9 Tips For Starting The Best Book Club Ever

how to start a book club

It’s safe to say that if you’re reading this, you love books as much as I do. And if you’ve ever finished the last page of a book only to immediately wish you had someone to talk about all of it with, then you’re in the right place. A book club is a great way to share the experience of reading a book with other book lovers. It also gives common ground to a group of people who may not have a lot in common with otherwise. And, it can be a great way to make new friends and get involved without feeling overwhelmed by social anxiety and the fear of having nothing to talk about. Books make amazing conversation starters.

So, if you’re thinking of starting a new book club in your area. You came to the right place. I’m going to share all the best tips for how to get started and soon you’ll be enjoying your own book club where you live.

Tips for Starting a Book Club:

1. Choose Your Book Club Type:

how to start a book club

Thanks to Zoom, you no longer have to limit yourself to book lovers who live in your area. You can start a book club that allows people from all over to join in. When deciding which way to go, ask yourself: are you hoping to make new friends and connections where you live? Then an in person book club is the best fit for you.

Do you want to chat with book lovers who read similar things that you like? Then, opening a virtual book club where everyone joins in from their respective places might be the right way to go. Also, consider if you’ll include all ages or a specific age range. What about spouses? Will it be a couple’s event or just a group of friends getting together? Do you want children there or should members plan for childcare? What about infants? Take some time to figure out what type of book club would be the best fit and then stick with it.

2. Plan the Details:

how to start a book club

Now that you know if you’re going to be in person or virtual, it’s time to make the granular decisions that will help things run smoothly. Here’s some things to think about:

  • How often will you meet? Once a month is probably the most common.
  • What vibe of books will fit your group? Are you looking to discuss a certain type or genre of books? Make sure you think about that in advance. Someone who only reads dark fantasy may not want to join a book club with sweet rom coms. Or, will you rotate the book selection each month to a different member?
  • What type of books will you focus on or at least start with? You could choose a book from a popular book club, like Oprah’s Book Club or Reese’s Book Club. Or, you can pick a new book that is being released with a lot of hype. Probably best to pick a book that won’t alienate too many people if you’re hoping to get a local group together. If you’re using a virtual setting, you can narrow down the niche to find readers who love that specific type of book.
  • If this is in person, will this be at a central location, such as a community clubhouse, or a rented room at a coffee shop or will you host at your house? Will you want people to rotate doing the hosting?
  • Will the book club meetings be themed to fit the book? If so, you can tie in snacks and other details. Some book clubs even incorporate costumes that fit the characters, although this may take some buy in from members once you’re rolling.

Once you’ve decided how you want to run things, get all your ducks in a row first. If you need to reserve a spot, make sure you have that in place. Then, move on to inviting some book lovers to your first meetup. You’ll want to have a place/date/time and book picked out before reaching out. Also, consider how large you want the group to be. This will help you plan out how aggressive you want to be in finding people to join.

3. Choose the Book:

how to start a book club

Now is the time to choose the first book. It’s always a good idea to start with a newer release that most book club members will not have read yet. Think about the vibe you want to create with your club and plan accordingly. You may also want to think of a book that has theme options that you could use for snacks and decor. If you’re doing this online, you could share a few simple recipes and a drink that members could make before meeting on Zoom that they can enjoy while discussing the book.

Here are a few books I’ve read this year that would make for great discussion at a book club. Some of these I was able to read as ARCS before release, so they may not be out quite yet.

  • Laura Dave, “The Night We Lost Him” – suspense, dash of romance
  • Emma Lord, “The Break Up Pact” – beach romance, so cute, she writes a lof of YA I love
  • Emily Henry, “Funny Story” – Em Hen is the reigning queen of romance
  • Katherine Center, “The Rom Commers” – If you love 80/90s rom coms, you will adore this
  • Abby Jimenez, “Just For The Summer” – A deep dive into the impact of the women who raise us
  • Elise Eliot, “Merry Switchmas” – A heartwarming, Christmas switch romance you’ll love

I’ll come back and add more as I think of them. The idea is a book that will be engaging and touch on some interesting issues that could spark engaging discussions.

*Affiliate links are used here for books I read and loved. If you choose to make a purchase through my link, i may receive a commission at no cost to you. Cheers!

