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Ten Tips to Spice Up Your Book Club

Aloysius Slim By Aloysius Slim Published on July 3, 2017

We’ve all been part of a slowly stagnating book club. Let's face it, there comes a time when you could just stay at home and write out your fellow book club members' opinions, rather than going to all the trouble of actually listening to them. It's nobody's fault, sometimes things just get stale. 

A good book club is like a good marriage; it takes work. Also, like a marriage, a book club is essentially a bundle of rules that govern something that used to be fun. Fortunately, there are plenty of things you can do to avoid that feeling of attending the same book club every month.

Get to Know One Another All Over Again

Part of the reason a book club gets old is because your participants get to know one another too well. Dedicate one meeting of the book club to introductions and reintroductions. Have everyone talk about their favourite books.

Explain to one another why everyone's selected favourite books are incorrect. Drink heavily. Get belligerent.

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Fig. 1: Pictured above, the scene at any number of book clubs every month.

Send Revealing Photos

One common of piece of advice for any troubled relationship is, “You should text more often.”

Get your book club members’ hearts racing by sending them photographs of out-of-context paragraphs from the book you’re reading. For bonus points, read ahead and send them things that may appear to be spoilers (or are deliberately misleading).

Remember, anger is a form of passion.

Read Hemingway

Choose a Hemingway book, any Hemingway book. We’d recommend The Sun Also Rises or Death in the Afternoon.

Drink every time you encounter two adverbs in consecutive sentences.

Slum It

There are few things that can reignite a failing relationship quite like hate. Fuel the flame by feeding it the occasional book you know to be bad and finding out exactly what flavours of loathing you have in common (as well as who among your book club could enjoy reading anything).

For bonus points, mention casually that another member of the book club who has been quiet until now also loved it and was effusive about it until other people started talking.

Read Dickens

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Fig. 2: Serious literary character, Dick Swiveller.

Drink every time you encounter a character whose name forces you to stop and think, "Wait, what?" Some favourites include:

  • Dick Swiveller
  • Serjeant Buzfuz
  • Wackford Squeers
  • Mr. M'Choakumchild (the school teacher)
  • Fanny Cleaver

If You Need Help with The Book Thief

Just as any good relationship is plagued by the unanswerable question of, “But what do you want to eat?” every good book club is plagued by the question of, “But what do we want to read?”

For some reason, any time there is a book club in want of a book, there will be some poor attendee who can think of no better recommendation than The Help, The Book Thief, and The Kite Runner. These are the perpetual book club killers. Do not let them have their way.

There will also always be one person for whom The Secret is a pivotal text.


Drink every time someone mentions that a book won an award.

If that award is raised as a counterargument to an otherwise reasonable critique, finish your drink.

Try hard not to die.

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Fig. 3: E. L. James maintains her stranglehold on the book-club-going public.

Key Party

Have every member of your book club bring a book that they would recommend to anyone. Tear off the cover and any identifying title pages, then put the book in a big glass bowl. Before everyone leaves, have them fish around in the bowl and pick a book at random.

Take someone else’s book home and show it a good time. 

Complain loudly when it inevitably disappoints you. If you get your own book, disguise it by critiquing it.

Invite a Local Author

Read a book by a little known local author, then invite them to speak at your book club. When things inevitably turn nasty, you should contrive a complicated scenario whereby your book club is inadvertently responsible for their death. Then, you can either turn your book club into an impromptu murder mystery weekend or have everyone enter a pact to keep the killing a secret.

After all, the book club that slays together...

Put It Down

As with a difficult relationship, sometimes you need to say your farewells and put the poor suffering thing out of its misery. Unfortunately, nothing is as resilient as a book club you don't want to keep going. There are few silver bullets that will guarantee a book club doesn’t survive, but they do exist. If you are absolutely certain that you do not want a book club to recover, deploy one of the following:

A particularly resilient book club may survive one of these books, but there are few that could survive two in quick succession.

Finnegans Wake should only be deployed in case of emergency.

Aloysius Slim spent his youth apprenticed to a cobbler. One morning, while mending a customer's shoe, he found that the sole had been padded with folded newspaper to keep the rain ... Show More