How to Start a Book Club

Photo: Classhelper

Participating in a book club is a fun and inexpensive way to socialize, meet new people, develop friendships and enjoy your love of reading and books with others. If there aren't any book clubs in your area, you could be the pioneer and start a book club of your own – it's easier than you might think.

Decide when to meet: determine how often your book club will get together. Some groups meet once a week, some every other week, and some get together once each month. Regardless of the frequency you decide on, you'll wan to set a regular meeting time right from the start. If your book club has ten members, it will be impossible to coordinate that many different schedules. Starting a book club with a predetermined meeting time (the first Thursday of every month for example), allows people to plan for the meetings in their own schedules.

Get the “founding members” together: if possible, start a book club with two or three friends. Ask co-workers, parents of your children's friends, church members, etc. This simple word of mouth advertising may be enough to recruit all of the members to complete your club – and at the very least, the first two or three people who join your club can help you find additional members through their connections, as well.

Advertise for additional members: if you don't generate enough interest from word of mouth advertising, or you have recently moved and don't know anyone, you can create a flier or place an ad in the local newspaper or Craigslist classifieds for your town. Try hanging fliers at the library, schools, your work, church, internet cafes, and bookstores.

Hold an introductory book club meeting: you may want to have an “open” meeting for anyone who is interested in joining a book club. If you have more people than you want for your book club, you can always split up into two or more clubs. During the introductory meeting, it's a good idea to discuss ground rules for the group. For example:

  • how will books be chosen
  • where will meetings be held
  • will everyone take turns hosting and providing refreshments?
  • who will lead the discussions
  • is there a requirement for commitment

Talking about these things now will eliminate potential problems later, and help people decide if they really want to commit to the book club.

Select the first book: during the introductory meeting, determine the first book to read. If you're meeting weekly or biweekly, determine how many pages or chapters everyone should read before the next book discussion meeting. If your group meets monthly, you should plan to finish the book before you meet again.


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Guest's picture

You'd be surprised how many authors will visit your book club (or call in for a discussion.) I visited nearly 100 clubs last year -- and more this year now that my novel, STANDING STILL, is in paperback. Always check their website --and look for debut novelists.

Kelly Simmons

Guest's picture

I was in a book club for 3 1/2 years and our only rule for choosing books was that the book had to be available in paperback. That did two things 1) made it more likely that a club member would be able to get the book from the public library without a huge wait and 2) more likely that a used copy could be found at a used bookstore or online. We chose books 2-3 months in advance, so people had plenty of time to explore these two avenues. Knowing that we could keep book acquisition costs reasonable was a big help to the book group.

Julie Rains's picture

I've been in a book club for the past couple of years and love it! What I like best is learning about people and personal stories that the books prompt them to tell, generally relevant -- but it doesn't matter as we have a small group and off-topic discussions are allowed. The person who picks the book is usually responsible for leading the discussion; otherwise, things can stall. Like KC we try to pick a book that is easily available at the library or inexpensively elsewhere. Thanks Kelly for the mention -- we have read debut novelists before (The Thirteenth Tale) and I'll mention yours as well.

Guest's picture

Our local library offers services and meeting rooms for bookclubbers. Your local library may too.