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5 Tips How To Choose Books For a Book Club

The Ruah Book Club has been around for over 2 years now, and the membership has not changed much, only increased. Without false modesty, I can say that one of the reasons for its success is the choice of books that I, as a moderator, put up for voting. For the whole history I can remember only a few "failed" books. Most of the time the books cause a heated discussion in the private chat room even before the meeting itself.

How to choose books for book club

Therefore, based solely on my experience, I will allow myself to give a few recommendations. I hope they will be useful to you.

1. Democratic choice, but limited.

How it works. The moderator proposes 3-4 books on similar topics for voting (more on this below). Conducts an election campaign for each of the books: briefly and as attractively as possible tells what awaits the readers, puts out a photo of the cover and quotes.

Participants (voters) can vote for only one of the books. After a few days, a winner is announced by a simple vote count.

Why it's the right thing to do. I've met a few book clubs where the moderator nominates the book in an authoritarian manner. As in any autocracy it works, but not always and not for long. People will come for one book and not another. Besides, most still want to be part of the election process. Unless the moderator himself is an Influencer and a very charismatic personality like Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, Natalie Portman, etc. Then by all means, go! – command and appoint:)

2. How to choose books to vote.

There are several ways to do this:

The first is to ask club members to send their recommendations. They should be analysed and a few of the most interesting ones should be chosen. The moderator must carefully approach the selection, so that in the end the books that will be liked by the majority will be voted on.

The second is to make a selection on a particular topic. For example:

- books that have been screen adapted

- winners of the Booker, Nobel, Goncourt, etc. prizes.

- authors of a certain country (Japan, France, Italy, etc.)

- women's prose

- psychological novels

- travel books

- books by one particular author

- classics

- non-fiction

- autofiction

- dystopias

- etc.

3. Constant monitoring of books.

I believe that a book club moderator is a calling. It should be someone who is passionate about books. I am subscribed to all possible book clubs, a community of book clubs moderators, interesting bookstores, publishers, influencers and book bloggers, media who write about books and make selections. Sometimes I go to to see what Sofia Coppola, Sarah Jessica Parker or Bill Gates, for example, is reading.

How to choose books

4. Choose books that are affordable.

I often hear requests from book club members: "The main thing is to have an audio format" or "To be able to buy a paper version translated into your native language". It seems that in this age of e-books and Amazon, this shouldn't be a problem, but it's better to consider this point so that the book is available in different formats. Also, if your club, as well as ours, is located in another country that is not native-speaking, it is possible to arrange in advance with a local bookstore for book delivery.

5. Choose books that meet the challenges of the time.

I think you will agree that a book found in time can often be therapeutic, can help to understand a difficult situation, explain some phenomena and processes. And it does not necessarily have to be non-fiction literature.

Novels about war, about the inner world of a person, about survivors of terrible events and survived, for example, in the Holocaust, about overcoming, about loneliness, about friendship, about noble or vice versa low human actions, about relationships between parents and children, partners. As a moderator, try to be a bit of a psychologist in order to suggest exactly those books that will resonate in the souls of your participants.

Book club list

Photo from Allure Magazine June 1998/Photography Tim Walker


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