Losing Book Club Members: How to Respond?

If your book club meets long enough, you are likely to lose members. My mother-daughter book club recently faced this situation when we lost four of our 10 members in quick succession. Two moved away, and two decided to commit their time to other activities.

After seven years of sharing great books and even better discussions, the six of us left knew we had to readjust. These are the choices we looked at:

  • Disband the group
  • Add new members
  • Continue on with a smaller club

Fortunately, no one wanted to disband the group. Our daughters will graduate from high school in almost two years, and for the moms, it’s more important than ever to be able to discuss issues that may be on our daughters’ minds. Plus, all of us really like scheduling regular time to see each other during our busy lives.

We opted against adding new members, as well. With two years to go until the girls head off for college, we want to spend more time getting to know each other better as opposed to expanding our social circle.

Our choice then, was to continue on as we were, but with a few changes. With a smaller group, our meeting place is more flexible. We’ve decided to meet for dessert at a local ice cream store instead of over dinner in each other’s homes. We’ve also vowed to throw in a few more fun events, like going to movies and catching a play at a local theater. With fewer members we expect coordinating our schedules will get easier.

Our choice wouldn’t be the best for everyone. I know of another group with daughters the same age as ours that decided to add several new members when their ranks pared down. The influx of new moms and new daughters livened up their discussions and is keeping them energized.

The key to surviving and thriving when you lose members is to find what works best for the book clubbers who remain. Ask yourselves: What’s most important for us when we meet? Do we want more social time? Do we have enough people to generate a lively discussion?  Can our conversations go more in-depth when we have fewer people?

And while I never like to see reading groups go away, you may find that your club has honestly run its course. The decision may not be easy, but ultimately, it’s yours to make.

Mother-daughter book club cupcake photo

Our mother-daughter book club celebrated the last time we were all together with a trip to a local cupcake shop.



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