How to start a book club

Everyone loves a good book club! Well, maybe not everyone, but I certainly enjoy them and have been in a few over the years. There’s no real set formula for how to start a book club but if you’re just not sure on where to begin, here are a few pointers;

1] You’ll need some friends! If you have Facebook, making a ‘group’ is a pretty easy way of getting everyone together in the one place to plan your book club. That way, you can add some people you think would enjoy being in the club and get them to add some of their friends too. You don’t necessarily have to know everyone in your book club, either – diversity within a book club is a great as it fosters intelligent, creative and varied discussion. Spend the first week or two collecting your people so they also have a chance to take themselves out of the group if they choose to, and by the end of the two weeks you should have a clear idea of who is in your first book club.

2] Choose a fun name! You can get as creative as you like with this, for example; the Breakfast Book Club, the Bookworms, the No. 1 Ladies’ Book Club, the Nerd Herds, Between The Covers, Literary Ladies, Chapter Chat, Rabid Readers, the Wine Club with a Drinking Problem or the Drinking Club with a Reading Problem!

3] Organise some of the logistics – the when, the where and the how often. You’ll need to know when and how often your book club meetings will take place (once a month is usually standard and you could suggest something like the first Sunday of every month to keep it regular). As to where, first decide whether your club will be meeting at an outside location – perhaps a café or a quiet wine bar – or at someone’s home. In one of the book clubs I was in, we took turns hosting the book club based on whoever had chosen that month’s book. Something else to consider if you decide on meetings in each other’s homes – will the host provide snacks and drinks or will each person bring a plate of snacks to share?

4] In choosing books for your club, there are a few ways you can do this. Some book clubs choose all their books for the year upfront, after a discussion with group members on what type of books to include. Your first meeting could be held in order to come up with the booklist for the year, with everyone having a say – if you ask everyone to come to the meeting with a few books in mind, you will likely get a good list going quite easily. Another option is to have a new theme for each month and to choose a book based on that theme. You can either choose these all yourself, if you decide you want to ‘lead’ your book club, but bear in mind that everyone may not be happy with all your selections, so I believe it is better to have some sort of democratic vote involved in book choices! My favourite book club allowed each member to take turns in choosing the book for the month, as this gave everyone a fair go and also allowed for a diversity in reading material.

5] Finally, after you’ve read the first book and you’re at your first meeting, have some questions at hand to put to the group in case the conversation stalls. For example; what were your initial impressions of the book? Did you have a favourite or least favourite character? Did they seem believable? Why & why not? Did you have a favourite line & why? Did you enjoy the book’s plot and ending? Would you have done anything differently? Was anything left unresolved for you? What did you like best about the book? What did you like least? Did you learn anything new? Did this book remind you of any other books you have read & why?

And that’s it! It’s pretty easy to start up a book club, once you get the right mixture of friends and books, and you’re sure to have lots of lively discussions, perhaps with a cup of tea or glass of wine at hand. Have fun!

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