So you want to start a book club?

Two women chatting over coffee.Here are some tips that we've gathered to help your club run smoothly.

Consider the following:

  • Meetings:

    • Where? When? How long? How often?
    • There are many places that offer free space to hold your meetings, like the library, coffee shops, restaurants, and of course, a living room.
    • You should schedule meetings ahead of time to avoid having to do this at each meeting; it also allows you to choose titles well in advance to ensure members have enough time to read the books.
    • Will you meet monthly, bi-monthly or even bi-weekly?
  • Size:

    • How many members will you have? The size of your meeting space will dictate the maximum number of participants you can accommodate, but you can choose to have only 6-8, if you prefer.
    • Remember that the less members in your book club limits the variety of responses you will get and the amount of discussion that will be generated.
  • Membership:

    • You may choose to invite only friends, family and coworkers or you can advertise for members at your local library, in coffee shops, or even in the newspaper or a local television station that runs public ads.
  • Style:

    • Will there be a leader to run the discussion or will members talk at random?

      • Having a leader will help to guide the discussion and ensure that it stays on topic.
      • When choosing a leader, consider rotating members to allow everyone to share the work and the expense.
    • If you choose not to have a leader, prepare ahead of time by bringing a reading guide or topics to throw out to the group to fuel discussion.
  • Book Selection:

    • What types of books will you read?

      • Fiction, non-fiction, or a combination of these?
      • Contemporary or classic works, or both?
    • How many books will you read?

      • Will you read a single title per discussion or will you pair two books for comparison?
    • Appropriate Selections:

      • Books that are easy to read and are enjoyable do not tend to generate much thought or discussion, and are not very appropriate for book clubs.
      • Choose titles that will make your members say more than, "I hated the book" or "Well, I liked it?but I don't really know why."
      • Appropriate books generate discussion, force you to make choices, and throw you into the middle of difficult situations. Sometimes you cannot identify with any of the characters, or even if you can, you might not want to.
      • Mainstream novels and nonfiction titles (and of course, romance, westerns, mysteries, suspense books) do not usually lend themselves well to your purpose.
      • Keep in mind that not everyone in your group is going to enjoy every title you discuss - and they don't have to! The amazing thing about reading is that it is a different experience every time for every single person. No two people have the same history, background, tastes or memories to influence how they experience a book.
  • Atmosphere:

    • Will you serve food, play music or bring props that are reminiscent of the book that will be discussed?