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How to Start a Book Club

If you’re searching for resources to help you create an engaging and enjoyable book club experience, look no further. We’ve got a fantastic collection of book club resources, including thought-provoking discussion questions, expertly curated book recommendations, and invaluable tips to ensure your book club is a resounding success.

For many of us, book clubs offer a unique opportunity to connect with others, share our love for literature, and engage in stimulating discussions that challenge our perspectives and broaden our horizons. With busy schedules and endless distractions in today’s world, carving out time to indulge in our passion for reading and engage in meaningful conversations has become more important than ever.

Before you dive into our resources, let’s talk about some tips that will help you create a successful book club experience. After all, a well-organized and engaging book club is key to fostering an environment where members can share their thoughts, opinions, and insights with confidence.

Ten Tips for Successful Book Clubs

  1. Choose the right members: A book club is only as good as its members. Aim to include people who are genuinely passionate about reading and open to discussing different ideas and viewpoints. Consider a mix of personalities and backgrounds to ensure diverse and enriching conversations. If you need members outside your friend group, you’d be surprised how many other local readers would love to join you. Ask your local bookstore or library if you can temporarily place a flyer looking for members. Ask friends who aren’t readers if they have any other friends or co-workers who love to read.
  2. Establish clear guidelines and expectations: Before starting your book club, it’s essential to establish some basic rules and expectations. Discuss how often you’ll meet, where you’ll gather, and how book selections will be made. Make sure everyone is on the same page regarding the purpose and goals of the club.
  3. Create a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere: Encourage all members to participate in discussions, and emphasize the importance of respect and active listening. It’s essential to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions without fear of judgment or criticism.
  4. Encourage preparation and engagement: Gently remind members to read the selected book and come prepared with thoughts, questions, and insights to share. The more engaged and prepared each member is, the more dynamic and rewarding the discussions will be. We recommend having some grace if someone doesn’t finish the book, but decide in advance if you’ll be discussing spoilers even if an attendee hasn’t finished reading.
  5. Keep the conversation focused and on track: While it’s natural for conversations to meander, try to gently steer the discussion back to the book and its themes when necessary. This will ensure that everyone has the opportunity to share their thoughts and insights on the subject at hand.
  6. Embrace different perspectives: One of the most enriching aspects of a book club is the opportunity to hear different viewpoints and interpretations of a story. Encourage members to share their unique perspectives, even if they differ from the majority opinion.
  7. Don’t shy away from challenging topics: Thought-provoking and controversial subjects can lead to the most engaging and enlightening discussions. As long as everyone remains respectful and open-minded, don’t be afraid to tackle complex or sensitive topics in your book club.
  8. Have fun and be flexible: Remember, a book club is meant to be an enjoyable and social experience. While it’s important to have structure and organization, don’t forget to have fun and be open to adapting your club’s format or rules as needed. Encourage members to bring snacks or drinks, and consider incorporating icebreakers or book-related activities to make meetings even more engaging.
  9. Support local authors and bookstores: Whenever possible, consider selecting books by local authors or purchasing your book club selections from independent bookstores in your community. This not only supports local talent and businesses but can also lead to unique opportunities, such as arranging author visits or hosting book club meetings at the bookstore.
  10. Reflect and evolve: Periodically take the time to evaluate how your book club is progressing and whether members are satisfied with the experience. Solicit feedback from your members and be open to making changes to enhance the club’s dynamics, book selections, or discussion format.

Discussion Questions for Book Clubs

Before your book club meeting, it’s helpful to gather a list of questions to keep the conversation productive. We have a list 50 Book Club Questions to help you brainstorm the perfect questions for your discussion.

Good Books for Book Clubs

Sometimes, the hardest part of a book club is choosing the book! With endless options and different reading preferences among book club members, it can be overwhelming to decide on a title. We have several lists that will help you narrow down your options.

Some of the lists are specific to books we know will lead to meaningful discussion, but we also included our personal favorite books of the year, which are usually crowd-pleasers.

How to Choose a Book Club Book

Even with our lists as a starting point, you’ll need to decide how to finalize your pick each month. There are several options, so choose which you think will be the best match for your group.

  1. Rotate picks between members: Each member is assigned a month to choose a book.
  2. Simple vote: Present 3 options and let the group vote. The book with the most votes wins!
  3. Ranked choice voting: Each quarter, provide 6 to 10 options, which can be gathered by the host or suggested by different members. Have each member write down their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices. Tally up all the votes, and the 3 books with the most votes will be your books for the next quarter.

Where to Host a Book Club

Many clubs rotate hosting responsibilities each month, with members either hosting in their homes or determining an alternate location. Other clubs meet at the same home each month because one member enjoys entertaining. If your members would rather not meet in homes, restaurants and meeting rooms within libraries are also great options!

If you have book loving friends around the world, you can even start a virtual club on Zoom!

How many people do you need to start a book club?

The beautiful thing about book clubs is that they are totally customizable. A meeting with five to seven members attending provides a wide range of viewpoints without being overwhelming, but that doesn’t mean it will be perfect for you. Larger groups are harder to schedule, so we’d recommend a set monthly schedule, such as the 2nd Friday of every month. Smaller groups make it a bit easier just to schedule one month in advance while everyone is checking their calendars.

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How to Organize Your Book Club

Our partner, Bookclubs, is a free web and mobile app that helps book clubs stay organized and discover new books. Currently serving over 65,000 book clubs worldwide, Bookclubs provides all the tools you need to start and manage a successful book club:
-Invite members with a single click
-Automated meeting reminders & calendar invites
-Interactive member polls
-Track reading history & host discussions with the free app

Sign up for a free Bookclubs account and create your club today!

Additional Book Club Ideas

One of the Book Girls, Angela, is in a long-running book club that also creates meals themed to the book. If you enjoy food as much as you like to read, this is a fun twist! It’s also fine to only have beverages or drinks and snacks.

If you particularly enjoy one genre, you could start a club focused on those books instead of being more general reads. Book clubs don’t have to be overly serious! For example, you could start a romance readers club or a wannabe detective cozy mystery group!

We hope this guide has given you all the tips you need to start a book club!

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Angela & Melissa

The Book Girls are best friends who jointly read over 200 books per year. We started Book Girls' Guide in 2019 to help others de-stress and find joy through the power of a great book. We do in-depth research on thousands of novels and non-fiction titles each year to provide curated book lists covering a variety of genres.

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