The question that we get most often when people learn of our book group is how do we manage it. These are the "rules" that we've sort of adopted over time:
How often do you meet?
We shoot for every six weeks, but are flexible about schedules, vacations, business trips, school events.
Where do you meet?
We rotate hosting. The last person to join is added in behind the newest gal.
If my memory is right the rotation goes:
How many people in the book club?
We've found that six to seven is a manageable number, it makes hosting easy because most of us can easily find seating for 6 or 7 in our homes, and it doesn't take days on end to prepare to host.
Why are you all women, do you hate men?
We love men! Men are so wonderful but we were looking for a boyfriend free zone when we first started and have found that it works for us. Sometimes a husband or boyfriend will join if they have read the book and if they can get a word in edgewise it's fine but it does change the dynamic of the discussions.
Who picks the books?
Some book clubs make a reading list at the beginning of the year and that's what they read, but we rotate picking. When it's your turn to host next you bring a book to preview at the previous meeting. Sometimes a hostess will bring a few selections and will let the group vote for what they want to read, but there's nothing to prevent someone from bringing THE selection and letting that be the final word.
What do you do when you can't come or you haven't finished the book by the next meeting?
If a conflict comes up we contact the hostess directly and if she starts to get a lot of requests she can propose to the group to change the date. We don't want the hostess to feel like she has to publicly choose between people, but we've all missed at one time or another because of last minute things.
As for not finishing the book, that actually happens a lot. We're a busy group, we're running our own businesses, raising kids, working on political campaigns, traveling for work, going to school and things come up. If we've given it the college try and the book just isn't readable in the 6 week window we're raised the white flag to ask for more time.
Do you allow new members?
This is a tough one for us as we like to keep the number manageable, but over the years we've had many wonderful ladies rotate in and out. We've had some gals tell us it was hard to break in because we've been together for so long that when discussing books we circle back to things we read five or six years ago. We also had an unfortunate situation where a gal wanted to join but we didn't have chemistry and we hurt her feelings. We tried to evoke a "guest" rule, but we've relaxed a little and have been delighted by the last few ladies that have joined us.
Are there any hard and fast rules about what to discuss?
The only real rule we have is that we DO NOT DISCUSS THE BOOK BEFORE THE MEETING. Every once in a while a "I love this book" or "Man, do I have something to say on Tuesday" ekes out. Our best discussions are when someone feels passionately about the book. Only once have we ever dumped a book pre-meeting. Meeting Mr. Watson - NOT RECOMMENDED.