Here at FYA, we have a lot to celebrate. We have a store! We have lots of books to read, and some of them will be good! We have commenters not at all like these people! I have three champ cans in my fridge! (Uh, make that two.) There's definitely a lot of great shizz happening, but out of everything, I think I'm most spazzed about the growing community of FYA book clubs, otherwise known as Our Plan for Worldwide Domination.
Y'all, there are so many book clubs! And we have YOU to thank for them. In the wise words of Irene Cara in the "Flashdance" theme song, you guys took yr passion and you MADE IT HAPPEN. It's incredible to think about these pockets of LadyNerds (and a few SirNerds) meeting across the country (and the world!) to convo about books, swoon over fictional characters and throw back a few cocktails. It just makes me TINGLE WITH HAPPINESS. So today, in celebration of our impending global takeover, I'd like to introduce you to the oldest FYA book club, the Austin, TX branch, and share with you some of their secrets for success.
A year ago this month, the Austin FYABC met for the first time at The Highball, a classy bowling alley/karaoke bar. Thanks to an abuse of FYA's social media power by yrs truly, we had a pretty big turnout for our first meeting, and we've managed to retain many of the original members while constantly adding new faces. I mean, just look at these beautiful people:
We even have a boy who shows up sometimes! A REAL LIVE BOY!
Like any club, our strength lies in our members, and I'm lucky enough to live in a city teeming with some really cool YAngelists. They get 99% of the credit for making the Austin FYABC so fabulous, but the other 1% lies in the following factors.
1. LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION
It should go without saying that the club that drinks together stays together. But beyond that, you should pick a location that's conducive to conversation; a place where everyone will feel comfortable. As the Austin FYABC grew, it became difficult to find a bar where we could actually hear each other. And then we discovered this adorable airstream trailer at Red's Porch, and we knew we'd found our home. I mean, look how cozy it is inside!!! And we don't even have to get up to get drinks!
Plus, if we ever find ourselves living in a dystopian world, we know where we can find shelter.
2. COMMUNITY PARTNERS
One of the easiest ways to build up a book club is through partnering with your local library or independent bookstore. Here in Austin, we're lucky enough to work with BookPeople, an awesomely massive store in the center of the city. We're actually listed as one of their official book clubs, and our group often attends their events. Which leads me to...
3. CLUB FIELD TRIPS
One of the best parts about being in an FYA book club is that you never again have to attend a book nerd event by yourself. At the v. least, you now know one other person who will understand the magnitude of, say, John Green coming to yr town. In Austin, the club has met up to see authors like Lauren Oliver and Veronica Roth, and we've attended events like the Austin Teen Book Festival and the Texas Book Festival. And of course, we're going to the midnight screening of THE HUNGER GAMES. At a theater with A LIQUOR LICENSE. (And then we're going to all see it again, a week later. So we can actually remember it this time.)
Not to sound like yr 6th grade speech teacher but communication is important, y'all! If yr club doesn't have a Google or Facebook group yet, you should start one STAT. In Austin, we use our Google group for important messages like meeting info, field trips and the occasional dream from club member Faye:
You know those dreams you have where your closet is filled with a whole bunch of really awesome clothes that aren't your real clothes? And you wake up and you are bummed because you don't actually have those clothes? Last night after a trip to Barnes and Noble in Houston, in which I only bought things for my daughters and nothing for myself, I dreamed that I bought all the YA books that looked interesting to me, put them on these new empty bookshelves that appeared in my possession, and was bragging with joy to some imaginary group of people, "I just bought 15 new YA books, including, like, 5 Sarah Dessens!"
No one else would understand, so I wanted to share with y'all.
Also, to help everyone get to know each other, the Austin FYABC uses name tags, which are obvs dorky BUT a true LadyNerd can always pull them off.
In addition to club meetings, which are obvs. v. serious and intellectual, it's important to occasionally cut loose and party like a real YA! Because nothing promotes bonding like a few bottles of wine and a debate about the inverse relationship in Divergent between Four's hotness and his real name, Tobias.
For parties, I recommend making sure that you have club members who can bake delicious things, like Jenny! Y'all, CHECK OUT THESE SCONES! That's some Downton Abbey shizz right there.
And the most important ingredient (after actual human beings) for any book club?
6. BOOZE BOOZE BOOZE
Oh yeah, and having a book to discuss. That's important, too.
I love being a part of the Austin FYABC, and I hope that our divine wisdom is helpful for those of you building clubs in other cities. And if you wanna brag about how awesome yr club is, send us an email! And upload photos to our Facebook album! And if you want to start a club in yr own city, send us an email!
Party on, YAngelists! Party. On.