Book club tips and inspiration

How to Start a Book Club in 5 Easy Steps

Updated: Jan 10, 2024

Blog

Authors

Anna Ford

Constance Costas

Do you want to read more books in 2024? You're not alone. Reading is the simplest and most effective way to deepen your knowledge of the world and improve your quality of life. But reading alone can be challenging: scraping together the time, fighting the inevitable distractions, struggling to retain what you just read. That's why you should start a book club!

Book clubs exists to merge reading seamlessly with the rest of what you do. A book club can bring your friend group, your followers, your customers, or your team at work closer together; and can even connect you to a global community of readers. 

Here are the five simple steps to starting a book club.  

 

Step 1: How to Invite Fellow Readers to Your Club

The first step to start a book club is to invite fellow readers to join your club. But before you do that, you need to have the right tools to keep your club organized and on track. That's where Bookclubs comes in. Bookclubs is the best online platform for organizing and managing youur book club. With Bookclubs, you can create your club, invite members, schedule meetings, choose books, and facilitate discussions, all in one place. This way, you can focus on reading your next favorite read and having fun with your club. 

Creating your club on Bookclubs is fast and easy. Just click here -- we’ll supply a private invitation link to share with your group by email or text.  You can also invite members through your social media accounts, such as Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. Don't forget to come up with a fun name for your book club.

Start small, with a few people who love to read. Send them the link with a message describing your plans. Use your club’s (private) Bookclubs home page to schedule your first meeting. 

As host, you can suggest the book and date—or let members vote using our online polling feature. Bookclubs also automatically sends meeting reminders and tracks responses.

4 book club members at a meeting

 

Step 2: How to Set Your Book Club Ground Rules 

The second step to start a book club is to set your book club ground rules. Ground rules are the basic guidelines that help your club run smoothly and effectively. They cover aspects such as how often, where, and how long your club will meet, how many members your club will have, how you will pick your books, and how you will conduct your discussions. When your club gathers for the first time, you’ll want to consider these questions and agree on the answers with your members:

How often should our book club get together?

Most clubs meet every month or two. Some clubs wing it, scheduling from one meeting to the next. Others confirm meet-dates months in advance, say, on the last Tuesday of every month. After a few meetings, you’ll know what jives with your crowd. 

Where should our book club meet?

Book clubs usually meet in members’ homes, rotating the hosting duties. But don’t feel hemmed-in by this format. There are many different places for book clubs to meet.  Some clubs meet over brunch in a different café every month. Consider a wine bar. Or book a private room at your local library. Far-flung club members can even gather virtually, using online meeting platforms like Google Meet or Zoom

How many members should our book club have?

Most clubs have ten active members, but we’ve seen foursomes and groups of fifty thrive. You’ll rarely see every member at every meeting, so adding a few extras is a good idea. Some clubs favor an open-door policy, allowing members to invite interested friends when the spirit moves them. Others vet prospects carefully. If your club prefers a more-the-merrier approach, you can list your club on Bookclub's Join a Book Club page to find new members. Just be sure to talk about your growth strategy at your first meeting, so everyone’s on the same page. 

How should we pick our book for book club?

Your group might choose to focus on literary fiction, nonfiction, mystery, historical fiction, women writers, or global authors. Or maybe you’ll mix it up. We like clubs that pick a theme while leaving a little room for variety, but the choice is yours. Try our polling feature to let members vote on books.  

Related Resource: We share how book clubs pick their books!

Are We a Social group? Literary Club? Or Both?

Decide how you’ll divide your time between books and socializing. You might focus on the book for the first hour—then kick back and visit. If a member hasn’t finished that month’s title, consider how you’ll handle plot-spoilers during the discussion. You’ll avoid frustration down the road when members clarify their goals and expectations at the outset.

Get familiar with: Our top 9 rules of book club etiquette (aka, how to be a good book club member)

 

Step 3: How to Run Your Book Club Discussion and Keep People Chatting

The third step to start a book club is to use a book club discussion guide or make a plan to keep people chatting. A good discussion is the heart and soul of a book club, and it requires some preparation and guidance. A quick and easy way to get people talking is to nominate a member to start the meeting with an open-ended question, a report on your book’s reviews, or a few newsy tidbits from an author interview. You can find book club questions specific to the book you're reading at Bookclubs' Discussion Guide Center, where we provide ready-made questions for hundreds of the most popular book club books. Or try out our general book club questions that can be used for any book. After you kick things off with a few thought-provoking questions, you can let the conversation flow.

We relate to books on a deeply personal level, so meetings can open surprisingly intimate discussions. Don’t be surprised when opinions differ; remember, always, to be respectful when you disagree. 

