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People of the Book Club!
By Rachel Stern, ISJL Director of Education
Thanks to Oprah, there are now countless book clubs. Since Jews are regarded as “people of the book,” and also a religion that values community, book clubs are a perfect addition to Jewish life. Many people would love to be in a book club or even to start one but aren’t sure how to make it happen. The following tips will help you create the perfect book club for you!
1) Decide what kind of book club you would like. Do you want more of a social feel or a more serious and scholarly group? Will you explore multiple genres or just focus on a particular type of literature?
2) Who is your target audience? Some people like book clubs to be solely for men or women, while others bring together people of similar ages or open up the group to anyone and everyone. Decide what kind of group you are looking for and invite them to join.
3) How many people? The ideal size is between five and fifteen people. If you don’t know enough people, you can even spread the word in your synagogue bulletin, on a Facebook page or even on Craig’s List.
4) Time and Place: Everyone is busy, and everyone has their ideal side of town so do the best you can to choose a time and location that works for most of the group. You can use tools like doodle.com to poll the group. Once you settle on your decision, try and keep a set time, so people get used to making it part of their routine. Some groups have a fixed location, while others rotate to each other’s homes.
5) Ground rules: You will need to decide if it’s a suggestion to read the book or a requirement to read the book. If you want a more serious group, you will need to set and communicate guidelines from the start.
6) Protocols: How will you decide which book to read? Will everyone in the group have a say? Most clubs choose books together or even have each member recommend a book for the gathering that they host. There are great book club recommendations lists, or you can even follow a Best Seller list for inspiration.
7) Documentation: Keep track of your group’s experiences. Some groups may just keep a list of the books they have read, while more active groups may organize themed snacks and dress for the books they read; you will want photos to remember great times together!