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Starting A Book Club

Page history last edited by Julie 10 years, 11 months ago

Starting A Book Club

Who to ask 

  • Decide how many people you want to participate.  Most clubs work best with 8-10 members, although you can choose to have more or less. 
  • It may be hard to have "serious" discussions with your closest friends - you may be more likely to treat is as a social time than a discussion time
  • If you don't have a group of friends or acquaintances that you plan to start with, ask your local library or independant bookstore to place fliers advertising your group.  Churches, civic organizations, your children's schools, or the local newspaper are also options.
  • Another place to find people with similar reading interests is www.meetup.com
  • Try to find people who are all interested in the same type of book club.  They don't have to all be interested in the same genre, but it may be difficult to run if some people are interested in "serious" discussion only and others are more interested in the social aspect. 
  • If you want your group to have a specific focus (women's issues, non-fiction, mystery, etc) make sure the people who join know up front.


Getting Started / Ground Rules

  • It may be helpful to hold an initial meeting before choosing the first book.  This is a good time to choose whether or not your group will focus on one specific genre or will choose from a variety.  This is also the time to set your "ground rules". 
  • Choose a person to leave the club and let that person be responsible for reminding people of the meeting times and directing the conversation if it lags
  • Choose a time and place that are convenient and comfortable for all members.  Some choose to host the club in a different home every week, while some choose a public area.  Make sure the site has adequate parking
  • Set any rules you want your selections to follow and stick to them.  Examples include page length, genre, publication date, and anything else that is important to your group
  • Serve snacks and drinks or meet at a place where they can be purchased.
  • Decide how the book will be chosen.  Some methods include taking a vote, letting each member take turns choosing, or following an already established list (1001 list, bestseller list, etc).  Try to keep from getting burned out on one topic by reading a variety of books.
  • Select books far enough in advance that members have time to get the book from the library or bookstore and read it.  Two to three meetings in advance is generally the recommended length of time.
  • Allow each member to express their expectations for the group.



  • Research the author you will be discussion before the meeting.  Background information on an author can provide a lot of interesting questions to be discussed
  • Prepare a list of questions relating to the book, genre, or author before the meeting in case the conversation lags.
  • Look at the publisher's website for books that include discussion guides.  Many publishers include these guides on their websites free of charge and some books include discussion ideas at the end.
  • Have a moderator who keeps the discussion on track and make sure everyone is able to contribute equally.
  • Practice good communication skills and hold members accountable for doing the same - interrupting, rude comments, or personal attacks should not be part of the discussion. 
  • Encourage those who tend to be quieter to share their thoughts by asking them specific questions.


General Discussion Questions to Consider

  • Who are the main characters?  Do you empathize with them?  Are they believable?
  • What style is the book written in? 
  • What do the characters do?  Would you react in the same way?  Are their actions consistent with their characters?  How do the characters change throughout the book?
  • What is the book about?  What is the central theme?  Does the theme(s) fit naturally with the story?
  • What time period is it set in?  Are you familiar with the time period?  If set in the future, do you think it's a reasonable view of the future?  What current events, if any, impact the story?
  • When was the book written?  Has it aged well?  Do you think people will still be reading it in the future?  What does it say about people's values at the time it was written?  How do they compare to current values?
  • Where does it take place? What effect does the location have on the characters and the story?
  • What do you know about the author?  Are any parts autobiographical?  How does it compare to other books by the same author?
  • What did you like and dislike?  Would you have enjoyed any parts of it more if you read it when you were younger or older?  Did it live up to your expectations?  Do you agree with the "official" reviews?  Was the cover appealing or intriguing?  Would you give it as a gift?  Will you reread it? 
  • How did the book affect you?  Do you feel changed or challenged in any way?  Did reading it help you understand anyone better - a friend, coworker, family member, or even yourself?
  • What will happen to the characters next?  Will there be a sequel?
  • Contrast the book with others set in the same time, with similar characters, in the same genre, or by the same author, but be sure the focus is on the selected book.


Material contributed by: bnlchic03, Modb1rd, cif8, and Julie.





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