J.K. Rowling once said that if you don’t like to read, you haven’t found the right book. We would amend that slightly: it’s also possible you just haven’t found the right people to read with.
You probably want to read more. Many successful people already do. Reading is the simplest and most effective way to deepen your knowledge of the world and improve your quality of life. But you’re probably also picturing reading alone: scraping together the time, fighting the inevitable distractions, struggling to remember the last sentence your eyes just scanned over.
Bookclubs 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 Bookclubs can connect your club to a global community.
Benefit from the insights of thousands of other readers, lifelong learners, and interesting and distinctive book people.
Step 1: Ready, Set, Invite!
Next? Start small, with a few people who love to read. Send them the link with a message describing your plans.
Finally: 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 lets you send reminders and track responses.
Now you’re ready to get down to business:
Step 2: Ground Rules
When your club gathers for the first time, you’ll want consider these questions:
How often will we meet? 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 we gather? Book clubs usually meet in members’ homes, rotating the hosting duties. But don’t feel hemmed-in by this format. 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, Zoom, or gotomeeting.com.
Does size matter? 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 even post your club’s unique Bookclubz link on public forums. Just be sure to talk about your growth-strategy at your first meeting, so everyone’s on the same page.
How Will We Choose Books? 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—located on your club’s page—to let members vote on 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.
Step 3: Let the discussion flow.
A little prep-work helps kick off a lively discussion. 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. Then let the conversation flow.
That strategy can tend to run out after a few minutes, however. For a sturdier plan, use Bookclubs' discussion guides, available on request for any book you’re reading—or try our generic discussion questions, below, perfect for novels.
- How did the storyline surprise you?
- Which character did you identify with most? Why?
- What struck you about the author’s style? Was it easy or hard to read? Why?
- If you had to recommend the book to someone, what parts would you focus on?
- What didn’t you know about the book’s setting before reading it?
- How would you adapt the book into a movie?
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.
Step 4. Keep Your Momentum Rolling.
People are busy. We get it. So let Bookclubs help! Even the bubbliest group can go flat when members waffle over book choices and meeting dates.
Bookclubs lets you manage the small-but-crucial details easily. 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. Don't Forget to Have Fun
Book clubs foster profound discussions that disrupt our normal ways of being together to everyone's benefit. But, even if they're meeting a workplace, it's important that they're they’re 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.
For more ideas, check out Literary Hostess, where our friends Tricia and Kimberly offer hosting tips along with discussion questions for lots of our favorite books.
Step 6. Find Your Groove
As your club bonds, its own quirks and charms will emerge. But some meeting practices always seem to work well:
- At the end of every meeting, ask each member rate the book on a scale of 1-10 on your club's page on Bookclubs, as well as out loud. Members share their rating and why. This lets everyone talk about how the club’s discussion influenced their rating.
- Pick a month for a wild-card book: When the Pulitzer-prize is announced in August, Anna’s club likes to read the winner for fiction, whatever it is.
- Help your host: If they’re preparing the meal, let one member to bring dessert while others bring beverages.
- We've even known book clubs to go on several-day retreats together; but you can start with a museum visit, author talk, or book-inspired movie night.