4. Find Book Lovers for Your Book Club:

how to start a book club

It’s not much of a club without members, so now is the time to think about how you’ll spread the word. If you’re keeping it local, word of mouth is your best friend. You can also create an online invitation that you can share with friends and let them know that they can share it with others as well. Make sure the invitation has the location, date, time, and the BOOK that everyone should read before coming together. A link to a local bookstore that sells it or can get it for them will bring much needed sales to independent booksellers. And, you can create an advertisement or announcement on a graphic design program like Canva that you can post on bulletin boards or local shops.

If you’re new to an area, consider these avenues for spreading the word:

  • Share on a FB group for your area
  • Share an advertisement at a local clubhouse
  • Share in a Nextdoor group
  • Post an advertisement on a message board in local coffeeshops

If you’re doing this online, use social media, Reddit groups and X to share the news. Depending on your social reach, this method could be faster or slower. Plan accordingly.

5. Prepare for the First Meet-Up:

how to start a book club

It’s time to get ready for the first book club! Beyond just reading the book, you’ll want to be prepared with some questions (check out this list with the 40 best book club questions), maybe some icebreakers, and themed snacks or decor. If you’re thinking of hosting it every month, plan something sustainable that won’t be too overwhelming to do every month. If you’ll be rotating around to different members who volunteer, make sure not to set the bar so high nobody else wants to take a turn! You can even do teams of members, if you’re group is large enough, so that 2-3 members plan the book club each month so that it’s not all on one person. It really depends on your group, what will work best for your members, and will be the most fun. The more memorable and engaging the event, the more likely members will want to continue participating.

6. Have a Loose Schedule In Mind:

how to start a book club

This should be fun and relaxing, so don’t plan every minute, but you may want to have a loose schedule in mind. Something like, give everyone time to arrive, have a drink, enjoy some snacks, and just chit chat. Once everyone is settled in, gather everyone together in a circle or in a comfortable area and welcome everyone. If you want to play an icebreaker, now is a great time. But, a lot of people with social anxiety hate them, so consider your guests and what they might enjoy. After that, it’s time to dive in to some questions that apply to the book you’ve all read. Let people share what they think about it, ask their own questions, too. If conversation moves organically, great, but if you need a little help keeping things moving, print out a list of questions to have on hand. You can even make enough copies to share them and let people take turns asking the question that they would like answered.

7. Discuss Book Club Guidelines:

At the end of the discussion, it’s a great time to talk to the group about guidelines. This helps to ensure everyone is on the same page. Here are some things you may want to go over:

  • Who chooses the book for each month? Should everyone send in their ideas and then you create a survey that they all vote? Does it rotate around the members? Make sure book selection happens soon after a meeting so members have time to prepare for the next book club.
  • What’s the plan with food and drink? Will it rotate or will the book club meet at a central location and everyone pitches in? Does the person who is hosting that month send out a sign-up sheet for people to each bring one thing on the list, potluck style? What works best for your group?
  • What happens if the person in charge that month gets sick or doesn’t want to participate? As the person who started the group, you may want to set up some kind of contingency plan since rescheduling for a whole group of people is going to be a nightmare. There may need to be an agreement that the show must go on, otherwise you could be rescheduling for different members forever.
  • Think of any other caveats that could affect your group and bring them up for discussion. Or, if you plan to host every month and send out invites, then let people know that you’re happy to take ideas for books and would love some help with food and drinks, but it’s not necessary. Do what works for you.

8. Set Up A Way to Communicate:

how to start a book club

Once your group is up and running, plan an easy way to communicate with the group. A private Facebook group is an easy way to do this. You can share the book pick for the month, do surveys to help with selection, share signups for food and drinks, and much more. This will also allow you to post pictures and have other members post pictures that everyone can see and enjoy.

9. Think Ahead:

Sometimes, these types of things can get a mind of their own. Think about what you’ll do if the group grows past a certain number of members.  If your meeting space only accommodates that number, you could start a waiting list to move in new members as old members move away, leave, or simply stop participating. You could let members know the limit in advance and then when it’s been reached. At this point, rules regarding participation could be implemented to make sure somebody doesn’t hold a spot in the club, but never actually shows up.

Or, if the group wants to start incorporating things like inviting authors for a Q&A or other events, you may have some events where members need to buy tickets to participate. Discuss this with the group and how they want to handle it. It could even be fun to have book bags made with a book club logo that members could buy.

With a little preparation and some structure, you’ll have a book club that’ll become something every member looks forward to.

Are you looking for a great book to read? Check out these posts I’ve shared on books. I read over 100 books last year and have lost count on how many I’ve read this year, so I’ll post more soon!

Happy reading!



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