You may find a book club that's already up and running and just right for you. Or you might like to set up your own club ...
You can set up your own group, join an established one, or look out for notices in local libraries and bookshops, where new groups are often set up regularly. You need people who are committed to reading the books and open to new and different genres, with enough points of view and varying taste to make it interesting. Of course some happy book groups are as much about the nibbles, wine and gossip as about the books; the key is to find or set up a group that matches what you want to get out of it.
Will you take turns to pick the next title, or choose a theme for your reading? Some book groups will read several different writers on the same subject, or stick to a particular genre, or pick the last five Orange Prize winners, or mix fiction and non-fiction. Most local libraries will have sets of the same book available for reading groups to borrow together. You can also join Newbooksmag, which is dedicated to reading groups, and offers extracts, news and book giveaways. Questions and ideas to start off discussion are included in lots of paperbacks, and most publishers’ websites will have reading guides and extra material about a book’s themes and its author’s inspiration.
It might take a bit of courage to start a group, and daunting to open up and discuss your response to a book. But one of the great joys of reading comes from sharing your reactions, and knowing that everyone’s opinion is equally valid. You might love a book someone else hated – the interesting thing is to talk about why. However heated the debate may get, there’s no right or wrong, just your honest response to the writer and the writing.
Flora Rees - Editor, Headline Publishing