New Year … New Books! … or How to Keep Your Book Club Energized and Refreshed

February 27, 2024 |
by: Angela Woodard

For many, the beginning of a new year is a time of reflection and evaluation of the past 12 months and a reset of goals to reach in the New Year.
As we proceed into 2024, maybe you are looking for ways to explore new ideas or add new, interesting relationships into your experiences as the year unfolds? If so, joining or re-vamping a book discussion group or book club can be a very satisfying way to achieve this end.
Whether you choose to join or re-vamp an existing group or organize a group of your own, here are some ideas and suggestions that you may consider helpful.
1. Choose a Theme
Choosing a theme for the group is especially useful when there is a desire to become an expert in a particular area of interest. Members would choose book titles that support the chosen theme. Some examples of themes could include:
A. Genres, such as Mysteries, Romance, Science, etc.
B. Author-themed focus on works by a single author
C. Subject-themed focus any works, fiction or non-fiction that addresses a particular area of interest. For example, Public Health, Emerging Technologies, Banned Books or even Foods from Around the World.
When it comes to a theme-based approach to organizing your book club, let your imagination be your guide, don’t be shy, let your imagination go wild. If you can imagine it, there is sure to be a cache of books that have been written, just waiting for you to explore!
2. Become the book
The main component of this approach is that each member reads a different book and then presents it to the group.
Book club members don’t always have to read the same book as each other every month. Mix it up a little by occasionally designating a theme (once a year?) and letting members choose what they individually want to read.
For example, if you choose to do this in February, you may choose to have members select their own romance genre novel. Or, in May, in honor of Mother’s Day, choose a biography or memoir of a mother.
The possibilities for creativity and individual expression are endless within this approach but it is still important to maintain a unified and structured discussion environment. Consider having each member follow an agreed upon format for presenting their book choice. For example:
1. Title and author
2. Genre
3. Why they chose it
4. Quick plot summary
5. Pluses and minuses
6. Would they recommend it?
7. Favorite and least favorite character?
An added benefit to incorporating “Become the Book” is that many more books can be covered in the same amount of time and comparisons can be drawn between the books selected for discussion.
3. The Wild Card Approach
This approach to organizing your club discussions could also just as easily be thought of as “everything, including the kitchen sink.” The basic idea here is a no-holds barred approach to selecting materials to be covered for the duration of scheduled book club discussions.
This approach can also be useful when members are not in agreement as to what form the book club should take and what direction it should head. The basic action is that each member contributes several book titles that they are interested in reading and discussing, and these selections are written on pieces of paper that are placed in a container and then chosen randomly until the entire book club calendar is filled.
Whatever approach you or your book club select, remember to enjoy the fellowship that participation offers and the wonderful opportunity that may arise to hear viewpoints from others that you may not have considered.
You can join LAMP’s book club discussions by phone, in person or by ZOOM every third Thursday of each month. Just contact LAMP at: 1-800-242-0586 or 412-687-2440 or by email at: