Book clubs continue to be a popular way to get in some regular reading, stimulate the mind, and socialise, all within an easily achievable budget.
Starting your own book club is easy, if you know how to go about it. For invaluable guidance and support, it is worth contacting a bookshop that specialises in support for book clubs, allowing you to get on with your reading.
The Millpoint Caffe Bookshop in South Perth and The Lane Bookshop in Claremont are two such bookshops. They each provide suitable books, advice and helpful staff to get you started and keep your group going.
If you’re starting your own book club, Adam Brenner at the Millpoint Caffe Bookshop recommends starting the group with at least one other person you know.
“It makes getting started easier and provides some glue to hold the group together,” he says.
“A group then needs at least five people, but no more than ten or twelve. A few people is just enough to bounce ideas off each other and get the conversation going; with more than a dozen you run the risk of having too many voices and some people fading into the background.”
If you don’t want to start your own group, never fear – you can go into the Millpoint Caffe Bookshop, put your name down and they will join you up with a book club.
If you already have a group, bookshops can still help in a lot of ways.
Choosing your books
One of the most daunting tasks for a book club is choosing a book each month.
With so many new releases, narrowing the choice and finding a place to start can seem overwhelming. This is where a bookseller can be especially helpful.
“Some people come in looking quite terrified,” says Ann Day at The Lane Bookshop. “We can make the task much easier.”
The Lane runs more than 150 book clubs in Perth, which usually meet in members’ homes. As a helpful service to these book clubs, the bookshop publishes a brochure of recommended titles twice yearly, as well as a book club newsletter every few months.
On the premises, piles of books ranging across more than forty titles are found in the book club section of the shop. One person can come in and buy the books for all of the members, or those books can go into ‘book club land’ and individual members of the club can come in to pick up their book later. This insures members against missing out on a copy.
When it comes to choosing books, what works well is a story with an underlying issue.
Adam at the Millpoint Caffe Bookshop explains. “It isn’t necessarily a book you would take on holiday, but it is one that will keep you interested. Topical books, with something meaty in them, work because they give people a significant idea to discuss,” he says.
At the Millpoint Caffe Bookshop and The Lane Bookshop, multiple copies of suitable book club titles are kept instore. This means that book clubs can buy all of their books at one time. It eliminates the possibility of your local bookshop running out of copies before all the members can buy it.
Organising your club
It is very advantageous for a book club to be affiliated with a bookshop that provides services such as the above.
The Lane Bookshop provides thorough guidance and support for book clubs. A senior staff member from The Lane visits each new book club in its first session and recommends the best ways to run the club.
In addition to other services, The Lane Bookshop offers a 10% discount on books purchased for book clubs.
Like The Lane, the Millpoint Caffe Bookshop offers help and direction for book clubs old and new.
Groups meet on the premises each month – which makes finding a venue easy – and a staff member brings them four or five new releases, which are reviewed. The members can then choose which book they will read the following month.
Adam at the Millpoint Caffe Bookshop notes, “book clubs tend to read fiction more than any other kind of writing. Because of this, some clubs will decide to read history or biography every three or six months.”
(to be continued ...)