If you love animals and reading, why not combine the two and start a pet-themed book club? Book clubs provide opportunities to socialize and learn new things. Through offline and online book clubs for pet lovers, you can connect with like-minded people, read pawmazing books, and trade tips to help you become a better pet parent. Plus, your furbaby gets to expand their social circle too with pet-friendly clubs!
Want to know how you can indulge your love of reading and your love of pets at the same time? Read on for animal book club ideas and tips on how you can start a book club for pet parents in your own community!
How to start an in-person book club
Starting an in-person book club can seem daunting, but with a little bit of planning and preparation, you should be able to get your idea off the ground! Here’s what you need to consider to successfully run an in-person pet-themed book club:
- Members. You don’t have to look too far to find people who could be interested in joining your book club. Reach out to three friends who are also pet parents and book lovers, and ask them to invite one friend each. Or invite a few other dog parents from your local dog park. It’s OK to keep the size of your club small—this makes it easier to find a venue, decide on a schedule, and have more manageable discussions.
- Venue. Many book clubs meet at libraries, coffee shops, and restaurants. Since your companion animals could be tagging along, the first option may be out, but you shouldn’t have any problem finding an eatery that welcomes four-legged visitors. You could also meet at a pet-friendly park if the weather is nice or take turns hosting at each others’ homes.
- Schedule. For most clubs, meeting once a month works best. This usually gives members enough time to finish a book. Others meet every six weeks or every other month, especially if they’re reading a longer book. You’ll also want to set a specific time for your meetings, e.g., Wednesday lunchtimes or Sunday evenings. Stick to whatever time you decide on and let your members plan their schedules around it.
- Format. How long will each meeting last? How many minutes will be allotted for social time and the book discussion? Who will lead the discussion? Some groups have a permanent leader while others rotate every month. There are also clubs where each member brings a couple of questions.
- Book titles. While it’s good to have a list of titles on hand, it’s better to let the group decide what books you’ll read. Some book clubs talk about potential titles together, while others have a formal nomination or voting process. The former approach should work for most, especially smaller clubs.
- Guidelines. It’s important to set some ground rules before your first official meeting to ensure it runs smoothly. Club members are usually expected to read the book (or at least try to), arrive on time, be kind and courteous, stay on topic, and not hog all the discussion time.
How to start a virtual book club
Thanks to the Internet, you can also host your book club meetings online! While most of the above tips apply to starting a virtual book club as well, here are a few more things to keep in mind when taking your pet-themed book club online:
- Members. With a virtual book club, you have the option of letting people outside your local community join. You can find members by putting the word out on social media and in online communities you’re a part of.
- Meeting platform. You have a number of choices when it comes to the “venue” for your online meetings. Pupular platforms include Zoom, Google Meet, and Discord. Though it isn’t a meeting platform, Goodreads lets you create groups and has discussion boards where club members can connect and “hang out” until the next video call.
- Equipment. You probably don’t need to buy additional equipment to host your virtual book club. Your computer’s webcam and microphone should do, unless they’re broken or really outdated. A reliable Internet connection is important too; you don’t want any freezing or lagging during your meeting.
How to host a pet-friendly book club meeting
You’ve found your inaugural members and everyone’s excited to meet. And that goes for the pets too! If the book club members are comfortable with inviting their pets to join, make it a pet-friendly affair! To make sure your companion animals also have a good time, check out these tips for a pet-friendly book club meeting:
- Before the meeting. Consider hosting an icebreaker event before the first official meeting so your furkids can get to know each other. This can be a super casual meetup at a pet-friendly cafe or park where everyone just hangs out together.
- During the meeting. Prepare treats, toys, and/or activities for the four-legged attendees during the actual book club meeting. Don’t furget to provide blankets, have fresh water available and plan breaks to ensure their comfort.
Having trouble finding a title for your animal book club? Here are some recommendations to get you started!
- Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard. Finding Gobi is the true story of an ultrarunner who meets a stray dog in the Gobi Desert. Gobi the pup follows Dion Leonard for 77 miles, prompting him to bring her home to Scotland with him. When Gobi goes missing, Dion sets out to find the little dog who changed his life.
- Animal Farm by George Orwell. Considered one of George Orwell’s best books, Animal Farm is an anti-utopian satire about a group of farm animals who rebel against their exploitative human farmers. Desiring freedom and equality, they set up their own egalitarian society which later transforms into an oppressive dictatorship.
- Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. One of America's 100 most-loved books, Charlotte’s Web is about the friendship of a little pig named Wilbur and a barn spider named Charlotte. This children’s literature classic is known to make adults shed a tear or two, so ready the tissues.
- A Streetcat Named Bob by James Bowen. Proving that everyone can get a second chance, this book tells the story of James, a homeless, drug addict who meets Bob, an orange streetcat. Through many misadventures, Bob and James develop a true friendship that heals them both and gives them a new lease on life.
With a little planning, some good books and a love of animals, you can create a fun and furbulous book club that'll keep everyone looking forward to their monthly read!
Got a book club meeting coming up and can’t bring your furbaby along for the fun? Book a trusted Pet Caregiver to check in on them while you’re out!