Organizational Tips

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

Jun 16, 2022



Zoe Epstein

Whether you’re a book club pro wondering how virtual book club etiquette differs, or a book club newbie trying to figure out the book club expectations, this post in our How To Book Club series is for you!  


It’s useful for any large group to lay down some ground rules for interaction, but even if your club doesn’t have its own specific code of conduct, following these simple guidelines will keep you in your book club’s good graces.  


Here are our top 9 book club rules to keep you from being ‘that guy’ at your next book club meeting:


  1. RSVP.  Let your club (and especially the meeting host) know if you’ll be able to make it to the meeting, and be sure to update your RSVP if your availability changes.  It’s easy to manage RSVPs for your club using the Bookclubs app or website
  2. ARRIVE ON TIME. Don’t keep your club hanging!  This applies equally to in-person meetings and virtual discussions. 
  3. READ THE BOOK! If you haven’t finished the book but decide to attend your book club meeting anyway, be prepared to hear spoilers.  Life happens, and sometimes we don’t get to do as much reading as we’d like, but it’s not cool to keep everyone else from talking about the ending of the book just because you didn’t finish.
  4. COME PREPARED. Spend some time before the meeting thinking about the book.  Bonus points for bringing discussion questions (check to see if there’s a book club discussion guide on the Bookclubs site, or check out our list of general book club discussion questions for any book
  5. SPEAK UP. Contribute to the discussion!  Book clubs work best when everyone participates.   
  6. LISTEN TO OTHERS. Your fellow book club members want to hear your opinion — but they also want to hear everyone else’s.  Don’t interrupt or dominate the discussion.  This is particularly important for virtual book club discussions where it can be harder to tell if someone wants to add to the conversation.  Take advantage of features like virtual hand raising to make sure everyone gets a turn to contribute. 
  7. BE HONEST.  Most of us join book club because we want a richer reading experience through discussion.  That can only happen when we share what we really thought or felt about a book.  It’s completely fine to dislike — or even hate — a book that someone  else loves.  Having different tastes in books is part of what makes book clubs fun.  And polarizing books are often the best books to pick for book club! However:
  8. BE RESPECTFUL.  You can disagree with someone, but always do so respectfully.  Ask questions.  Avoid personal attacks.  And keep an open mind.  
  9. HAVE FUN!  Why are we book clubbing if we’re not having fun?  Don’t worry so much about the book club rules and expectations that you’re not enjoying book club.  


Bonus book club rule: If you are meeting at someone’s home, offer to bring something. And always offer to help clean up!


Any other book club rules you’d add to this list?  


If you enjoyed this post on book club etiquette, subscribe to our blog and create a Bookclubs account to access more reading and club inspiration!


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