Book Clubs: A Gathering of Community Members

To some, there is nothing better than a good book.  It’s even better when you find someone who has read that book so that you can discuss it, analyze it or even ask questions about plot lines that you didn’t understand.  A book club has all these and more.


“The need for affiliation that drives people to join organizations is part of the evolutionary legacy of living in groups made up of related people for hundreds of thousands of years.” — Gary Bernhard, Ed.D. and Kalman Glantz, Ph.D.




The library, of course, is the logical place to start.  Anything that has to do with books can be found at the library.  Unfortunately, we the advent of hand held reading devices, library may be coming obsolete.  The “old school” readers often frown upon the electronic books because they like the feel of a book in their hands when reading.  Whichever reading medium you choose, you can still meet at the library for your discussion.


A posting in the library, on it’s website and Facebook page, word of mouth…all ways to get readers involved in a library book club.  Many times libraries have rooms available for the public to use, free of charge, so this would be the perfect location. A librarian or community member could lead the group.




Many coffee shops have a very quiet, introspective, stay awhile vibe so they are another perfect place to have a book club.  Many coffee shops have a public bulletin board where they encourage postings of community gatherings. This is a place where information of the book club could be posted.  More likely than not, they won’t mind having a group meet at their location because they will be making money when members buy coffee and baked goods.


“Meeting people and getting involved in new things can make all the difference for you and for others.” — Jane Framingham, Ph.D.


Some coffee shops encourage volunteerism by their workers so a barista may volunteer to run the group.  It would probably be best to ask the manager first about hosting the book club. If they don’t support it, you could advertise that you will meet there and then find another location for the discussion.




Youth that are excited about reading should be supported in their passion.  Any way to support or host a youth book club should be encouraged. Notices can go out through schools.  Notices can be posted in libraries. During the summer, book clubs can be offered through community camps.  Some communities require community service hours for high school students so book club leader would be a perfect job for a high school student who loves reading and working with children.

Teachers may offer this before and after school as an enrichment program.  




Another great community in which to start a book club is the workplace.  It can bring together co-workers who don’t know each other very well, but who share a love of reading.  It is a great way to spend time with colleagues in a non-work related situation. The fact that it is not focusing on the work you do, it makes it more relaxed and can give you a great opportunity to bond and get to know each other.   Anyone can lead the club and books could be voted on. A different co-worker could lead each meeting and the meeting place could be at the workplace or at someone’s home.


“Belonging to groups, such as networks of friends, family, clubs and sport teams, improves mental health because groups provide support, help you to feel good about yourself and keep you active.” — Rick Nauert PhD




Of course, a home-based book club is also a great choice.  Getting together with friends and discussing a wonderful book can be a great gathering.  Friends of friends can be invited, thereby growing a community and introducing people who may not know each other.  Since there is a focus to the gathering, it can be easier for less outgoing people to speak and get to know others. Throw in some coffee, wine, or a potluck and you a great get-together.


Running Clubs for a Healthier Community


If you have ever gone on a run or run in a race, you know the feeling of complete exhilaration when you finish.  There is nothing like it; it makes your feel invincible. Anything that makes you feel that good should be spread to others.  Even if you have never run a step, you can give it a try. Every journey starts with the first step.




Many people whom start running may have a hard time getting out for regular training runs.  They may not continue to run because they aren’t motivated to get out there. Joining a running club may be just the thing to help runners get out there, get healthy and be social.  Weekly runs can be on a set schedule so that everyone will know where and when to meet.   

It can be an appointment that is set just like a hair or doctor’s appointment; neither of which you would want to miss.  Also, if you hit a plateau with your running, others in the club may give you that extra push you need to get to the next level.  There is nothing like getting a pep talk from someone who has been in your shoes to get your moving.


“New research further bolsters the positive effects of social contacts, finding that participation in different social groups can improve mental health and help a person cope with stressful events.” — Rick Nauert PhD




Exercise is very important for our health and long life.  Sitting on the couch is not helping anyone’s health routine.  “Studies have shown that running can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, and a host of other unpleasant conditions” ( The club can encourage their members to get out there and get moving, thus promoting a healthy lifestyle.  Most runners are also healthy eaters so they can share products or recipes that they have tried. A healthy potluck each month could also be planned.




