Book Club 101: How to Start a Book Club
March 4, 2022
Have you ever finished a book and desperately felt the need to talk about it with another person, but none of your friends read it? Maybe you had so many questions about why a character did what they did. Or maybe you loved how the writing just danced off the page and wanted to see if someone else felt the same way.
Starting a book club is a great way to ensure that you always have someone to talk to about the book that you’re reading. You can enjoy new books while meeting new people, and you’ll also learn new things through great conversations. If you are interested in learning how to start a book club, we have the top 5 questions you’ll want to answer before getting those pages turning.
Number 1: Who Do You Want to Invite?
The first thing to consider when starting a book club is the guest list. Who would be a good person to invite to your book club? Maybe your best friend would be interested. Maybe a former colleague who you got along with and you know has similar interests would want to join. You don’t have to be super close with the people you invite to your book club; that’s part of the fun! It’s a great way to get to know people better, so don’t feel pressured to only ask close friends.
To add to that point, not everyone in your group has to know each other either. Introducing two of your friends from different social circles can be a great way to strengthen your social circle. You can also see if friends of friends would want to join, giving yourself a chance to meet people through your connections. If you want to expand the circle even further, think about looking on Facebook or online communities to find people who are interested in talking about the books you love.
Number 2: Where Will You Meet?
If you’re starting a book club, you’ll all have to find a space where you’re comfortable meeting. During the past year, many book clubs defaulted to online meetings or even just over email. Online meetings can be a great way to have discussions with people from all over the world, and conversations can sometimes be easier to moderate for larger groups. How would it work? You can share your screen and present slides to the group if you’re interested in a more in-depth or structured discussion. You can also conduct a book club through email; this is another great option as everyone has a chance to speak. You can give quieter or more soft-spoken people a chance to express their thoughts, something that they may not feel comfortable doing in a large group.
However, if everyone in your group is ready and comfortable to meet in person, you can set up a schedule and meet every few weeks in someone’s home. Some book clubs enjoy meeting in public as well. You can look at local cafes, libraries, or even parks when the weather is nice.
Number 3: What’s the Purpose of Your Book Club?
Now that you have taken care of the who’s and where’s, it’s time to focus on a more abstract question: why do you want to start a book club? (Do we really need a reason, though?!) There’s definitely no right or wrong answer here, but thinking about the why can help narrow down the titles you choose and can also encourage the longevity of the club itself.
Are you trying to get through a book series and want other people to join you on the ride? Are you reading about a specific topic and want to find people who are interested in specifically reading non-fiction? Are you studying for school and find that you retain information better when you read as part of a group? Some people start and join book clubs because they actually don’t read that often, and they like the communal approach, feeling that it holds them accountable.
Whatever the reason (or reasons!), it’s good to narrow down the “why” so you find fulfillment in the process and keep it up.
Number 4: How Will You Choose the Books You Want to Read?
The biggest question that people are confronted with when they decide to start a book club: what will we read?
There are many ways that you can approach this. First, if you have a specific author that you’re passionate about and you really want to read through their works, there’s nothing stopping you from creating a book club dedicated to them and only them. The same goes for a book club about a specific genre or theme. If you know that you only want to read creative non-fiction, or the classics, or any novel as long as it’s set in France, you can! That’s what’s so great; just as there is a vast variety of books, the possibilities for book clubs are also endless! If you’re taking this approach, however, it’s important to be upfront with your invitees that you already have a list of books or guidelines laid out.
Another way to approach it is to ask each person in the group to nominate one book. You can take all the titles and randomly select which week or month their books will be read and discussed. That way, you’ll have an eclectic range of genres, and everyone has a say.
Number 5: How Will You Structure the Conversations?
You’ve found your group, you’ve figured out where you’re going to meet, and you’ve made a list of all the books you’ll read. Now comes the tricky part—it’s time to start the discussions.
Not everyone is comfortable talking in groups, and some people might be too comfortable talking in groups. Others might shy away from taking the position of moderator, while others might love it. In order to ensure that everyone is able to contribute to the conversation, it’s important to have some sort of structure laid out in your meetings. But trust us, this structure can remain relaxed, fun or even more serious depending on how you’d like to conduct it! It can be as simple as everyone going around the circle and saying three things they loved and/or disliked. You can implement a talking stick, you can pass a ball around, or you can set a timer.
If you’re looking for something more traditional, some book clubs have the person who nominated the book talk at the beginning of the group discussion, giving a short presentation of why they chose it and offering more context. The person can then ask discussion questions, facilitating the conversation. This allows everyone the chance to speak, both long term and short term, and can set the stage for deeper and more meaningful discussions.
Read, Read, and Read Some More!
Starting a book club can be a rewarding experience, especially during a time when people are looking for more authentic and meaningful friendships and discussions. One big thing to consider when learning how to start a book club is accessibility. Books can be expensive, and not everyone is able to purchase a dozen books all at once at full price. Look for books that are available at a discount, so everyone can participate! We might be biased, but we here at Book Outlet love that we can get books for cheap due to the amazing bargain prices. Trust us when we say, we too, do a lot of shopping here. How can you go wrong?!
Not sure which book to start reading first with your group? We have a diverse selection of discounted books, including biographies, the classics, and New York Times Best Sellers that are sure to have something for every reader. Browse our collections and find inspiration for your first book club.