So, you’re thinking about starting a book club?
Maybe you’re a book lover looking to meet other book lovers. Maybe you’re not reading as much as you’d like and want to give yourself time to pick up a book and enjoy reading again. Maybe you already have a group of friends interested in getting together to talk books but aren’t sure what to do next. Or maybe you’ve never even thought about starting a book club, but now you’re thinking it’s an awesome idea.
Whatever your reason for starting a book club, we want to help you get started! Running a book club is not only a fun way to enjoy books and meet new people, it’s also a great way to learn new perspectives and participate in some healthy debate. As well as opening your mind to other genres or books you may not normally read.
To help you get started, we’ve put together 8 book club tips and resources you’ll need to consider to get your book club up and running.
1. Determine What Type of Book Club You Want to Host
There are many different types of book clubs. Some book clubs are highly social, focusing more on the getting together with friends to talk about a common interest, as well as other thing. While others are seriously academic, with a clear purpose and structure. Maybe yours will be in between!
Do you want to start a book club that only reads titles by local (Australian) authors (here is a link to get you started (https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/australian-authors). Maybe you want to concentrate on one or two genres to start with or perhaps you’re open to reading anything and everything. A modern option is to concentrate on ebooks. This can again be all genres or you could focus on one or two.
A theme can help you make all the other decisions about your book club, so whatever your focus (or lack thereof!), make sure you know what it is before you start doing anything else. This helps everything to fall into place.
2. Decide Who You Want to Invite
This is when you decide who is going to be a part of your new club. Will it just be one or two friends or will it be a larger group? Big groups can offer a wide variety of ideas and viewpoints, but smaller gatherings can be more intimate and allow you to really get to know your fellow book club members. So again, it comes down to whether you want a more casual gathering or a more co-ordinated meeting. If you decide on a larger group of people, you will need to be organised and the meeting will require more structure so that it flows and everyone gets to participate.
There’s no right or wrong answer to this question and it may change over time, but it’s important to consider before you get started because the size of your book club will affect when and where you can meet, and may even impact what books you’ll read.
You should also consider how you’ll find members. Will you invite close friends only? Do you want to expand your social circle and welcome anyone who’s interested? Can invitees bring along another person and so on.
It can be daunting to find people to join your book club, but books really do have a way of connecting people. Try starting with three friends and asking each of them to invite one, two or even three friends of their own. If these decisions are all thought out prior, it makes it easier to answer questions and stick to you plan. Otherwise, it could get confusing and you will not have the book club you hoped for.
Neighbourhood and community boards on social media channels like Facebook are also great places to connect with fellow readers and you may be lucky enough to come across an author or two that might like to participate.
3. Determine How Your Book Club Will Meet
So by this point you know who you’re inviting or at least have an idea of how many people to expect. The next thing to consider is how you’ll meet.
A book club doesn’t need to meet physically.These days the Internet allows us to meet virtually, and due to Covid-19 we are all pretty good at doing this now.
Both Facebook and GoodReads are examples that allow you to host groups that can be open or private. GoodReads has some really unique book clubs like the Everyone has read this but me – The Catchup Book Club (https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/189072-everyone-has-read-this-but-me—the-catch-up-book-club) that is worth a look if you’re interested in finding out more about hosting a virtual book club. For a bit more inspiration check out a local Facebook book club that I have come across https://www.facebook.com/cccbookclub.
If you type in book club in Facebook there are many to look through for ideas or even join yourself.
You can also consider running your book club as both a virtual one and a physical one. Maybe you can communicate mostly through a Facebook page and meet up monthly for a physical get together. That way if someone can’t make a physical meeting they can always join in virtually.
4. If You’re Meeting in Person, Find Somewhere to Meet
If you want to host a book club that meets physically, consider how much space you’ll need.
If it’s just yourself and one or two other people, your options are almost endless: coffee shops, restaurants, a park and even each others’ homes are all great options.
If you’re looking for space for a larger group, consider public areas like the Public Library or a community hall. A local university may even allow you to use a spare conference room or library room. Or the local council may have something available.
5. Decide How You’ll Choose Books
You’ve figured out what kind of book club you want to host, who you’re going to invite and where you’re going to meet. It’s time for the big question: what books will you read?
Remember thinking about the theme of your book club? That can really help narrow down options. And if you’re reading this because you want to start a book club, we bet you already have a bunch of great titles in mind!
This is the time to let your group help you make decisions, because book clubs work better if everyone is involved. Some book clubs use a formal voting or nomination process while others simply discuss each choice as a group. Maybe you will have each member make the choice, alternating weeks. Or you could have each person write a selection on a piece of paper and pull it out of a hat.
However you decide to make your choice, there are a few things to keep in mind when picking a book. Topic, length and reading level are all important to consider with your book club members in mind (and why it’s so important to get everyone’s input!).
If you’re having trouble deciding on a title,there are thousands of book club recommendation lists online. A great Australian site is Readings (https://www.readings.com.au/collection/recommended-for-book-clubs) to use as a starting point.
Last, but certainly not least, if you’re still having trouble finding a title that will work for your book club, talk to a friendly Turning Pages staff member. We’re always happy to help (and we love providing recommendations). And you can talk to us https://www.turningpagesbookshop.com.au/contact-us.
6. Think About How Members Will Access the Books
You should also think about how everyone will access the book. Digital books are a great option for book clubs. Ebooks are an amazing way to ensure all your book club members can access whatever book you choose, instantly. Digital books can be accessed from just about anywhere and, with Turning Pages books, all of your book club members can access the same title simultaneously—no worrying about holds or waiting for the postman!
7. Set Up the Discussion
You’ve figured out all the details, everyone is happy with the book you’ve chosen and you’re excited to host your first book club meeting. Now what are you going to talk about?
Even if you’ve read the book, guiding a book club discussion can be a little daunting. Thankfully, there are a number of wonderful resources available to help you guide your book club:
LitLovers contains over 3,000 book discussion guides, generic questions and information about how to talk about books
Reading Group Guides has over 4,000 discussion guides with reviews and questions
Goodreads is an invaluable source of book reviews and book discussions
Check out the authors and publishers’ websites—many will have interesting news about the books, discussion guides and even author answers to book club questions
Check the back of the book—the kinds of titles that tend to be popular with book clubs increasingly come equipped with discussion questions printed at the end of the actual book.
8. Don’t Forget the Logistics
In the fun of starting a book club, it can be easy to forget some of the little details, but they can make or break it. Things like how often your book club will meet, what time you’ll meet and how you’ll communicate all of that and more with your book club members between meetings are all important considerations.
How often you meet may depend on the group or the books you choose. When to meet can be tricky, too, and may need to be adjusted as your book club develops (this could be where the virtual option will work best). But all of that will be impossible to coordinate without a way to communicate with your fellow members.
Email, social media, texting and even a phone chain are all valid options. Just make sure to choose one or you might find yourself hosting a book club that no one knows about, and that’s no fun at all.
Well now you should be all set. Enjoy and happy reading!