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April 24, 2007 6:49 PM   Subscribe

How do I found a great book club?

I work from home. I think my cat and I are developing an unhealthy codependency; I really need to get out more. I've thought about joining a book club for a while, but lately, it just seems like the right time. I find myself missing college lit classes and late night discussions over liberally highlighted novels.

I've poked around online. Meetup.com was a surprising bust, Craigslist didn't help. I found maybe half a dozen listings for book clubs in San Francsico, but they all meet downtown. I live in the Outer Richmond and would rather not spend more time on the bus than in the actual meeting.

How do I find a book club that's 1.) on my end of the universe (preferably in the Richmond or Sunset), 2.) is actually devoted to discussing the books and isn't mostly an excuse for potlucks and gossip, 3.) isn't focused on a specific genre, and 4.) is ideally held at a bookstore, coffee shop, or bar (rather than at someone's house)?
posted by mostlymartha to Writing & Language (14 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
If you're trying to find a book club (rather than found one), then have you tried asking at local bookstores? The Barnes&Noble near where I used to live had one, for instance.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 7:00 PM on April 24, 2007

Is the Richmond Public Library close to you? Their website is slightly teh suck and I can't find any info about one, but maybe they have a book group. Here's their number: 510-620-6561.
posted by ArcAm at 7:33 PM on April 24, 2007

Any libraries near you? They often have book clubs.
posted by teg at 7:34 PM on April 24, 2007

Sunset Branch book club. Next meeting on May 2.
posted by barnone at 7:43 PM on April 24, 2007

Other literary events - book store readings, lectures, etc.
posted by barnone at 7:46 PM on April 24, 2007

I was looking for the perfect book club for me once and didn't find it. So I posted an ad on craigslist stating everything I wanted in a book club. A good-sized group of like-minded people responded and we got started. All in all, my results were pretty good and I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
posted by juliplease at 7:49 PM on April 24, 2007

I think these folks are in Sunset. Give them a ring and ask if they know -- local bookstores are usually invested in knowing about the literary events in the area.
posted by barnone at 7:56 PM on April 24, 2007

The fine employees of Green Apple (Inner Richmond) might have some suggestions for you, but I do think that juliplease's idea of a brand new Craigslist post could be interesting and rewarding for you.
posted by gatorbiddy at 8:04 PM on April 24, 2007

The craiglist suggestion sounds like a great one. Also don't forget to check out local independent bookstores and coffee shops - there's often advertisements for them on the bulletin boards.
posted by rmm at 8:37 PM on April 24, 2007

Do you have a college, even a community college nearby? I'm taking classes at a community college right now and the bulletin boards are filled with notices for book clubs, both formal and informal.
posted by houseofdanie at 8:54 PM on April 24, 2007

If you're looking more for an idea of how to structure a new book club, I'll tell you how mine works. I've never been in a book club before this, though, so while I think this is a pretty novel way to organize a club it may very well be the norm.

For starters, I live in a small expat community where English books are hard to find. Most of us order from Amazon, which requires a bit of lead time. There are about 16 women in the club from various countries but all of us speak and read English (some are Korea, some are Norwegian, some are from the UK, some are American).

We meet once a month. Because of the required lead time, every three months we pick books for the next three months. At the meeting before we pick books, we ask for three volunteers to submit the books they want to read next. Each "picker" then has about a month to come up with three or four books they would like to read.

At the next meeting, the pickers present their three or four book choices however they want to present them. Some read a description from Amazon, some read from the back cover, some read a review. Whatever floats your boat. Then, for each picker we vote to choose *one* of their three picks. We do this for all three pickers, and the end result is three new books that were chosen democratically. The good thing about this is that people are more likely to read the book if they had some hand in choosing it. Another good thing is that due to the diversity of the group I've been exposed to a lot of literature I'd never chose for myself. Some of it has sucked and some of it has been awesome.

When it's a picker's turn to discuss their book, that person gets to choose when and where we meet. A lot of the time people try to plan meetings around a topic from the book — for example, if we're reading a book set in China we'd meet at a Chinese restaurant.

Hope this helps.
posted by Brittanie at 9:28 PM on April 24, 2007

1. Choose a public place to sit and read and write on certain days. Same place, same time, every week (or month or full moon or however these things work best).

2. Blog about the books you have read, are reading, and will read. Let people know what you look like and where you'll be if they want to join the club, but make sure they understand that you don't want to be interrupted unless they are coming to talk about the current book -- that you aren't looking for a date or a food discussion (even if you are a tasty lady) or anything else.

3. See who shows up to talk about the latest book with the woman whose fascinating book blog they read.

Even if no one shows up, you will still be reading good books and thinking and writing about them, and the invisible book club will keep you on track.
posted by pracowity at 2:16 AM on April 25, 2007 [1 favorite]

I know you checked meetup, but how closely? I find the book clubs in meetup for Toronto look a little serious and dry for me. But the "Females for Friendship" group--a women only general activities group--has a bookclub within it that I enjoy quite a lot. It may be that some of the more general groups may have bookclubs built into them.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:54 AM on April 25, 2007

And for more literary events, theres SoMa Literary Review.
posted by Arthur Dent at 3:46 PM on May 10, 2007

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