Ready, set, read!
Being part of a book club gives you the chance to discover new works and carve some much needed “me time” into your undoubtedly packed mama schedule. It’s also a great way to meet new people and foster friendships over a coffee or glass (or three) of wine! If you’re looking to join a book club in Hong Kong but can’t find one that suits your schedule, why not start one yourself? Read on for our guide on how to start your own book club. Ready, set, read!
Before you can start reading, you need to find some fellow bookworms to join you. Recruit members from existing friends, fellow mamas or colleagues. Once you start asking around, you’re bound to find lots of people who are keen, they’ve probably just been waiting for someone to ask them! Try to aim for no more than ten people to meet up. Any more will make it tricky to hold a group conversation, coordinate schedules, or find a venue that can accommodate everyone comfortably.
Book it in
Once you’ve found your fellow readers, it’s time to plan your first get together. Choose dates for the first meetups in advance and send them out with lots of notice (mamas know better than most how quickly diaries get filled up!). Ask people if they’d prefer a Facebook or Whatsapp group to coordinate, both come with pros and cons. Whatsapp is a great way to chat and keep in touch, but group chats can sometimes get a bit much. A Facebook group will give you more functionality, including the chance to run polls on book choices, create events and reminders, and invite prospective members, but probably won’t lend itself to a chatty, friendly group outside of book club admin.
Timing is key
If you’re a full-time parent, a regular weekday meet up with other mama friends gives you the chance to meet up with the kids in tow. Alternatively, you could make this time an adult-only affair with strictly no kids and plenty of wine. Back at work? Get to know your colleagues better (and make the most of your lunch hour) by hosting a book club once a month. Whichever option you choose, pick a time that suits as many people as possible to help to your club get off the ground.
When considering your book club venue, try to find somewhere that isn’t going to play loud music and that has an area with plenty of space for everyone to sit together and to hear each other. If you plan to meet in a coffee shop or bar that you’ve not visited before, take the time to scout out the location before sending the invite out and have a chat with the staff about whether you can reserve an area. If people will be bringing babies or little ones along, it’s worth confirming with the venue if they have space for strollers, highchairs and provisions for nursing mums.
So many books, so little time
For your first pick, choose a reasonably short book that can easily be bought (try Bookazine or Book Depository) or borrowed from the public library in Hong Kong, and give people plenty of time to read it! Here are a few titles that the Sassy Mama team has been discussing in the office recently, which would all make brilliant book club picks:
- “Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine” by Gail Honeyman – This quirky and uplifting fiction is guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face.
- “The Dry” by Jane Harper – A twisty thriller set in small-town Australia that’ll definitely to give you a lot to discuss!
- “Educated” by Tara Westover – A stranger than fiction story of the author’s extraordinary childhood.
Once you’ve had your first meeting, ask members to suggest and vote on future books. Chances are you’ll end up discovering a new favourite book or author!
Read more: Our Top Book Picks By Age: From 4 To 14+
The first meeting
Arranging a group event with people you don’t know very well is always nerve-wracking, but chances are your fellow members will be just as nervous as you! Make sure there’s plenty of time for people to chat and start to get to know each other before you start discussing the book.
Get talking and have fun!
For your first meeting, prepare some starter questions about the book to get people talking. Lots of books have discussion questions already in the back pages, and publishers will often share book club resources online. Don’t worry if a few people haven’t had time to finish this month’s pick (mama life happens!). Who really goes to a book club solely to talk about the book anyway?
Questions to help spark discussion for both fiction and non-fiction reads:
- What did you think of the plot? Was it believable?
- Who was your favourite/least favourite character and why?
- Did you know much about the setting of this book before you read it? If you did, does it depict the location realistically for you?
- Did this book make you want to visit the area in which it is set?
- Who would you cast if this book was made into a film?
- And of course – the big question – did you enjoy reading it? Why?
Inspired to start your own book club? Let us know at [email protected]. We’d love to hear how it goes!