If running is something you’ve wanted to try or something you’ve been doing for awhile, what better way to socialize than to include something that you love.   You will immediately have something in common with others in the group. They can give you tips on warm ups, stretches, best sneakers, etc. After a long (or short) run, the group may get together to socialize at a local café or home.  Guest speakers can even be invited to share their knowledge of running. Lifelong friendships can be forged. The once a week run may blossom into several other runs or plans to do races as a team.


“As humans, we seem to have a built-in expectation that we will fit somewhere, that people will acknowledge us and care about us, that, in short, we will be in a band.” — Gary Bernhard, Ed.D. and Kalman Glantz, Ph.D.




There are a myriad of races whose sole purpose is to raise money for different charities and social actions.  Many for-profit races have teams of racers that run for a specific charity or group. This is can be a huge motivator if it is a cause near and dear to your heart.   It is a win-win because the charity is getting donations and the runner is getting in a healthy run. As the teams run through the streets and down the roads, they are bringing an awareness of their charity or group to spectators.  




If you are a runner and enjoy working with children, you can set up a kids’ running club in your community.  This could be especially useful for the middle school and high school ages because they often don’t have an outlet for their energy or may not have supervision after school and during the summer.  Holding a weekly run at a school track or local park can give them somewhere to go and give them a sense of belonging. Nothing says come be a part of something like a sport that anyone can try.


“It may be hard work, but it is worth the effort. Regular exercise can help you feel more positive.” — Jane Framingham, Ph.D.

How Music Can Bring a Community Together


It is said that music is the universal language.  It matters not what language a song is sung in, everyone can get up and dance with smiles on their faces; enjoying the tune and reveling in whatever cultural the song comes from.  Since many cultures can be united with music, it is sure to bring a community together.


“Researchers have documented that listening to music can be effective for reducing pain in people who generally have high levels of anxiety. Investigators discovered music can be used as a distraction and is effective among those who can easily become absorbed in cognitive activities.” — Rick Nauert PhD


Listening to music and singing together has been shown in several studies to directly impact neurochemicals in the brain, many of which play a role in closeness and connection.  Music has also been linked to dopamine release, involved in regulating mood and craving behavior, which seems to predict music’s ability to bring us pleasure.” ( If you have ever been to a sporting event and everyone starts singing the national anthem, you have experienced that feeling.  




If there is a gathering spot in a town (the town green, a football field, a shopping area, etc), it is a perfect place to have concerts.  The high school band and chorus can perform. Local musicians who are trying to get there name out there. A community band that just enjoys getting together to play.  Any of these groups would probably perform for free. Community members can bring their blankets and a picnic and enjoy some great music.  


If there is a local band that charges for their performance, the community can apply for grant money or take up a collection at the performance.  There could be a minimal $5 a blanket charge. Some towns may have money in their recreation department budget to cover the charge.  




Many towns have started yearly town contests, similar to the popular “American Idol” show.  People within the community audition and are promoted to the next level or are politely given their walking papers.  As they continue to perform at each level, the same process repeats itself. The performances are open to the community with or without a small entrance fee.  At the end of the contest, there is a winner chosen and a concert of the top participants. The winner then becomes a judge for the next year.


“I would argue that when you listen to the music of your childhood, you can feel grounded, transported back in time. It can help you to recall the comfort of a childhood home, neighborhood, or community.” — Alena Gerst, LCSW, RYT




Many communities have outdoor Farmer’s Markets and this is a great place to showcase local talent.  Again, musicians and groups that are trying to get their name out into the public may perform for free and have a donation bucket while they sing and play.  A Farmer’s Market is already bringing the community together with its products. The music may encourage visitors to stay longer…maybe even bring a picnic lunch or dinner.




Anyone with a Smartphone can make a music video these days.  There are many apps and programs that make it very simple. A great example of this is if a school group gets together to make a video.   It immediately bonds them together to work on something that has a finished product. Everyone involved wants it to turn out well because lots of people will be watching it.  This is a great place for students, who may not know each other or who come from different interest groups, to work together and get to know one each other. It may become a yearly tradition for, say, a senior class to make one of these videos before going off to college and jobs.


“Use headphones or earbuds if that helps you focus or shut out external noise. Give yourself permission to only listen to the music, without simultaneously checking your email or refreshing your Facebook feed.” — Maya Benattar, MA, MT-BC, LCAT


Younger students would also love this activity.  It could be offered as an after school club or a yearly talent contest.  It is another great place to bring together a community that may not have gotten to know each other without this offering.  It is great to see children banding together over a love of a favorite musician or group.