Friday, 22 October 2010

HOW TO: Start your own book club (Part 2)

(Continued from a previous post)

Starting the discussion

Ann from The Lane advises that most book clubs work well by members taking turns to lead the discussion.

Adam at the Millpoint Caffe Bookshop also says that having one person ‘chair’ the discussion can work. “But this doesn’t work for all groups,” he adds. “Each group figures out what will work best for them.”

It is very helpful for a group to use discussion questions (also called book club notes, or reading group notes) from the book’s publisher. Most publishers write book club notes for a selection of their titles. These are often on a publisher’s website, or occasionally printed at the back of a book. You can download the notes from the publisher’s website, or ask your bookseller for advice. Using discussion points is a good way to get a conversation going, even if you don’t end up following the questions.

Another great way to discuss the book you are reading is to invite the author along to your meeting. If the author is local this is often quite straightforward. If your club is affiliated with the Millpoint Caffe Bookshop or The Lane Bookshop, they can often organise this for you. Alternatively you can contact the publishing house.

Discussion styles

Book clubs are almost always run as an in-depth discussion about a single book each month. However, a different type of book club is on the rise, seemingly introduced from South Africa and found amongst book clubs at The Lane Bookshop.

In this method, one person from the book club chooses fifteen to twenty books from the bookshop. He/she then presents those books to the book club, and the members choose a certain number of the titles. The remainder of the books are returned to the shop and only the selected titles are paid for.

The book club then builds up a library of books for members to share. Meetings involve individuals standing up and giving a synopsis and review of the book they have just read.

You may prefer this method over the more common single-book group discussion. Work out what the preferred method is in your group.

The benefits of being in a book club extend past discovering new books that you might not read on your own – in the process of meeting around a common subject, a community is built up.

Being in a book club means doing something with people who love what you love.

For further ideas and advice, or a place to get started, contact:

Millpoint Caffe Bookshop
254 Mill Point Rd,
South Perth, WA
Ph: (08) 9367 4567

The Lane Bookshop
Old Theatre Lane
52c Bayview Tce
Claremont, WA
Ph: (08) 9384 4423

Recommended titles from Fremantle Press:
What is left over, after by Natasha Lester (2010)
The Paperbark Shoe by Goldie Goldbloom (2009)
The Last Sky by Alice Nelson (2008)
Spinner by Ron Elliott (2010)
The Albanian by Donna Mazza (2007)
Benang: From the Heart by Kim Scott (1999)
The Bookshop on Jacaranda Street by Marlish Glorie (2009)
Boy on a Wire by Jon Doust (2009)
Fetish Lives by Gail Jones (1997)
Five Acre Virgin and other stories by Elizabeth Jolley (2009 reissue)
Jacob's Air by Bruce Russell (1996)
My Place by Sally Morgan (2008 reissue)
The Newspaper of Claremont Street by Elizabeth Jolley (2008 reissue)
Rhubarb by Craig Silvey (2004)
Someone Else's Country by Peter Docker (2009 reissue)
Sweet by Tracy Ryan (2008)

To download book club notes for these titles, go to

Fremantle Press
25 Quarry St
Fremantle, WA
Ph: (08) 9430 6331

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