If your group is like most others, you tend to have a set schedule of meeting once a month or so at someone’s home for snacks or a meal and book discussion. As a rule, this is a great way to make sure that everyone can easily mark a date on a calendar and plan to be at each event. But if you’ve been meeting for a while, you may also find yourself a bit bored with the routine. What you may need to liven things up is a field trip.
Field trips are mostly associated with students, and if you have kids you may have even volunteered at your child’s outings a time or two. While a field trip for your book club most likely won’t involve taking a ride on a noisy, bumpy bus, it can accomplish for your group what it’s meant to accomplish for students: enhanced learning in an environment outside the classroom, or in this case outside your home.
What kind of outing could you go on with your book club? The possibilities are truly endless. You can start by looking for any kind of tie in to the book you are reading. You can also do just the opposite: find something your group may have fun doing, and look for a book that offers a tie in. Here are a few ideas for places to look for these tie ins:
Is there a new release movie coming up you think your group would enjoy seeing? If the movie is adapted from a novel, you can read the book first, see the movie, then go for dinner or dessert and coffee after to discuss what you read and how it differed from what you saw.
Is there a restaurant in your area that matches the theme of a book you’re reading? Many ethnic restaurants feature waiters in traditional clothing, photos of the homeland on the wall, and ethnic music, as well as food that gives you a taste of what’s on the menu for characters in a book.
Are there stage productions you would like to see that are based on a novel? Some of my favorite stage adaptations of books have been Huckleberry Finn, The Secret Garden and Peter Pan. Your local theater groups usually post what’s coming up for a whole season, so you can choose a play and plan ahead to read the book.
Is your local art museum featuring a special or regular exhibit that ties into the theme of a book you’d like to read? What other museums are in your area? In my hometown of Portland, for instance, I can find museums dedicated to advertising, Japanese and Chinese immigrants to the area, sports, architecture, art and more. There’s even a 24 hour Church of Elvis!
Can you travel to a nearby historical site? Look for Civil War battlefields, pioneer homesteads, homes of famous authors and so much more.
One of my favorite field trips I went on with my book club came when we read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, which focuses on eating locally. Our book club members organized a wine tasting day with a pot-luck lunch focused on ingredients we bought at a local farmers market. We talked to the winegrowers, sipped a bit of their wine and ate incredible food. Over lunch we talked about the book and what we had learned about eating locally as well as ideas we had for changing our food habits going forward. The pictures from that day show all of us with big smiles. The event was such a hit we knew that we’d be looking at other opportunities to take our group on the road at least once a year.
With just a little thought and creativity you’re bound to come up with lots of ideas with appeal to your book club members. Then you can file them away and pull out one or two each year for your group to focus on. Not only will you be keeping boredom at bay, you’ll be creating special memories that you will remember for a long time to come.