Have you wanted to join a book club, but haven't been able to find one that is just right? Why not start your own? A book club is a great way to meet new friends and read good books. This step by step guide will help you start a book club that can last for years.
Time Required: Varied
- Get together a core group - It is much easier to start a book club with two or three people who already have some connection. Ask around the office, play groups, or your church or civic organizations. Sometimes you might find enough people to start a book club right away. Often you'll at least recruit some help in completing the rest of the steps. (New to the area? Skip to step three).
- Set a regular meeting time - An ideal size for a book club is 8 - 11 people. As you can imagine, it is often difficult to coordinate that many schedules. Go ahead and set a regular meeting time and date for your book club with your core group. For instance, my book club meets the second Tuesday of the month at 6:30 p.m. By setting the time before advertising the book club, you avoid playing favorites when working around schedules and are up front about what commitment is required.
- Advertise your book club - The best advertising is often word of mouth. If you have a core group of three, and you each know two people who want to join, then all you have to do to start a book club is ask these people. This is a good way to meet friends of friends. If your core group doesn't know of other people to ask, then advertise in your circles of interest (school, work, church) with fliers or announcements. There are often also places to post fliers at the library, book stores and cafes.
- Establish ground rules - Get together with your potential book club members and set the group's ground rules. (You might want everyone's input; however, if you have set ideas of what you want, then set the rules with your core group and announce them at this first meeting). The ground rules should include how books are chosen, who hosts, who leads discussions and what kind of commitment is expected (See Tips Below). If you did not set the meeting time with your core group, do that now.
- Meet - Set a schedule for the first few months and start meeting. If the book club is small at first, don't worry about it. Invite people as you go. Some people will be more likely to join an already established book club because they feel less pressure than they would as a founding member.
- Keep meeting and inviting people - Even if your book club is an ideal size, from time to time you'll have the chance to invite new people as other members move away or drop out. Don't be discouraged if you lose members. People's schedules and commitments change. Hopefully you'll always have a core group, and together you can reload.
- Example Ground Rules:
My book club decided that a different person would host each month. The hostess is responsible for picking the book, leading the discussion and providing the meal. If we meet at a restaurant, the hostess buys appetizers and wine. We place no restrictions on what books the hostess chooses--fiction, nonfiction, self-help--everything's fair game. We always take December off from reading and plan a fun event out.
- How to Choose Books:
Some groups vote on what books they are going to read at the beginning of the year. Some let the host for the month choose. Some use the bestsellers lists or a national book club--such as Oprah's Book Club--as a guide. No matter how your book club chooses books, you also need to decide if there will be any restrictions on the choices (ie, just fiction, just paperbacks, etc.). Try these book club reading recommendations for help finding great reads and ready to go questions.
- Hosting Ideas:
Food is not required, but it helps the discussion roll and makes the book club meetings more fun. Some book clubs meet at a different restaurant each month. Sometimes meetings are held in people's homes. You can choose to have appetizers, a full meal or just dessert. Whether you are out or in a home, I recommend at least having coffee, tea and some snacks. (Check out this sample book club schedule for some suggestions).
- Leading the Discussion:
Be sure to check out our ready to go discussion questions on best sellers. Just print out the questions and you're ready to lead.
Shy about leading? Check out this guide to leading a book club discussion.