Started a Book Club and Nobody Is Reading? Do This
Stop making them feel guilty
If you love books, you likely want to share the joy of reading with other people. One of the best ways to do this is by starting a book club.
There’s no “perfect way” to run one of these groups. The most common method is picking a book and getting together regularly (typically every week or month) to discuss your thoughts on the material.
If you’ve tried this before, you’ve probably realized that although people join your group with the best intentions, they tend to find the book less appealing a few days later. Then you get the excuses… or worse: silence.
Nobody is reading. What should you do?
This is exactly what happened to a couple of friends. They started a reading group of about 20 people and they all bought a copy of a very good book. They created a reading calendar and even had a WhatsApp group to share what they were learning.
But although everyone was excited at first, people simply stopped sharing: nobody had read the assigned sections.
My friends tried everything to encourage the group. They were diligent in reminding them about what chapters they were supposed to be reading; they shared articles on the importance of reading. Nothing seemed to work. When they told me about this, I advised them to change their strategy:
The best way to encourage others is by setting an example
I asked them to stop worrying about what others were doing. What they needed to do is simply read and be genuinely excited about what they were learning. I told them to share with the group their discoveries, favorite quotes, and personal reflections. The key was contributing, not demanding. I asked them not to push people to read and never make anyone feel bad because they weren’t “keeping up”.
And it worked.
When other members of the group realized how good the book was, they started getting curious. At first, they just responded to the things my friends were sharing; soon after they started wanting to discover things for themselves. Quickly, the same people that were ignoring everyone in the group started reading and contributing too.
Why? Because the love of reading is contagious.
Some of us had the joy of growing up in homes where books were always front and center. We got to see our parents genuinely be delighted by learning through reading.
But others of us only remember the pain of finishing the books our teachers were forcing us to read. To some of your friends, reading is a synonym for homework. They might not understand how, after being done with school, you would want to sit down and spend your precious free time reading a heavy book instead of watching with a fun movie.
You might know the joy of reading for pleasure, but many people don’t. Stop making them feel guilty. The best thing you can do is set an example and share the love. All you need is a good book and a little bit of patience. Who knows how many of your “not-a-reader” friends will be transformed into book worms. No one will be more surprised than themselves!
A version of this article was originally published in Spanish on Medium.