How to Run a Book Club

Use our ideas to help you organize your book club activities, hold good discussions, and settle tough issues.


Basic Ground Rules

Members who haven’t read the book
Come anyway. Not everyone can finish every book, but non-readers may still have valuable insights.

Disagreements about the book
Be gracious! There is no one way to experience or
interpret a book. In fact, differing opinions are good.

Members who prefer to socialize
Be gentle but firm. Insist that discussion time be limited to the book. Some clubs hold book discussions first and invite "social members" to join afterward.

Dominating personalities
Never easy. “Let’s hear from some others” is one approach. Some clubs pass an object around the room; you talk only when you hold the object. If the person continues to dominate, a friendly conversation (never e-mail) might work. If all fails, sometimes they've just got to go—for the good of the club. (See our Blog Post—Book Club Blues.)

Meeting Format

Allow 2 to 2-1/2 hours per meeting
  • 30-45 min. — social time (eat, drink, be merry)
  • 15-20 min. — administrative matters
  • 60-90 min. — book discussion

Holding the Discussion

(Also see How to Discuss a Book)

With a leader
  • Appoint a club member—perhaps the person who selects the book or hosts the meeting. Some clubs have a member who enjoys leading all discussions.
  • Invite an outside facilitator (English teacher or librarian), paid or unpaid.
Without a leader
  • Take turns going around the room, allowing each member to talk about his or her experience reading the book.
  • Hand out index cards. Ask everyone to write a question or observation; then select one or more to discuss.
Use LitLovers Resources!

(Book club tips by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks!)

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