Agreed, it wasn’t always like this. Over the months or weeks, the excitement and prospect you once felt in your book club has dissolved into God-knows-where. Now, members hardly show up for meetings or give countless excuses for being MIA. Even those who manage to show up turn the atmosphere into a warzone. Realizing that nobody reads the book of the month asides you could even be the last straw that breaks your already bent back. Phew! All that pretty much sucks.
But, before you give in to thoughts of dissolving the club (after all, you can’t come and kill yourself), take a deep breath and look for solutions.
There really is hope yet, and there’s no need to look too far for solutions. Find some helpful ones below.
Critically assess the situation
At what point did things degenerate? Do you see a pattern playing out over the past few months? Any unaddressed issues? Are you ruling with an iron fist? Is your timing usually right? Do you carry everyone along?
Answer these questions carefully and honestly, then note areas you could work on.
Try not to expect too much too soon, especially if you are a budding book club. Starting off with unrealistic expectations will only lead to frustration. You should set SMART goals instead. For advanced book clubs, necessary adjustments to timing, volume of books read can make a difference. In all, be patient with the process.
Carry out a membership audit
Yes, it has gotten to that.
Who are the members of the book club? Do they fit into the persona for ideal members? You don’t want a fiction lover in a book club where you only read self-help books. You also don’t want members who casually join because they think it’s cool to say “I belong to a book club”? Identify those who don’t participate in book club activities. I mean, why join if you’re going to be an onlooker?
Trash your routine (s)
They’re probably stale anyway.
A little spontaneity won’t hurt. Plus, it’ll make things more fun (talk about getting your groove on!) Try the following to switch things up.
- Instead of reading newly released books, throw things back to the 90s.
- Play games. See a movie (or two).
- Give a new genre of books a shot.
- Introduce a monthly theme.
- Maybe in your next meeting, everyone should bring along a favourite book.
- Change your venue to a refreshing location.
- Prepare a meal mentioned in the last book you all read.
Basically, you get the gist. 🙂
Your members might be facing some personal struggles. Or worse, they’re bored to death by the book of month and have zero motivation to complete it. You could ask the following questions when following up:
- Are you enjoying the current read.
- How’s your reading pace like this month?
- What challenges are you currently facing?
- Do you need my help (if you can’t, politely and honestly say so).
Don’t wait till the next meeting is almost approaching before you reach out. Depending on your book club agenda, following up can also help form closer bonds because, frankly, not everything is about books.
Ccommunicate (a lot)
Don’t assume the other members are aware of your displeasure. If the situation is critical, then it’s high time you had ‘the talk.’ Everyone should agree on a favourable day and time to discussion on the state of things. Who knows? A solution might pop-up or you might get helpful feedback. Remember to do this respectfully.
Note that this should be like a last resort if all else fails. You, my friend, will have to make some tough decisions in the club’s interest.
- Let go of inactive and unserious members. We all understand that life “happens” sometimes, but if the pattern keeps repeating itself, then the club is better off with few members.
- If personality clashes seem to be recurrent, then members have to learn to accord each other due respect or quit the club till they’re ready to put aside differences. Safe space over sourly faces, please.
- Stop accepting membership requests altogether for a while. You wouldn’t want new members to witness or aggravate the situation.
Hopefully, these tips get you the desired results. If you have more, please share.
Meanwhile, if you can’t relate to any of these, and are simply looking to start your fabulous book club, here’s a basic guide.