Three Easy Steps to Starting a Book Club

Blonde woman with glasses smiling and holding books

Hey, fellow bibliophiles! I’ve always wanted to be part of a book club and about a year ago, I decided to just dive in head first and start my own! Since then, I’ve gotten lots of questions about how to actually start a book club. It’s much easier than you’d think! So, to help you out, here are the three steps you need to follow to start your own book club!

1. Determine Potential Members and Reach Out to Them

Bigger is not necessarily better

When I first got it in my head to start a book club, I had this notion that there had a be a lot of members in order for it to be successful, fun and lasting. That’s the opposite of true! In fact, the more members in your book club, the more difficult it becomes to find a schedule that works for everyone, and discussions could go long into the night.

I would recommend a maximum of ten members. Currently, there are three members in my book club, including myself, and that number has worked great for us so far.

Assemble your cast of characters

Start a list of people you’d like to invite. Anyone who loves to read is a good candidate! If it’s someone with similar reading tastes as you, that’s great. However, a book club could also be a great excuse to venture outside your comfort zone and pick up something you normally wouldn’t read. So if you love crime novels but your friend across town sticks to nonfiction, don’t rule that friend out!

Once you have your list compiled, reach out to your potential book club members to find out if they’re interested! Consider the idea of having everyone invite an additional friend, if you’re looking to have a book club with more members.

arial photo of three people reading books at a table

2. Meet Up to Discuss the Club’s Framework

Plan an inaugural night for your book club where everyone meets in person share input and discuss the details of what the club will entail! This is also a great opportunity to introduce members that may not know each other yet.

My book club got together for the first time at a tapas restaurant. We ordered a good amount of food and wine and were there for a couple hours talking about some of our favorite books and what we each pictured the book club would be like. Another option is to host everyone at your house.

Regardless of the setting, there are a few details you will want to hash out with everyone to get your book club off to a great start!

Determine Your Theme

Many book clubs have a theme, be it historical fiction, female authors, suspense novels, etc. The possibilities are endless. Figure out if a theme is something your book club wants to stick to, and what that theme will be. A theme definitely isn’t required but can help add some structure to larger book clubs.

For my book club, we decided to leave our book choices open-ended and we didn’t want to pigeon hole ourselves into picking only one type of book. So, we currently don’t have a theme other than choosing books that sound interesting to us!

Determine Rotation

Everyone in your book club will take turns choosing the book to read and hosting the discussion, so come up with a batting order.

This can be done in any number of ways, but don’t dwell on it too much. Spots can always be swapped if scheduling issues come up.

Once the last person has chosen a book, the club can either start over at the top of the list, or choose to reorder. With my book club being so small, we stick with the same order.

Discuss and Plan Dates

Is there a certain day of the week that typically works for everyone? If meeting on the weekend, do you want to meet in the afternoons, evenings, or possibility even for brunch?

How frequently do you want to meet? This will depend heavily on how much time every individual realistically needs to finish a book.

For my book club, we agreed that meeting every month may not always give us enough time to finish a book, but we didn’t need two months. We split the difference and try to meet every six weeks! Definitely get your first date on the calendar before you leave your inaugural meeting.

Add in Details

We’ve gotten the big stuff out of the way, but here are a few other questions your book club should consider and discuss:

Will you continue to meet at a restaurant each time, or will you take turns hosting in your homes?

Is hosting virtually an option? If so, you have the ability to include individuals that live far away.

Will everyone be expected to buy books each time? Will you try to restrict book choices to those that are either available at the library or have a spending limit?

At what point will you reschedule a book club meeting? When only one person can’t make it? When more than half the club can’t make it?

My book club takes turns hosting at our homes. One little detail we’ve added is we try to somehow incorporate the theme of the book we’re discussing into the food we prepare! It’s been one of our favorite aspects of the club so far.

Since we are a small club, we do reschedule even if only one person is unavailable. We try to choose books that are available through the local library.

The most important thing to remember as you start to form your book club is to not get bogged down too much by the decisions you’re making, and be willing to adapt. Nothing is written in stone. If your club decides something isn’t working out, it can always be changed!

Woman wearing jeans reading book on bed

3. Start Reading!

After the first person in your club’s rotation makes his/her book choice, the rest is self explanatory! Remember that you will be meeting to discuss the book with the club. Don’t be afraid to take notes about what resonates with you or what you’d like to see discussed.

Ready to host book club for the first time? Check out my post here for instructions and tips!

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