You love to read, and you want to discuss books with other people who love to read. You’ve decided to start a book club. What’s the next step?
I started and conducted a book club that continued for over ten years. Currently, I’ve been participating in a book club for over two-and-a half years.
Try out these ten tips to make your book club great.
1. WHO TO INVITE?
Fellow book lovers!
They’ll need to be readers who have both the time to read and to discuss books.
Are you interested in creating a club that focuses on one genre of fiction (for example, mysteries) or several genres? Do you want to include nonfiction selections? You might find it easier to recruit members if the readers are open to a wider range of books.
2. HOW MANY PEOPLE DOES A BOOK CLUB NEED?
It takes only a few people. Four or five regular attendees at each meeting might be just the right number for a discussion in your group. Over time, the club can adjust that number to what works best for them.
Two of the biggest determinants of a club’s size are
As the founder, take the role of coordinator to keep the group together.
3. HOW DO PEOPLE BECOME MEMBERS?
Make it easy. Members accept an invitation to be added to the book club’s mailing list and keep coming to club meetings.
4. WHERE CAN I FIND PEOPLE FOR MY BOOK CLUB?
You might already know a few book lovers who would enjoy participating. And they might know a few people who know other people who…
One woman started her book club with responses from an announcement in her neighborhood’s on-line newsletter.
Another club began via a church newsletter.
If you are a patron of your local public library, ask the librarian if you can post an announcement on the library’s “hard copy” bulletin board or online website.
Choose a welcoming and comfortable location for the size of your group.
5. WHERE TO MEET?
It might be your living room or kitchen, a book store, a coffee shop, a restaurant, a park or your public library.
Wherever you meet, the location should be a welcoming and comfortable spot for the size of your group. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some book clubs have chosen to meet via a video platform such as Zoom rather than go into hiatus.
As the coordinator of the club, make sure the members receive date/time/place/book updates. The courtesy of a reply to the coordinator is always important.
6. WHEN TO MEET?
It depends on what works for the members.
Morning, afternoon, or evening? Once a month or less often? Will you break for summer? Skip December?
Simplify scheduling. For example, meet on the same day of the week on the second Thursday of the month from six p.m. to eight p.m. in a local restaurant.
7. WHAT TO READ?
Each book club determines what to read. Fiction or nonfiction? Mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, romance? Biography, memoirs, history, politics? Other?
Invite guests to arrive at the first meeting of the book club ready to chat about the titles and authors of three of their favorite books plus one that wasn’t for them. Compare notes to find similar patterns within their reading lives.
Do guests want to stay with their favorite genres, expand into new fields, or combine the two? If guests see enough similar interests, then they’re probably ready to form a book club with you.
Is your book club reading a book by a local author? Invite the author to your meeting to talk about the book.
7. WHAT TO READ, Continued.
After members identify the type of books for the book club, they can begin to select titles.
Some book clubs prepare an annual reading list. Other clubs decide from meeting to meeting.
Either way, keep an updated master list of the books your club reads and share it with your members.
The club should select a discussion leader for each meeting. That role is often taken by the member who recommended the book.
8. WHAT IF TIME CONSTRAINTS THREATEN YOUR CLUB?
9. SHARE THE WEALTH. FIND GOOD HOMES FOR YOUR BOOKS.
10. HAVE FUN.
A book club composed of congenial members who enjoy animated discussions of book ideas and characters is a gift.
As time goes by, not every book will be a hit with each member. Not every member will recall all the names of the books and authors. Everyone will remember how much they enjoyed conversations with fellow book lovers.
Let the adventure begin!
1. Photos by Lynne Schall:
Lynne Schall is the author of Cloud County Persuasion and Women's Company - The Minerva Girls. She and her family live in Kansas, USA, where she is working on Cloud County Harvest, a sequel to her second novel, Cloud County Persuasion.