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Blueprint for a Book Club

Today I want to tell you about Fellowship of the Ring, a book club I created last winter. I started craving rereading Lord of the Rings pretty badly. Maybe it was the Rings of Power subliminal ad messaging everywhere. Maybe it was my boyfriend watching and sending me Nerd of the Rings videos. Maybe it was Maybelline. In any case, I came up with the idea to start a book club where my friends and I could read the trilogy and chat about it on Zoom.

I find reading and talking about books a special kind of rewarding, so I became very excited and reached out to a few friends to see if they'd be interested in the book club. From there, I created a Discord server for the club and pressured everyone to name themselves a character in the original Fellowship (I went with Frodo, the character with the most transmasc vibes).

^This is our Discord server avatar.

The book club has been going strong for months now and we are making our way through The Return of the King. It has been super fun to see my friends regularly and hear everyone's insightful comments about the trilogy. I've never been part of a book club before, and I'm kind of surprised that I pulled it off. So I wanted to share some tips for starting and running a book club

Maybe Start with an Established Friend Group

My boyfriend has a close group of friends, mostly from high school, that were the perfect demographic for pitching a Lord of the Rings book club. I invited these friends to the club and also reached out to friends of mine who might be interested in reading and discussing high fantasy.

I think the book club has been going strong partly because many of its members are already friends with each other. They already have a dynamic and now they have an excuse to see each other virtually. I also really enjoy that the book club also has friends I've made through various walks of life, and now they can all interact and get to know each other.

Start with a Good Book

Once I came up with the idea of a LOTR book club, I felt confident I could find at least a couple of friends who would be into it. A lot of book clubs I've considered joining focused on realistic fiction and books I'd never heard of. This made me hesitant to join because I wasn't super confident I'd enjoy the book. Now that we've started with Lord of the Rings, we can go into other books that might be less well known, depending on the members' tastes and preferences.

Set a Realistic and Regular Cadence for Meetings

When the book club was just getting started, I asked the group how often they'd like to meet and how fast they'd like to read the trilogy. Taking in people's answers, I suggested a compromise in which we would meet every 3 weeks and read around 90-100 every session. As the sessions have progressed, I've checked in with people to make sure the pacing is still working and not too fast or slow.

People Will Drop Out

Up to half of the members who joined the book club aren't attending meetings anymore. This is mostly because they got behind in the reading. Other people have busy schedules or are travelling a lot. I think this is natural and nothing to overthink about. I've organized movie screenings of each book so that if people want to catch up that way, they can.

Future of the Fellowship

After The Return of the King, we plan to read The Hobbit, and after that, we plan to pitch different book ideas and vote on them through brackets to choose the next book. Most of the books members have pitched are in the fantasy and sci-fi genres.

Today I got a package in the mail from one of the members of the Fellowship, The Fair Form of Sauron. Sauron sent me a lovely letter thanking me for leading the book club, saying it's been a highlight the past few months. The letter came with some Lord of the Rings coasters.

I teared up and decided to write this post. Thanks Sauron 🥰


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