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 never any one way to experience or interpret a book. In fact, differing opinions make the best discussions. Just don't get over heated.

Members who would rather 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
  • Rotate discussion leaders each month—maybe it's the person who selects the book or the one who hosts the meeting.
  • Appoint a permanent leader: some clubs have a member who enjoys leading all the discussions and has a real gift for doing so.
  • Invite an outside facilitator (English teacher, librarian, author) on occasion...or on a permanent basis, 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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