How to survive a book club

This is the first guest post in our ‘Summer of Events’ and we thought it only fitting to ask Laura to be the first author.

Laura turned up to the second ever meeting of the Urban Coffee book club early last year and has somehow ended up running it, which she justifies to her mum is a good use of her English and philosophy degree.

She works in communications and marketing by day and in her free time helps out with Birmingham Skeptics in the Pub, bakes, writes, reads comic books and tries to go to as much of the weird and wonderful stuff Birmingham has to offer.  It’s fair to say she likes to keep busy, which is why she named her blog Ants In Her Pants. Enjoy.

I’ve attended all but one of the book club meetings at the Church St branch of Urban Coffee Company and along the way I’ve ended up running it.  It’s not the first book club I’ve ever attended, but it is the one I’ve stuck at the longest.  There was the one where I was the only person in attendance, the work club where members ran out to deal with medical emergencies, a lunchtime school book club and an English literature degree, which was practically a three-year book club.  There’s something about Urban’s that makes me want to go back, even when I don’t like the book.

Firstly, lets demolish some book club myths; not all consist of retired ladies reading historical rages-to-riches romance novels.  The Church St one has a range of twenty to sixty year olds, male, female and a range of ethnicities.  Books are chosen by vote; we have a few suggestions on paper and pick one from a cup, allowing serendipity to have the final choice.  Other book clubs have people pitch books and vote.  Ghandi probably wasn’t talking about book clubs, but if you don’t like the choices then be the change you want to see and recommend something else.


Attending for the first time

Look out for people with copies of the book, they’re the group – alternatively check with the venue who will let you know the book club’s spot.  Don’t worry if you don’t finish the book, likelihood is the regulars won’t either.  Be prepared to introduce yourself and say what you thought.  If you’re not keen on talking then don’t worry, no one will force you to talk. Conversely if you have strong feelings join in, you’ll be most welcome.



Put the book out on show, likelihood is newbies are looking for you.  If people are glancing quizzically ask them if they’re here for the book club. Come armed with a book suggestion – unless you’re prepared to see your favourite book ripped to pieces avoid recommending it.  I’ve seen friends nearly come to blows over a book because they had opposing views.


Organisers / people thinking of starting a book club

Chose a spot that is easy for newbie to find you.  Come armed with a set of questions as prompts. These are a few standard; did you like it, would you recommend it, would you read more by the author.  But don’t forget to add some relevant to the book; Amazon reviews, your own thoughts and Wikipedia will help.

But most of all have fun, enjoy reading, don’t take it too seriously.

Have you been to a book club before? what were your thoughts? To find out more about Laura read her blog here.

If you feel you have something to share that our audience would be interested in hearing about, feel free to get in touch to write a guest post. We look forward to hearing from you.


Urban Emporiums | 30 Church Street, Birmingham, B3 2NP