We bring our own life experience, and often, whether intentionally or no, our own prejudices, to a novel. Keep this in mind as you add new members. You want to create a group where open, enlightening talk can flourish.    

Related Resources:

 

Step 4. How to Keep Your Momentum Rolling and Make Your Book Club a Success

The fourth step to start a book club is to stay organized to keep your momentum rolling. We know that people are busy and have competing priorities. That’s why Bookclubs is here to help! Even the most enthusiastic group can lose steam when members can’t agree on book choices and meeting dates, or when they forget to RSVP or show up. 

Bookclubs lets you manage the small-but-crucial details easily. Use the shared "Books we want to read" bookshelf to recommend books for your next read.  Use our polling tool to pinpoint meeting-dates and choose books, then set a deadline for voting. You’ll thank us when the responses arrive like clockwork. 

Remember, starting a book club is a labor of love. Once you’ve launched yours, enlist members to share the organizing and hosting duties. 

 

Step 5. How to Find Your Groove & Have Fun!

The fifth and final step to start a book club is to find your groove. And don’t forget to have fun! Book clubs are more than just reading groups, they are also social and learning communities. They foster discussions that enrich our perspectives and challenge our assumptions. They also create opportunities for friendship, laughter, and joy. At the end of every meeting, try asking each member to rate the book on a scale of 1-10 on your club’s page on Bookclubs, as well as out loud. This lets everyone share their opinions and feedback, and also see how the club’s discussion influenced their rating. 
 
But don’t forget, it's important that you’re having fun, too. For instance, if someone from your club is hosting dinner or a potluck for the other members, choose a festive menu theme based on the book. Try a club outing to a local bookstore’s author talk—or catch the movie when a favorite book hits the big screen.
 
As your club bonds and gets settled, its own traits and charms will emerge as well. Find what works for your group and lean into the quirks that make your group special. Once your book club has found its groove and you’re ready to mix it up, here’s some of our favorite ways to spice up your book club:

Related Resources:

 

Ready to start your book club? Sign up for Bookclubs today and start a book club that is built to last

Bookclubs is the top app for book clubs and the readers looking to join them. Offering the tools to bring readers together, schedule meetings, facilitate discussions, and discover what to read next, Bookclubs is the place to build your book club so it stays organized and stays together. Start your book club today at bookclubs.com.

Bookclubs app on mobile phone and tablet and the Bookclubs website open on a laptop

On the Bookclubs website or app, you'll find all the club organizing tools you’ll need to keep your book club running smoothly, including:

  • Automated Meeting Scheduling & Reminders: The meeting syncs with your calendar and all members receive meeting reminders so whether you’re meeting virtually or in-person, you’re keeping book club on the calendar!
  • Interactive Polls: Avoid those lengthy email chains with our interactive polls for book selection, choosing your next meeting time, and more.
  • Message Boards & 1:1 Direct Messages: Share your latest book banter with direct messaging features and club message boards.
  • Digital Shelving: Keep track of what your club (or you) has read and wants to read next. See in an instant what your club is reading this month, view your past reads in one place, and recommend books to each other – so you always have options for what to read next!
  • Grow Your Club: Looking to connect with readers outside your personal circle? Open your club to the public and find new members in your hometown or across the globe.

 

Create your profile, start and join a book club, track your reading, and more.

COMMENTS

Zoe E. (Bookclubs)

Dec 01, 2022 - 1 year

Responding here to several of the questions posed down-thread! Bookclubs operates via mobile app (available on Apple App Store or Google Play Store) or via website + email. You can use either, or both. Bookclubs is set up for clubs meeting in-person, virtually (e.g., over Zoom) or via online discussion. Each club has its own chat room, where members can discuss via discussion threads. Threads can be organized using custom categories. Club members will receive an email alert when new threads are posted. Bookclubs allows clubs that do hold meetings (whether in-person or virtual) to schedule those meetings through our website or app. You can see all of your future scheduled and past meetings on your club's meetings page, along with who has RSVP'd to each meeting. A notice is sent to all members when a meeting is created, with RSVP options. You'll also receive automatic meeting reminders 2 weeks, 1 week, and 1 day before your meeting (though you can change your club settings to opt out). A digital calendar invite will also be attached to the meeting invite.

Steve Sato

Feb 08, 2022 - 2 years

Excellent!

Lady Steen

Aug 07, 2020 - 4 years

Hi, I have some older women in our group and they want to be apart of the bookclub but they do not operate by email and I wanted to know if there is another way that I can include them?

Lady Steen

Aug 07, 2020 - 4 years

Hi

Dawn Black

Nov 07, 2019 - 5 years

I'm interested in knowing about having an online discussion regardign the books as well. is there a way to do this, or is it only set up for inperson meetings and uploading the minutes after?

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