Thursday, 14 July 2011

So about the Bookclub....

Every time I mention the Bookclub in a blogpost I get a request (or 2 or 3) about the club and how it works. So here goes:

There are two types of Bookclubs - in the one type all the members read the same book for the month, then get together and have a rather serious discussion about the book. This is not the model the Bookclub I belong to use. Wayyyy to serious for us. We use the "stokvel" model . The discussions is much lighter and not totally about books and there is some good food and wine involved.

The principle is simple - we get together once a month - in general on the first Tuesday of the month, sometimes on the second but no later than this (the choice is the hostess'). We are 11 members so our cycle runs for a year as we do not get together in January due to the holidays. When you join the club you commit to being a member for the full cycle and if you decide to leave before the cycle is completed, you commit to buying yourself out by paying the remaining members until the end of the cycle. At the end of each cycle (about a month or 2 before the end) members get the option of resigning for the next cycle in order to give the others time to recruit new members for the next one. We each contribute R50 per month (but if you have less members this amount will have to be bigger) for one member to buy books with.We are seldom all present for every bookclub, but we just repay back if you missed one.

At the beginning of every cycle we use our list of members, organized alphabetically with a number for each, to create a list from This list then gets assigned to the months that follow and gives you your turn in the next year. At every get together we give our R50 to the member that will host the next club. She then buys from the R550, 00 books totally to her choice. People buy where they want to - some from the web, some from second hand shops, but most from Exclusive Books as we are registered with a branch as a bookclub and they offer huge discount for book clubs - we can basically spend R690,00 in books with our discount and pay R550,00 if all books are fiction. Most girls buy fiction, but we do have the odd Recipe books, decorating books, biographies and art books in the mix. These books then get added to a list with numbers and columns for lending books and returning books. We have a nice big crate where the books are stored in and this is handed over with the file with all our documents in to the next hostess. So you have a nice huge library to lend from and once a year you can spend a nice large amount on books of your choice.

When you host Bookclub you cook supper for the girls (some clubs work on morning tea or whatever), and supply all the drinks etc. So you only worry about this once a year - the rest of the year you go out to a nice dinner with friends - and no worry about taking anything but the books you have lent and your R50 along. In general we chat until everybody is there, then have supper and talk about whatever - have lots of laughs and sometimes lots of wine, and only after that we turn to books. We each talk about what we have read the month and the hostess shows the new books and tell us why she chose them. The other members then have first choice to read the new books. We sometimes literally raffle new books off for turns to read if popular new bestsellers, as has happened to "the Glass Castle" this year.

We have quite a couple of rules, and these I think evolve as time goes on - but one is that if you loose or damage a book, you have to replace it. It is also your responsibility to sign back the books you have lend - thus a type of honour system. We have never really lost books, but I guess you will have to form a control system if this does happen. We also have a little note book that we write all the books in that has been bought for the club through the years as books get taken out after a while and new members might buy books that have already been in the club. Every once in a while when the crate is filled to the brink at going home time, we do a clean out at the next bookclub. We take all the books out, place the last year's back and the rest out on the floor. Each member can the put any books she might still want to read back into the crate - the rest is returned to the owners. When a member leaves the book club, she in general takes her books out, unless she has just recently had her turn, in which case she might have to wait for her books for a full cycle, or the club might decide that she can take them (as we did recently in the case of a girl immigrating). Sometimes a member will buy a book that she loved and want to share with the club. We then just simply add it to the list and the library.

I was not a member when this club was initially started, but I am told that they started with each member bringing two of her own books to put in the crate. (this was 7 years ago) The club started out as a group of friends that was looking for a fixed date every month to meet. By the time I joined they were mostly moms with small kids and the group also had members that were friends of friends. This combination proved to be rather boring subject matter and at the end of the cycle when 4 moms resigned we made the decision that no young moms can join in the new cycle and our first older girls (close to 50 years of age) joined as well as 1 young unmarried girl. It worked out like a blast and we had such great times together that we now keep the group diversified.  At the moment we have 4 50 plus girls, 2 unmarried girls, 2 married girls without kids (one is pregnant) and 3 moms with small kids. So the talk is diverse, fun and believe me, never stops. I know that some bookclubs have had nasty moments, but I believe the diversity of our club is key to the success of it.

So I look forward to seeing my bookclub friends every month - I see about 3 of them socially outside of the club as regular friends, but the rest I see that once a month over a glass of red wine and some books and bloody good food. A highlight every month. And superb books to read. Possibly the only reason I do not own a Kindle or such yet.

BTW - if you are seriously thinking of starting one, pop me an email and I will send you our master lists to get started.

So do you belong to a bookclub? Do you work on the same principles? 


  1. A Daft Scots Lass14 July 2011 at 09:56

    Its pretty involved actually.  I just thought you birds sat around slurping wine and giggling about the books you're "going to buy".

  2. I don't belong to a book club because I don't read books - the only ones I have read was the Harry Potter franchise but other than that, no.

  3. LOL! We actually read - I try to do about 3 books a month but some of the others do more. It is also quite acceptable to simply say, I did not read anything this month, and have another sip of wine. But it is pretty social.

  4. I would LOVE to belong to a bookclub BUT the thought of all that organising does my head in... and the thought of keeping all those books for a month makes me twitch :)

    Yes, I have issues.

    But an invite to a supper club? oooh, that sounds divine.

    Q - with the advent of the Kindle, do you guys copy books to each
    other's e-readers? I ask because I am SOOOO very much against this
    practise and yet I've heard of other bookclubs doing it, and I'm afraid I
    got up on my soap box and had myself a little speech :)

    I need to start something crafty - I read about these things on the blogs where once a month they do something - each one gets a chance to host and teach/ show something they know how to do and get supplies so everyone does it and learns something new. And indulges their inner craftaholic :) Speaking of which, last night I made an airplane! I was SO chuffed with myself :)

  5. The organizing is actually very minimal once up and running (and I have all those sheets for you) ;-) The books are in 1 crate only - nothing for a month.

    And funny enough, we had the kindle talk the other night - only one of us have one. The only reason the rest of us have not got one yet, is because we have access to all the bookclub books and therefore do not really need a Kindle.

    But yes, to me that is like copying a cd or DVD - not on. The writers need their money to keep writing.

  6. Ag this makes me miss our bookclub. I think you are right. Diversity is key

  7. Some of my fondest memories the last couple of years have been made at bookclub.  Our first little group was awesome but unfortunately it dwindled due to a number of reasons.  I belong to another bookclub now which is quite a bit more serious.  We pay R100 a month to the person who is going to host it next and then that person gets to spend the R800 on any books they want.  Once the cycle is done you can take the books out that you buoght and keep them.  I enjoy bookclub, it forces me to read. 

  8. Great way to do a book club! I just don't get down to reading anymore... I have a stack of books on my bed stand!

  9. Lynette Jacobs16 July 2011 at 11:16

    My reading are left for when we are on holidays...I get awfully anti social when I read;-)  Your book club sounds like a lot of fun.


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