By Alexandra Booth

If you’re interested in trying something new this summer, try starting a book club. It allows you to spend time with friends or get to know new people, all while enjoying anything from the classics to the brand new bestseller on the shelf.

There are different elements to consider when starting a book club. First and foremost is members. This could provide an opportunity to branch out and invite people who you don’t know as well and ask them to bring a friend to get more variety in the discussion.

“We reached out to women whom we knew but were not in our immediate circle of friends so that we could have a more diverse group,” said Shannon Carlton, who started a book club with friends four years ago. “It was really a concerted effort in the beginning to reach out to new members and ask them to bring a friend.”

Book clubs are best kept small to a core group of around 8-12 people. Everyone should have the ability to share his or her opinion.

Decide the genre or theme of books of focus. Fiction, poetry, autobiographies: There are numerous options to choose from. Book clubs can even be based on authors, such as Stephen King or Jane Austen.

Location, location, location. In picking a place to meet and chat, homes are popular where members can take turns hosting. Other hot spots include libraries, clubhouses, churches and restaurants. Also, set a regular meeting time, like the first Monday of every month.

Take advantage of available resources. Overdrive, a library app, has a lot of books available from the library and is a great free resource. It allows you to borrow eBooks and audiobooks from your local library. Overdrive can be used on any tablet like a Kindle or Nook, a smartphone, or even on a Mac or Windows computer. You can also purchase eBooks or audiobooks on Barnes & Noble or Amazon online if you’d rather own the book. You can also borrow book club bags from the library to get started.

No matter what you discuss, where you meet, or who’s in your group, the important thing is to open yourself up to the world of knowledge and adventure books can take you to.  So challenge yourself and learn more; get lost in a good book!

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Kelly Legg has been writing for the Osprey Observer as a freelance writer for three years, and has recently taken on the role of managing editor for the Christian Voice newspaper. She graduated in 1989 from Florida Southern College with a B.S. in Communications. She currently resides in Riverview with her husband and three children.