How to Start a Book Club

How to Start a Book Club

Step 1: Check out the scene. Before you start your own book club, make sure there isn’t one around already that you might like to join. If you can’t find one (or you found one you didn’t totally dig), proceed to step 2.

Step 2: Assess your agenda. Is the purpose of your book club to foster cultural criticism or to have an excuse to see friends and drink martinis? Would you like to analyze every Danielle Steele book ever written or get through the classics? The clearer you are about your intentions up front, the more successful your club will be.

Step 3: Recruit new members. Depending on the answer you came up with in step 2, invite readers from your social circle, workplace, and community. If you don’t get enough members through word of mouth, try making fliers or placing an ad online. Ideally, you’ll have between three and twelve book buddies.

Step 4: Schedule your first meeting. If your group includes close friends, feel free to have it at your home. If it includes strangers, meet at a cafe, bar, or library so everyone feels comfy.

Step 5: Set the rules. During your first meeting, get to know one another and then decide (1) how you’ll choose the books you’ll read; (2) where, when, and how often you’ll meet; (3) who will lead the discussion; and most important; (4) what, if any, snacks and cocktails will be served. Once you’ve got that business settled, choose your first page-turner and get busy reading.

More Nifty Tips

  • Food and drink (especially drink) are not necessary for a good book discussion, but they often help to make it feel less like homework and more like a hoot.
  • Don’t be afraid to speak up, even if you’re new to the group. You’ll learn more and have more fun if you actively participate.
  • Be respectful. If the host chooses a book you’re not crazy about, read it anyway. You may be surprised by how many genres you can enjoy.
  • Everything about the book is up for discussion. Even if you hated it or couldn’t get past the first fifteen pages, remember that you’ve got something to contribute—your opinion.
  • If you’re nervous about hosting, look online for reading group guides. Most publishers will prepare and post them before their books hit the shelves.