Add New Members to Your Club!

It's time to add new members. But if you've read the rules, you know that book clubs should never more than double in size. 

Why? You might ask. But I have too many people I want to invite in. You might say. Somebody will get their feelings hurt. You might worry. While these questions and concerns are valid, there is a more valid reason to be careful when you add new members.

Hold up, wait a minute...

Remember when I told you about the original book club I joined that was full of teachers who wanted to complain about their students and the amount of grading they had to do that night? Those were great women, all exceptional teachers, but the problem was they couldn’t help themselves! When you get a group that's too large all in one place it inevitably turns into a gossip and catch up session. While this is okay (see hosting) at the beginning of the meeting, it can actually ruin a good book club if it's not kept under control. If you only double your size (start with 4 or 5, end up with 8 or 10) you will always have just enough people to bring different ideas to the table but not too many so that the conversation about the book gets lost.

Key Points to Add New Members

  • Before you can add someone new, each core group member should host at least once.

    You can go around longer if you choose but once is necessary. My FL book club went through two rounds before even considering an additional member; whereas my MD book club was raring and ready to add their people in as soon as they could! 

  • Before asking your candidate to join you should talk it over with the core group members. 

    This is not like some sorority, vote the popular girl in thing! It's just a common courtesy to the original group. That way if there are any concerns (somebody doesn't get along well with somebody or it's somebody's mother-in-law and they will have trouble talking openly in front of her) it'’s brought up before your foot is in your mouth and you have to find a way to "unask" the person you've already asked. Be fair to each other when you add new members. 

  • This point goes hand in hand with the above point - you don’t want everyone in your group to be best friends! 

    Having a group that is too familiar with each other opens a whole new can of worms. Think about what would happen if you got two sets of moms and daughters into a small room with the sole purpose of talking about their opinions? While this could be great Jerry Springer entertainment, it can lead to a lack of respect for each other. I'm not saying it always happens but in my experience it's a sticky situation. 

    The core group may know each other well but the additional members should be people from each of your separate lives. For example, in our current group my mom decided to ask her neighbor to join us, while Susan (another core member) asked her son's girlfriend to jump in. This brought in two new personalities and viewpoints to the discussion that we didn't have before. You want diversity! It's a good thing! Book club discussions are boring when everybody agrees!

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