with her husband and two sons, both of whom are on the autism spectrum. In her spare time, she enjoys browsing bookstores, yoga, paper crafts, cooking, genealogy, and anything related to Halloween. She's probably drinking tea right now.

Not yet a Scribd member?
Start Your Free Trial

Best new books on scribd