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How to Start Your Own Book Club

Gather a group of friends, decide on a time and place, select some inspirational books, plan a few discussion points, and hey presto! You have a book club!

How to Start Your Own Book Club

A book club is a low commitment, yet highly rewarding, safe space for people to come together and share a love for books and reading. Do you love reading and want to share that passion with others? Why not start a book club? Read on for everything you need to know about how to start a book club.

1. What type of book club do you want to start?

There are many different types of book clubs out there. Some book clubs are very academic, while others focus on the social aspect. You might want to start a book club that focuses on one genre, such as Fantasy, or World War Two fiction. Perhaps you want to read books from only one type of author, for example, American women.

 2. Decide who you want to invite to the book club

Are you envisaging a cozy gathering of only four close friends? Or do you like the idea of a large group of people with different ideas and viewpoints? The size and dynamics of your book club will affect the books you read and when and where you can gather.

How do you assemble the guest list for your inaugural book club meeting? Perhaps you have enough book-loving friends to get the book club off to a good start. You could ask each friend you have invited to bring a friend with them. You could also approach colleagues who you know love to read. If you are eager to extend the book club beyond people you know, post a notice on the bulletin board at your local library.

If you want to include a diversity of perspectives in your book club, you may want to invite people of different ages, genders, and backgrounds. Everyone can bring their varied experiences and world views to the discussions.

 3. Decide where and when your book club will gather

Once you have a rough idea of how many people will comprise your book club, you can decide on a suitable venue. Do you want to take turns hosting the book club meetings at your homes? Or do you want to meet at a “neutral space” like a restaurant, library, bookstore, or book a meeting room at a community center?

You don’t even need to meet in person. Hosting your book club online is an option too. Use video chat services such as Zoom, Skype, or Google Duo to meet up with one another virtually. You can start a WhatsApp or Facebook group for members to communicate about upcoming books, and discussion topics, and plan meetings.

 4. How will you choose books?!

There are essentially two different kinds of book clubs:

  • Single-title: You decide on one or two books that all members read before the next book club meeting.
  • Multi-title: For this format, the different members read different books simultaneously. A pool of books rotates around the book club so everyone can read the different books in the collection over time.

If you are opting for the single-title format for your book club, you should get input from your fellow bibliophiles about what book/s to start proceedings with. Make a few suggestions and then use your discussion portal to discuss which book you should choose.

For multi-title-style book clubs, you can take it in turns to select a couple of books for the book club each month. Alternatively, you can all put two or three books in at the first session and then gradually work your way through them over the next twelve months.

Inspiration for picking book club titles

If you have decided on a particular theme for your book club, choosing the first book/s to start with will be easy! However, if you need some inspiration, there is plenty of it:

  • Check out this list of the top 8 books on BookTok.
  • Sign up with Goodreads for ratings and discussions on thousands of books. If you are going for a specific genre, say crime fiction, Goodreads curates lists of the best books in different genres.
  • Novelist is a great online readers’ resource that offers thousands of themed lists and unique ways to discover new titles.
  • You can also check out the Oprah Book Club, for Oprah Winfrey’s favorite picks.
  • Reese’s Book Club is also a super source of inspiration for potential book club titles.

 5. How will your book club access books?

If you decide on the single-title format for your book club, you need to figure out how everyone will get access to the book of the month.

  • Each member can buy their own copy.
  • Book club members can try to loan the book from their local library.
  • If your book club is local (i.e. not online), you can find out whether your local library or book store has book club kits.
  • Subscribe to a digital book source such as Hoopla or Audible to download e-books. Some of these platforms allow sharing, and some have free e-books to select from.

With multi-title book clubs, the books are in circulation in the book club for some time (up to a year or more). Therefore, each member must purchase the books they are contributing to the collection. Read this post for ideas on where to find great online book deals.

6. Getting the conversation started

So, whether your book club is book-driven or leans more towards a social gathering with wine (and books), you do want to spend some time talking about the books!

Here are a few questions to get the ball rolling with book discussions:

  1. What was your favorite and least favorite part of the book?
  2. Who was your favorite character and why?
  3. Which scene in the book was most memorable?
  4. Was it a page-turner, or more of a slow burn?
  5. How did you feel about the writing style? Where there any passages that you wish you could highlight?

There are also several online resources, such as LitLovers, Reading Group Guides, and Goodreads, for more in-depth book discussion guides, questions, and reviews.

7. The devil is in the details

To get your book club off to a successful start, it is essential to knock down the nitty gritties.

  • How often will the club meet? How much time will everyone have to read the book?
  • When will you meet? For example, the first Thursday of each month.
  • How will book club members communicate in between meetings? WhatsApp group, Facebook group, or email chain?

Here’s to spending many happy hours reading!

What are you waiting for? Go forth and start a book club! We’d love to know how your new book club is going. Please share this post, tag us, and let us know how you got your book club started. Our weekly Save mailer also makes for super reading material if you love tips on how to save money!