20 Cool Book Club Trends You Should Try

Book clubs always have been and probably always will be a ubiquitous way for literature lovers to band together and bicker over their interpretations of reads stunning, horrible and everything in between. Unlike English 101, they offer up an appealingly casual, low-pressure environment in which to dissect the writerly arts, exchange ideas and hopefully promote literacy along the way. But even the most rigorously satisfying book clubs experience lulls, so the following trends might help leaders punch things up a little bit. Some old, some new, some borrowed and some…well…not blue. More like a cerulean or a deep azure. The one thing they have in common (aside from the obvious) is that they add some variety to established and upcoming groups alike.

  1. Online book clubs

    Probably one of the most prolific book club trends these days embraces the digital world and brings together bibliophiles from local and distant regions alike. Tech-savvy discussion leaders have a bevy of resources at their disposal, including blogs, social media and mobile devices, among others. A little creativity, a little time, a little advertising and they can reach a far broader audience than hosting meetings at home.

  2. Ebook clubs

    Whether run by publishers, book stores or independent bibliophiles, Kindle, Nook and other ebook owners can enjoy talking their chosen reads and their delicious gadgetry at the same time through specialized clubs. Unlike their more traditional paper predecessors, users frequently reap great deals simply for participating. Various literature-related companies offer up different specials, like free downloads for signing up or unlimited books with a subscription fee. Depending on the device, an ebook club could also double as an online one for well-connected leaders and members.

  3. Use recommendation engines

    Even more well-established book clubs sometimes experience periods where members struggle with selecting their next reads. Consulting recommendation engines such as the very popular Shelfari, GoodReads, LibraryThing and more will easily jump-start lulls in the decision making process. Depending on preferences, suggestions either come automated or directly from other website participants. Either method, however, opens up book club denizens to literature they might not otherwise know, some of which might prove brand new loves.

  4. Social media book clubs

    Facebook, Google+, group blogs, and other social media sites, in the hands of supremely creative, savvy leaders, might prove the best bet for whipping up an online book club. For pretty obvious reasons! Many recommendation engines also serve double duty as social media sites for avowed literature aficionados, making them particularly piquant places to bond with potential members. And, of course, discover some seriously cool reads along the way.

  5. Participate in Twitter chats

    Social media and other online book club opportunities may require a little more time investment than some go-go-go readers can muster. The 140-character format Twitter made famous might prove exactly what they want, with a plethora of literary hashtag chats suitable for many different tastes. Some occur monthly, others weekly, so search or ask around when seeking a possibly fulfilling fit.

  1. Skype book clubs

    Online book clubs with a more text-based structure provide the convenience, but not necessarily the same interactive element the super sociable crave. Fortunately, free video chat service Skype allows participants a chance to meet face-to-face without sacrificing the convenience that makes internet-based organizations so appetizing. All it takes is a webcam, fast connection, and coordinated schedule to get this 21st century book club structure off the ground.

  2. Traveling book clubs

    Book club leaders with the proper resources might want to take a cue from DC-based councilman Tommy Wells. His book club, with selections regarding green initiatives and politics, moves from library to library in the area. A "traveling" book club could switch locations every month, offer "franchises" in different parts of a city, or harbor a leader moving from group to group. Or some combination thereof. Logistically, most groups might find this structure on the difficult side. For some leaders, though, it might prove a snuggly fit.

  3. Pick a theme

    Unsurprisingly, book club themes come as diverse as those participating in them. All one needs to do is hop online and see the myriad organizations out there devoted to specific genres, themes, time periods and even authors. Successful book clubs don't always revolve around a more narrowed emphasis, of course, but doing so does at least make the reading selection process easier!

  4. Host a virtual book tour stop

    Get in touch with a PR firm, publishers or authors and see if any of them are currently seeking virtual book tour stops. More "connected" groups with a social media or online presence might want to volunteer their space for discussions about the writing process. And, of course, about the relevant publications. Suffice to say, it's probably a good idea to read the book together before offering to play host/ess.

