Organizational Tips

How to Run An Online Book Club Discussion

Apr 26, 2022



Zoe Epstein

Last week, as part of our How To Book Club series,  we shared some can’t-miss book club discussion questions for your book club meeting.  


Those questions work great for a club that meets live, whether in person or virtually, but what if your club interacts via online discussion?  Or what if you want to be able to start discussing your book club selection before the meeting?


This week, we’re tackling how to best discuss books online, with our tips on how to structure your club’s message board and what discussion questions prompt the best online discourse.  


If you’re an admin of a club on Bookclubs, you can decide (in your Club Settings) whether any club member can start a new message thread, or if only the admins can.  Either way, any member can reply to any thread.  A fully open message board can be less work to moderate and prompt interesting discussion, but at the risk of being less organized and less easy to follow. 


Here are a few discussion thread prompts that we’ve seen engaged clubs use to get the conversation going:

  • Introduction thread: This thread is a place for new members of your club to introduce themselves.  Consider having each new member answer the same set of questions, such as their name, where they’re from, why they joined the club or what they’re hoping to get out of the club, and what they’re currently reading

  • Book recommendation threads: Every book lover we know is always looking for their next book to read!  A few great prompts that are sure to elicit lots of discussion include “What are you reading?,” “What’s on your TBR (to be read) list?” and perhaps most helpfully, “In search of…”  Create a space for members to ask for suggestions based on the type of book they typically enjoy or are looking to expand into.  The more specific the ask, the better the recommendations you’re likely to get!

  • Organized book threads: To stay organized, post one thread for each book your club reads, or, if you primarily discuss online, consider creating a thread for multiple sections of the book, so that people can discuss the book as they go along without worrying about spoilers.  
    • As an example, the YA Allegiance Book Club sets up 4-5 threads per book, with each subject line explaining which chapters the thread covers, and the prompt ”Feel free to discuss anything and everything you want from these chapters as you read! Plot, characters, favorite quotes, predictions, etc.! Be warned: spoilers for these chapters ahead!”
    • Pro tip: you will only get an email about the first message in a thread, so keep that first message spoiler-free 

  • Discussion questions: For those who have finished reading the book, you can also post some discussion guide questions.  If there’s any surprise twist (or unsettling ambiguity) at the end of the book, it’s great to create a thread on that too, to allow members to talk about it right away (don’t forget the spoiler alerts!)

  • Crowdsourcing questions: Lastly, if your club is hosting a live meeting or an author interview, ask what questions people would like to see covered during the meeting


What are some of your favorite online discussion prompts? Share in the comments!  And don't forget to subscribe to the blog to make sure to get more book club tips straight to your inbox!


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