I have been an active member of a book club for over three years. That’s not a confession; it’s a proclamation. I hope you like proclamations, because here comes another one: I’m also a bro and I don’t hide from it. It runs through my veins like the choice IPA that I crush while I’m grilling and chilling with my fellow bros. Naturally, I despise the notion that book clubs are strictly female affairs where middle-aged housewives go to talk about much Christian manipulates Ana and how insane it is she doesn’t have an email account. I also have beef with people who believe book clubs are for the kind of old people who take their liquor with at least four other mixers and a minimum of three garnishes. All those haters are, well, they’re just haters. They are just bitter because they embarrassedly missed the green light metaphors in The Great Gatsby. Being in a Book Club when you’re young is educationally and philosophically fulfilling, keeps you current with the “arts”. And you know what? It can also get pretty rowdy. So if you’ve ever thought about forming a fellowship bound through good conversation, mental stimulation, and the magic in between the pages, here is a how to guide to embracing your future in the Book Club world.
1. Find Friends Who Know How To Read
Chances are that if you read Thought Catalog you A) know how to read B) know people who like to read (and maybe comment) on thought provoking material. These are the people who you want in your club. If you’re not sure, just ask them “Yo, what are you reading right now?” As long as they respond with a book (yes, even some Tucker Max shit) and not a website, back of a cereal box, or “whatever is close to the toilet” then they are eligible to be in the club. Ideally you want someone who can at least explain Gatsby’s Green light metaphor to you, but hey, you gotta work with what you got.
2. Convince Your Friends Book Club Will Change Their Lives For The Better
You’ve found your assortment of “readers” — now you need to convince them that attending a gathering to discuss books is a better use of their time than drinking Natty Light while running Spec Ops missions on Call of Duty. This part can be tough. Some people still bear the scars of having to explain Hamlet to an English class full of demon-eyed drama nerds, but I assure you it can be done. Tell them that a healthy discussion about books will make them smarter and more confident. Remind them chicks dig smart and confident dudes. Tell them it will be easier for them to connect with the cute new marketing analyst if you say something like “Just finished Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, I totally relate to Nick 100%, have you read it?” If that doesn’t work, you also can tell them that there will be lots of pizza, beer, and other knowledge enhancing imbibements at the meeting for them to get down on. It will also give them a better excuse to wear those new Warby Parkers they just bought, ya know the ones with the really bookish frames.
3. Pick Out A Cool Book To Start
Pick out a theme that you think will appeal to the bros and challenge them to come up with suggestions that match it. Excellent starter themes are books that became movies, Pulitzer Prize winners, or biographies of famous historical figures (“Sinatra, you have no idea bro.”) You can save more intense themes like untrustworthy narrators, Oedipal dramas, and “sports” for later months. Have everyone send out their suggestions on a big chain email, take vote, and in no time you’ll have your first book picked out.
4. Set A Date, Time & Location
Getting a group of anybody, let alone readers, to one place is a tough task. Make sure that you set a firm date at least a month in advance. Have a time and location picked out and be sure to actually consider the calendar so you don’t schedule meetings on the first day of College Football the opening of Fast 6 or other more bro-friendly events. Location wise, apartments are better than bars, because you don’t have to be paranoid that the biker dude behind you is going to call you a pansy for saying “the flowing prose of Foster Wallace really moved me.” For the ideal time of when to have the meeting, just keep it when everyone is off work, maybe someone will get their frustration with their co-worker out in a cathartic discussion on life and how it relates to Haruki Murakami’s characterization.
5. Assign A Discussion Leader For The Book
This is essential. Without the leader, the discussion will be limited to “The book was cool” or “The book sucked, why are we in this stupid club?” The leader can be anyone, but it’s generally easier if it is either the person who nominated the book or the person who owns the abode in which you’re currently seeking knowledge. Also important is that this person has prepared a set of discussion questions for the evening. Yes, I know, the task of preparing the questions can seem both daunting and cause you to relive high school English again, but it’s really not that hard. You read Thought Catalog, you’re smart! Themes, Character, Motifs, all that shit. If you’re really stuck, just do a quick Google search for questions — you’ll find something.
6. Enjoy Yourself
In this day and age where everyone has something to say on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Thought Catalog, etc, it’s refreshing to hear out loud what someone actually thinks. If one of your friends is really on a roll regarding Ender Wiggin’s leadership strategies, encourage them to let it rip, ask them how they feel about sci-fi in general and if they’ve ever got down with Phillip K. Dick? Let it be a celebration of the words on the page, become Pagemasters (just like Culkin y’all). I mean it’s kinda like English class except this time you picked out the book, you get to say whatever you want (even really weird shit), and you get to get smoke Ls. Often times it’s easier to articulate how you really feel about Michael Chabon when you’ve had a couple gin and tonics.
Congrats, you just had your first book club meeting! How does it feel? It’s kind of like a Fantasy Football draft but instead of arguing about PPR ratios and injury-prone players you’re battling it out over books! Now all you need to do is go back to step number three and you’re off and running for your follow up meeting. Soon you’ll be in the big leagues and be pairing up books with activities. “Let’s read Moneyball and go to a baseball game!” “No way bro, let’s read No Easy Day and become Navy S.E.A.L.S..” See, before you know it you’ll be recruiting new members and trying to figure out house sigil should look like and if your house mantra hits hard enough.. Because once you’re in a book club, you live that shit every single day!