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  • Writer's pictureA Wild Lass

Best Tips for How to Host Book Club

Sometimes as a mom it’s hard to make friends. If you’re lucky enough to have a great moms group or a social club you’re part of, you may not feel the isolation I’m talking about. But for the rest of us, being home with the kids is a real challenge without a way to interact with other adults who have things in common with you.

If you’re struggling to find friends and you love to read, creating a book club may be a fantastic way to connect with other moms who have things in common with you. Starting any type of organization or club can be daunting, but we have some tips for how to host book club in this post that will help you get started.

Keep reading for a step-by-step guide to creating a thriving group of readers and wonderful discussion.

*Disclaimer: Some of the links you see may be affiliate links. All that means is if you click through and end up making a purchase, I’ll earn a commission.

Select Your Members

Before you get started, you have to decide who you want to invite. Keep in mind that when people sign up for a book club, they assume they will spend at least a portion of the meeting discussing a book.

If you’re starting a book club, it’s a good idea to invite members who like to read. Even if only a few of the members are avid readers, it’s a good idea to at least invite a few to make sure that the main focus of the club remains the book. If everyone is a non reader it will devolve quickly into just a social club, which may be okay with your members, but likely will be irritating to some.

Be sure all the book club members have things in common. Multigenerational book clubs can be good if they have several members in each age group. Yet sometimes if there is only one of a certain age group, it may not be a good fit because the members won’t be able to relate to each other.

After you’ve established your book club and you’ve gotten into a routine, you may want to set a policy that new members need to be approved by the group. Adding members will change the group dynamic, and not everyone may be interested in having things change, especially if they’re really enjoying the club the way it is.

Select Your Books

Once you know who will be in your book club, talk to them about what they like to read. You can choose to focus your book club on fiction or non- fiction, or a mix. If you decide to do a mix, make sure that all your members are on board with both. Otherwise, by alternating genres at every other meeting, you may end up with only half the members at each meeting. In that case, you may be better off starting two book clubs instead.

After you decide what types of books you want to read, you’ll need to figure out which specific books you want to read each month. There are many ways to go about it.

In my book club, we have seven members. First we decide on a theme. We mostly read fiction, but sometimes we’ll throw in a memoir or a non-fiction book. Here are some previous themes we’ve chosen:

  • A book with a front cover we like

  • Scandinavian Noir

  • A book about water (ocean, sea, river, lake, etc.)

  • A book with family relationships

  • A Jane Austen novel

  • An anti-love story

  • A classic

After we choose a theme, we use Facebook to facilitate the rest. We each nominate a book we’d like to read, and next month’s host selects three at random. This website is helpful if you’re not sure how to randomize selections, but you can also just throw the titles of the books in a hat and draw pieces of paper out. Then the host will post the three random selections, and all seven of us vote on which of the three we’d most like to read.

Some book clubs let one member choose a book every month, that way no one gets left out. The problem with this method is that if only one person picks, others may lose interest. However, it’s also a lot simpler than the way my book club handles choosing the selections.

Whichever method you choose, I highly recommend choosing books for discussion potential, not ratings. If you only choose popular books, you may not end up with a very good discussion at your book club meeting. Some of the best books we’ve discussed at our book club were the ones we hated with a passion, but they generated over an hour of discussion.

Using databases can help you search for books that fit a theme, or books that you want to suggest for the group. Goodreads is helpful, and you don’t even need an account to be able to search the lists and recommendations that their members have created. For example, here is a list of the best 23 Stephen King novels (in this reader’s opinion). Here are a whole bunch of historical fiction lists, all in one place. One note: I find it easier to search on Google for the type of list I’m looking for and add the word “Goodreads” to my search term, rather than searching on Goodreads.

Curate Discussion When Learning How to Host Book Club

Perhaps the most important part of any book club is facilitating the discussion. Think through some of these questions as you build your book club:

  • Who will host? Will they host every time or will you switch off?

  • Will the host lead the discussion or will someone else?

  • Will people make notes as they read so they have thoughts to contribute during discussion or will you be more informal? (Keep in mind, some people read on a Kindle with a stand, so notes can be photos on a phone, or a digital note, rather than a paper notebook and pen)

You don’t always have to meet in someone’s home, unless they have a cozy, comfortable space and they like to have people over. You can also choose to meet in a restaurant, and just have the meeting’s host make the reservations and welcome members at the restaurant.

One other important note is that some book clubs generate interest during the weeks that they don’t meet by providing other supplemental content for their members. For example, they might share a link to an article about the author, or information about an upcoming movie based on the book. These types of extras create a community for the book club members, and provide a way to enhance discussion when you do meet in person.

If you’re looking for a digital way to bring the group together and communicate information, Facebook can be a good platform but only if everyone uses it. If not, you may want to try another social media site or even something like a list-serv (you can use Google Groups, or the Yahoo version, etc.). You can also just try a text thread, but that can get tricky if everyone doesn’t have Android or Apple phones, because they have limits about how many users can be on one thread and sometimes people miss texts.

If your book club has a great platform that you use to help you communicate, please share it in the comments below!

Change What Doesn’t Work

If you get started and it doesn’t seem to be going well, you may need to make changes. For example, you may find no one reads the books that you choose. You can get together with everyone to find out why, or probe a little bit individually to see if the members will share with you privately why they chose not to read the book. Maybe they don’t have time and you need to meet less frequently to give the members more time to finish the books. Maybe your book club needs to choose shorter books. Or maybe you’ll come up with a more creative solution than these!

You may find that no one likes the book choices, and they complain a lot about the selections. If that’s the case, you may need to change the method of selection every month or add in a way to vote. You may need to change the genre you’re reading, or find a different way to discover new options.

If you find one member dominates discussion, you may need to talk with that person individually to see if they are even aware of the habit. Often interpersonal conflict is the hardest problem to navigate in a book club. Evaluate whether you really need to say something or if you leave it alone if things will work out on their own. If you decide to have a discussion, be sure that you approach sensitive situations with tact and kindness.

Book Nerds Unite!

Now that you know a little more about how to host book club, you’re reading to gather your fellow readers and get started.

Hopefully these ideas help you build your Goodreads Want to Read list for your next book club. Be sure to add me on Goodreads so I can see what you’re reading and find recommendations!

You’ll find more bonus info and extra content if you find us on Twitter and Facebook as well.

More blog posts for readers and writers:

*Disclaimer: Some of the links you see may be affiliate links. All that means is if you click through and end up making a purchase, I’ll earn a commission.


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