Starting a Book Club at Work

About 6 months ago a colleague told me about a book club her and her friends and just started. It got me thinking; I’ve never been in a book club, but I’ve always wanted to be a part of one. So why not create one already?

I worked in a bookshop for many years and I was always hearing about book clubs in one way or another. Often, customers would come in to buy books for their own personal book club, and other times people would enquire about local book clubs.

So, after many months of deliberation in which our office moved locations and we went through some major life changes that held things up, I finally decided to get into action. I spoke to my manager and the head of the social/cultural committee and after that, I had to do things, as I’d told people! I couldn’t back out now.

How did it come together?

I decided that what I wanted to do was to first get an idea of how many people were interested, and then what kind of books people read. I sent out an email asking people to reply with some of their favourite books. And the response was overwhelming! I had about 25 people reply saying they were interested and also sharing their favourite books! It was exciting and also very daunting! I was expecting maximum 8 people to be keen, so 25 was a lot more than I was prepared for.

Next, I wanted to give people a chance to choose between some books I would select, so I had a long think over that weekend, and came up with the following:

 

The book chosen (and which considerably beat the others!), was The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith. My Brilliant Career was definitely a contender at the start, but then Ripley came through in the end.

The first book club: The Talented Mr Ripley by Patricia Highsmith

So it was decided! We would be reading and discussing one of Patricia Highsmith’s most popular books. People were so excited to read this and the enthusiasm really made me happy and so glad that it appealed to so many different people.

In the end, about 12 people turned up to the first book club, and it was the perfect amount of people. Everyone pretty much enjoyed the novel, no-one actively disliked it, but there was definitely a lot of room for discussion and people had different thoughts and feelings about the characters, the setting, themes and storylines.

I threw a bunch of questions/conversation starters together in a list in my phone to kick things off and we all were able to discuss them for a good amount of time. The book club was booked into a meeting room for 1 hour, and after 40 mins, we had a bit of a lull once the list I had written had run out, but we soon launched back into discussing things, and before we knew it, the hour was up. Honestly, I feel we could have kept discussing the book for another hour! For a relatively short book (260 pages), a lot happens and a lot of themes are covered, so it was truly a great book to incite discussion in a book club.

Nearly everyone involved had also never been in a book club, so I think we did well :)

Thoughts on the book

I really enjoyed this book. I will definitely be reading more Patricia Highsmith. Not too sure how I feel about reading more in the Mr Ripley series itself, as I don’t know if I can deal with the stress of Tom Ripley and his adventures, but I really enjoyed Highsmith’s writing style and themes, so I am for sure going to read more from her. In particular, The Blunderer looks like a fantastic crime novel. I am so glad that creating this book club gave me the chance to read this book, and I will definitely make an effort to read the other two books I had suggested. After all, I chose books was interested in reading, so I should definitely not forget about them, just because they weren’t voted to win the book club.

Will the book club be continuing?

Absolutely! Our second book is going to be The Last Unicorn by Peter S Beagle. I’ve heard good things about this, and the person who chose it for us to read loves it and wants to share it with as many people as possible, so it should be fun!

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