Do you love books and sharing your favorite reads with friends? Are you interested in discovering new books and meeting new people?
If you fall into either of these categories, you might consider starting or joining a book club.
What Is a Book Club?
A book club is a group of people who meet to discuss the books they have read. They might be close friends or perfect strangers, united by their love for the written word.
Usually one book is assigned to everyone in the group, and the book is then discussed at the next meeting (which can be held weekly, bimonthly, monthly, or with any frequency of your choosing).
Book clubs can be an excellent way to meet new people, engage in stimulating discussions, or simply discover new books you otherwise wouldn’t have read. Book clubs will also help ensure that you’re reading regularly, so you can reap all the benefits of picking up a good book.
(Plus, it’s not uncommon for some great food to make an appearance, and that’s always more than enough reason to do anything, right?)
How to Start Your Own Book Club
Maybe you just moved to a new neighborhood or started a new job and are looking to make new friends. Or, perhaps you just want to get your group of friends together more often and bond over some good reads.
Starting your own book club is a great way to connect with people, because even if reading is something we often view as a strictly personal or individual experience, books have the power to bring people together and open important discussions.
If you’re interested in starting a book club, you’ll want to consider some important logistics first. To begin planning, consider the following factors.
1. Decide Who to Invite
Do you want your book club to be open to members of your community? Or do you prefer a smaller circle of old friends, or the moms of your son’s soccer team?
Who you open your book club to is completely up to you. You can even start a book club of just two people—there are no rules here!
But deciding who you invite to your book club is an important first step, since you’ll need to consider the availability of others when deciding when, where, and how often to meet.
If you want to meet new people in your community, you can start by posting flyers in book stores or in Facebook groups to invite people to your book club meetings.
2. Choose When and Where to Meet
If your book club is open to people in your community or people you don’t know very well yet, it’s probably best to start with a public setting, such as a local coffee shop or book store.
If you’re meeting up with friends or people you’re comfortable with, you might take turns hosting at each member’s home, or meet up in a quiet area of your favorite bar or restaurant. Try to set a day and time that works for the majority of your group.
Discuss how often you want to meet, keeping in mind other members’ schedules. If they can’t realistically fit in a new book each week, try meeting bimonthly or monthly. There’s no point meeting every week if only one member was able to finish the book.
3. Determine Your Book Club Goals
Do you and the other members of your club want to learn more about a specific topic? Many book clubs focus on spirituality, for example, or on books that discuss parenting techniques.
Your book club goals might include:
- Finding inspiring new reads
- Reading for spiritual growth
- Learning more about a niche topic
- Discovering new romance/thriller/self-help/other genre hits
- Studying the memoirs of people you admire
- Reading and discussing the books recommended by influential people, such as former presidents or business leaders
All of these bring us to our next topic, which is how you will select the books your club reads.
4. Select Books
When it comes to selecting books for your club, you’ll want to remain as democratic as possible. Nobody likes a book dictator!
And besides, you’ll want members to have some interest in the books that are chosen so that they’ll actually make an effort to read them and make meaningful contributions to your discussions.
Be open to suggestions from all members. You might also hold a vote to determine the next book. Survey creators like SurveyMonkey can be extremely helpful, especially since some members might be shy about speaking up.
When considering the next title, you’ll of course want to consider the costs and availability of the book. Is it available in your local library? Can it be quickly and conveniently downloaded on your Kindle?
Asking members to shell out $12.99 every week for a new paperback might not be a feasible option for everyone (and it’s certainly not doing the environment any favors).
Make Books Accessible
Do your research and give your members information about their options for purchasing, borrowing, downloading, or listening to the book. Book clubs should be enjoyable for all, so help members save time, money, and effort by removing as many barriers as possible.
Some book clubs also focus on certain themes. In the summer, for example, you might choose books that focus on multiculturalism, and in the fall focus on books by minority authors or breakout female writers.
Discuss possible themes with your group, and once you’ve decided on one, have members offer up their nominations for titles.
Still Not Sure What to Read?
Incorporating a celebrity book club’s suggestions into your book club can be a great way to discover some of the best new reads without the need for too much research.
Influential figures such as Oprah Winfrey, Barack Obama, Emma Watson, and Mark Zuckerberg regularly share their recommendations with followers.
(And honestly, if Oprah’s recommending it, it has to be pretty good, right?)
You can also check out some of TCK’s top picks by genre to help you choose your next read.
What to Discuss at Your Book Club
Your book club discussions can be as deep or lighthearted as you want. Most importantly, you’ll want people to share their honest thoughts and opinions about the book.
(Remember that not everyone will love every single book, and that’s okay! That’s the point of the discussion in the first place.)
Here are some general questions you might use to get the discussion started:
- What did you like best about this book?
- What didn’t you like?
- What would you change or improve?
- What feelings did this book evoke for you?
- What do you think the author’s central message is?
- How original do you think this book is?
- Do you think this book was realistic (especially the characters)?
- What did you learn from this book?
- What questions do you have after reading this book?
These questions can help start your discussions, but don’t feel stuck to them. If your conversations branch off into other areas, that’s perfectly alright.
In fact, the point of a book club should be to start meaningful conversations anyway and bring people together by sharing their experiences and viewpoints.
How to Make Book Club Meetings Fun
If your meetings are held at someone’s house, you can make meetings fun by turning them into pot lucks or lunch/dinner occasions.
Everyone can bring something, or, if the host alternates for each meeting, they can be in charge of refreshments for their turn. You might try some fun literary dishes from your favorite books, or make drinks inspired by the title you’ve read.
In addition to food, you can also incorporate trivia games or other activities into your meetings, or simply use the occasion to catch up with friends after discussing your books.
Start Your Own Book Club
Whether you’re an avid reader or just looking to expand your personal library, book clubs offer a fun way to discover great new reads and discuss them with a group.
If you want to start your own book club, be sure to consider the logistics, such as where you’ll meet and how your group will choose books. But most importantly, have fun sharing your love for books and connecting with others!
Are you a member of a book club? What kinds of books does your group read?