Student Snippets


The Fabulous Book Club

For the last fifteen years, I've been part of the modestly named Fabulous Book Club.   In January 2000, we were a group of mostly single 20-somethings living in Somerville and Cambridge and Jamaica Plain.  Over the years, we've somehow turned into a group of mostly married 40-somethings living in far-flung suburbs (although I'm holding fast to Somerville!).  We've had high highs and low lows.  Some women moved away, others moved in.  Today, about 6 of us meet monthly for dinner, conversation and book discussion (really! We do talk about the book!).  We have a pretty good system, and I think we'll go for at least another 15 years.

Because I'm sure there are legions of people out there wondering how we've stayed together for 15 years, here are my tips for keeping a book club going long term.  We also have fifteen years of really great book lists, which I'm happy to share if anyone is interested. 

So.  To start and keep a book club, you need...

  • People.  In January 2000, a friend and I each asked 2-3 friends to join our brand new book club.  Of the original group, only two of us are still in the club (sadly, my co-founder moved to Connecticut a few years later, and then to New York).  For the first five years or so, the group fluctuated a lot as people moved in and out of Boston.  We just kept going, adding new members when others moved away (including the famous "Laurie is moving back to Cincinnati, where she's from, and her friend Kris is moving from Cinci to Boston, so let's just take Kris sight unseen").  For the last five or seven years, though, the group has been pretty consistent.  Honestly, I think it would be hard for someone new to join the group at this point, since we have such a shared history.
  • Meetings.  We meet monthly.  We've learned that it's best to set dates well ahead of time and stick with them.  Very occasionally we move the date, but usually we stick to the pre-scheduled meeting.  We now set all the dates for the entire year each January (second Wednesday of the month at 6pm!) so people can plan child care, work commitments, and all the other scheduling minutiae of life.  We take year-long shifts as "book club secretary," sending out reminders of meeting dates and book titles.
  • Books.  We used to select books monthly, then 3-4 at a time, and now we pick them yearly.  Everyone submits titles to the book club secretary, and we vote for the next year's books.  The top 11 win (in December we don't read a book, but instead do a fun activity).  I've heard of some book clubs where members take turns picking books, which sounds nice too, but this way we have a full year's worth of books set ahead of time, which seems to work well.
  • Spoiler alert?  Our policy is, it's perfectly OK if you don't finish (or start!), the book, but you have to expect people to talk about it, including any spoilers.  Your choice.
  • Fun!  Every December, instead of reading a book, we do a "fun activity."  We've made jewelry, had tea at the Ritz, gone to the Paint Bar, held a Yankee Swap, baked for a cookie exchange, and more. 
  • Book Club, the Next Generation.  As it turns out, most of us now have daughters, so we've started getting the girls together every few months for some sort of fun activity (cupcake decorating was a big hit!).  We hope our daughters will get to  know the other women in book club, as well as their daughters, and turn to them for support as they grow up.  Research shows that girls fare better when they are part of a caring community of adults -- and what better community than women their moms have been seeing monthly for 15 years?

Are you in a book club?  What works, and what doesn't?   Have you ever heard this hilarious book group song?