Book clubs are a wonderful way to reinvigorate your club’s membership and keep alumnae regularly engaged. Smith book clubs have sprung up globally. See Best Practices for ideas on boosting attendance and celebrating diversity. Also, be sure to check out Smith’s online book club program, Smith Reads.

Starting a Book Club

Smith club presidents often find that book clubs attract alumnae who don’t traditionally affiliate with their Smith clubs but are interested in continuing their education and connection to the college. Book clubs require a few basic ingredients:

A good book

It is best to let the point person choose the group’s first book and have participants come to the first meeting with their book suggestions. Paperbacks are a good first choice for affordability and portability. Independent booksellers sometimes offer book club discounts.

A little time

It is standard practice to have a month to read a selection. Meetings should go for about an hour and a half, with the first hour devoted to discussion and the last half hour devoted to socializing.

A regular schedule and a bit of publicity

After the book list has been created, it should be mailed to participants and included in the club’s newsletter and web page announcements. Rotate locations and discussion leaders.

Prompting questions

It’s good to have two or three prepared questions to prompt discussion. Book publishers often offer discussion guides.

Three willing volunteers

The Point Person: This volunteer will field calls from interested members and maintain the book club membership list, book list and location schedule.

Book Discussion Leader: This volunteer position will rotate through the book club. This person will prepare questions and a short biography of the author.

Hostess: This position rotates and should not be either the point person or the discussion leader.

The perfect spot

Consider holding your event at a local library at the same time as their “Young Reader’s Circle” or other “Read Aloud” programs. This will allow mothers of small children to attend without arranging for child care. As a bonus, this will also reinforce the love of reading in the next generation.

Reading Suggestions

Submit your group’s reading list suggestions to alumclub@email.smith.edu.

For ideas, browse current and past Summer Reading selections for entering students, read faculty book recommendations compiled by The Friends of the Smith Libraries and check out faculty and alumnae books featured in the Smith Alumnae Quarterly. The Gate also regularly feature updates on the latest books from faculty and alumnae.