  5. Rent-a-book-club

    Rather than allowing a theme to dictate selections, check and see if the local library or another organization rents out "starter kits" for new groups. Down in Florida, the Leon County Public Library System allows leaders to check out 10 copies of the same book, also providing them with pointers and a few discussion questions. Newer groups might find this arrangement something of a godsend while they find their bearings, but even the more established ones out there might find it a useful time-saver.

  1. Swap with other groups

    Use an online book service — or hook up with other groups in the area – to trade completed reads. Swapping saves money and space in addition to exposing readers to literature they may not otherwise consider. When contemplating this strategy, it's probably a good idea to try and find another book club of a similar size.

  2. Blend books and crafts

    Picking a creative, crafty theme such as knitting, crochet, sewing, quilting, scrapbooking or other pursuit allows clubs to pull double duty. While discussing the month's book, participants can occupy their hands with a relevant project. And once the talk of literature ceases, progress gets shared and advice gets proffered. Such an arrangement might prove ideal for time-crunched creatives looking to connect a few of their loves into one satisfying event.

  3. Volunteer together

    Book clubs whose members enjoy a bit of free time might want to consider meeting beyond meetings. Specifically, organizing volunteer projects right in their own neighborhoods. It could be something as simple as setting up a book drive or more involved reading to the elderly or recording tapes for the visually impaired. Service projects don't have to revolve around promoting literacy, of course. Members can pick based on mutual interests or overarching themes as well.

  4. Citywide book clubs

    Walnut Creek, California's One City, One Book and Houston's Gulf Coast Reads both stand as sterling examples of the regional book club format. Instead of starting a group or seeking out pre-existing ones, some wanting to join in the literary fun might want to try out this option if it's available. Do keep in mind that such events are usually annual instead of monthly, though.

  5. Read only one book

    Some literary groups form for the sole purpose of regularly dissecting the intricacies of only one book, with James Joyce's textual puzzle Finnegan's Wake amongst the most popular. But House of Leaves and a significant chunk of Thomas Pynchon's oeuvre could easily work as well. More faithful readers out there might want to consider regularly exploring a favored holy book. Although the possibilities will prove far narrower than picking a theme and running with it, singling out one book for an entire group (or just a year) might still prove a fun and worthwhile pursuit for some intense bibliophiles.

  1. Host or attend lectures

    Hitting up local literary lectures together might foster togetherness in the more tighter-knit book clubs out there, giving them even more content to discuss with one another. Like volunteer work, these "field trips" challenge participants to consider literature's roles and insights beyond their regular meetings. More forward (or resourced) groups might want to consider organizing lectures of their own, bringing in authors to talk about that month's selection.

  2. Enjoy some coffee talk

    Brew up some coffee and get to talking with this simple suggestion pretty much any book club – particularly those convening in shops or at home – can implement. Tea and wine work just as well when encouraging relaxation and coziness, both necessary components to creating an inclusive atmosphere conducive to talking. For newer clubs, attaching this age-old trend might very well prove key to nurturing cohesiveness.

  3. Eat what you read

    If books are supposed to be food for the mind, try and pair up relevant reads to food for the body as well. Because so many books revolve around nourishment's role in human culture – think the gorgeous Like Water for Chocolate — finding the right gustatory partner will probably prove a cinch. Cookbooks specifically catering to book clubbers (check the link!) are out there bursting with suggestions as well.

  4. Book clubs in schools

    The PTO noted a rise in schools offering book club opportunities for parents and students alike, if not parents and students together. As a neighborhood-building exercise, it's certainly a clever one, so more civic-minded leaders might want to bring up the possibility if no groups are yet available. Any public or private institutions hoping to host a book club have plenty of options at their disposal, such as asking moms and dads to read what teachers place on the syllabus or promoting international authors.

  5. Beta reading

    One seriously cool book club theme to consider requires reading publications that aren't even available. Some savvy leaders contact agents, authors and promoters and see if their book cubs can beta read novels, poetry, nonfiction and more in exchange for feedback. Most writers appreciate hearing what audiences have to say, so if they can hear some solid critiques before their books hit the market, the better their chances at success. Don't be discouraged if this approach doesn't work out, though. It's not like there aren't other trends to follow out there. Or trends to start.

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