The point of a book club is to stretch one's mind, not read the same tired content. Weir says her book club opts for "interesting book choices [that] force me out of my comfort zone."
Some groups vote on books, but others offer suggestions and then the facilitator makes the final call. Some groups have a monthly theme to naturally impose different genres, like science fiction, young adult, historical fiction or best of the previous year. Figuring out a system that works for your group is ultra-important. "Of those people [surveyed] who left a book club due to dissatisfaction, book choice is a major sticking point," Morgan-Witts says.
That said, it's unrealistic to expect every person to be wowed every time. "They're not going to love every book but the commitment is to the group and the process of reading," says Goler, whose groups primarily choose fiction titles, with the occasional memoir thrown in for good measure.
Both Goler and Morgan-Witts suggest identifying book selections at least two or three months ahead of time. "This allows people the time to get the book, circulate it amongst themselves, etc.," says Goler. Some groups plan the schedule a full year in advance, but Goler cautions against that. "That's way too much for a group, in my opinion," she says. "I don't read for what I'm going to be teaching or discussing a year in advance." Not to mention books may come out during the year that your club may wish to read instead.
Although every member is bound to miss occasionally due to illness, or emergency or whatever, encourage regular participation to foster a truly cohesive book group. "The commitment to the book group is not about the book; it's a commitment to the process of reading and the other members," says Goler, who encourages members to show up to meetings even if they haven't finished the book. "You'll still get something out of what the people have to say."